Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Guest Post: In Memory of Marjorie

Today I welcome my sister, Julie, as a guest blogger!

Since my blog, The Letter Writing Revolution, was not a suitable forum for the post I wanted to write, Stephanie graciously offered The Knitty Gritty Homestead as a space for the following post.

When I first met my husband, I was 12 years old and he was 13. We met in a hockey rink in rural Quebec and it was love at first sight. I recall seeing his mom at the rink and as the story goes, she saw me, too, and told Tim that she thought I was "cute as a button."

Fast forward 12 years..........
I met up with the man who would be my husband once again while home visiting from Whistler, BC. We dated for a few weeks and then I returned to BC. Soon after, I received a call that he was quitting his jobs, selling his belongings and moving to BC as well. We married three years later and celebrated our 11th anniversary this past June. And, as they say, the rest is history.

Very sadly, when I saw my husband's mom at the hockey rink back in 1984 what I didn't know was that she was fighting breast cancer. She passed away a year and two months later in March of 1985 when she was only 39 years old (the age I am now). When my husband and I started dating and were living in BC, we started an annual tradition of participating in the CIBC Run for the Cure.......a run/walk with all proceeds going to breast cancer research. Each year we would do the run and eventually after getting our hands on some of his mother's recipes, we started the annual tradition of making her cinnamon buns from scratch in memory and celebration of her life.

October is breast cancer awareness month and so in memory of my mother-in-law, Marjorie Graham, whom I never had a chance to meet or know, I want to share a step-by-step recipe of making her amazing (and easy!) cinnamon buns. Enjoy!

Marjorie Graham's Cinnamon Buns

You will need:
The Dough:
3 cups of white all-purpose flour (and then another 3cups or so)
2 Tbsp. quick rising yeast (if you buy the three packets that are attached, use all three)
3 cups warm water
8 Tbsp. white sugar
6 Tbsp. Crisco oil (I used light tasting olive oil)
2 eggs
1 tsp. salt
The Topping
1 lb. butter
1 kg. bag brown sugar
1/3 cup cinnamon

Creating the Buns:
1. Put water, sugar and oil in a large bowl.

2. Mix the flour and yeast together in a separate bowl and then add to the oil/water/sugar mixture, combining with a fork or spoon.

3. Add beaten egg and salt.

4. You will need to take your rings off as it's going to get messy!

4. Add at least 3 cups more of flour until you have consistency and dough doesn't stick to your hands.

5. Oil another large bowl and place dough in it. Cover with a tea towel and place in oven. No heat but turn the oven light on for 20 minutes.

6. After 20 minutes, remove from oven and knead the dough. Place back in oven, covered with tea towel, (no heat) for 20-25 minutes. Oven light remains on.

7. When you remove it after the 25 minutes, it should look like this:

8. Prepare a large surface (counter works well) with flour and dump the dough onto the surface. You will now roll out your dough into a rectangle  about 1/4 -1/2 inch thick.

My husband's grandmother's rolling pin which was probably her mother's rolling pin.
9. Now, her recipe states: "Butter well. Add lots of brown sugar and lots of cinnamon." From ten years of experimenting, my husband and I think we have found the magic balance of these three key ingredients. I use a pound of soft butter (I didn't say these were healthy!!) spread evenly over the dough rectangle. Then, sprinkle with 1 kg of golden brown sugar and I probably used about a 1/3 cup of cinnamon sprinkled over the entire piece of dough. Now, you might need an extra set of hands for this part as you are now going to roll the dough like a jelly roll.

10. Slice your roll into pieces that are about an inch and a half thick and place into greased glass pans. Pie plates work, too.Let rise in oven uncovered and no heat (oven light on, though) for 45 minutes. They should come out looking like this:

11. Remove and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Return to oven for 25-30 minutes. They are best eaten on the day they're baked and it's perfectly fine to add more butter when you eat them. I also recommend a hot pot of tea and friends and family to enjoy them with.

The finished product!
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to post them here and I will happily guide you. These are by far the best cinnamon buns I have ever eaten. Enjoy!


  1. I have had Marjorie's recipe out on my counter since the weekend as I want to try this famous recipe out. Thanks for the step-by-step!
    (I love the photo of your wedding rings)
    This tradition that you and T. share is a wonderful one!

  2. Lovely post. I'm walking 60 miles next month for the Susan G. Koman foundation. My Grandmother has survived breast cancer twice and I have many other friends and family members who have been afflicted as well. This is such a wonderful way to remember!

  3. I love it! You have Marjorie's cookbook! These cinnamon buns look awesome...I just posted a letter today asking for the recipe ... now I have it. Julie, you know how I feel about you...always know that Marjorie would have approved Tim's choice in a life and love partner and loved you too. I'm so glad to read that you did see each other at the rink.
    Love this blog too, the picture is priceless.

  4. What a lovely way to celebrate someone life!
    I have done the Walk for the Cure - another way to make one not feel so helpless.

  5. So those were the famous cinnamon buns you were working on! What a wonderful tradition...

  6. Buying my ingredients today. I'm looking forward to getting messy! Thanks Julie.


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