Monday, January 10, 2011

Abs of Steel and Buns of Cinnamon

Many of the elves have been training for the IronElf Competition. This is a rigorous sport for elves that combines dogsledding, cross country skiing, and toymaking.  I have been helping Sylvester Elf get ready for the competition.  Sylvie, as I like to call him, is a strapping 4 foot elf with a dreamy 3-pack. When he takes off his shirt after his lacrosse match all the girls swoon.  They need smelling salts candy canes to revive them.
Sylvie came to my kitchen recently and asked me to make him some protein shakes and high fiber granola to help with his training.  Seems he was feeling sluggish after the sledding and skiing, and he wasn’t able to make a fast finish in the toymaking portion of the race.  His fingers kept slipping off the nails as he tried to hammer the music boxes together.  Even worse, he was too fatigued to put the rouge on the dolls and the subsequent slash across the cheeks of the dolls was most unbecoming.  They looked feverish and scary rather than dainty and merry.
One day in my kitchen, I was pulling some cinnamon sticky buns out of the oven when Sylvie came through my door.  He usually came later in the day so I was surprised to see him now.
“What is that divine smell...other than the always intoxicating scent of your perfume?”  That Sylvie has a silver tongue.  I tried not to giggle and blush the way all the other elves do.  Always keep a man on the chase, my mom used to say. 
“Oh just some sticky buns for Santa’s afternoon snack,” I replied. “But I’m sure you wouldn’t want any since you are in training, and all.” 
“You’re right,” he lifted his shirt and slapped his stomach. “Rock hard and ready to rumble.”
I’m not quite sure where elves rumble at the North Pole but I didn’t say so,  besides I couldn’t act too interested, so says my mom.   I put a sticky bun on a silver plate for Santa and got out the smelling salts candy canes for the two icing apprentice elves who had fainted in the big bowl of frosting on the other side of the kitchen. 
 “I’ll be right back.  While I’m gone, you can have your shake and granola.”
When I returned I noticed that the shake and granola were gone but I also noticed that another of the sticky buns was gone, too.  Curious.
 Each day passed and Sylvie always seemed to show up at sticky bun time rather than his usual late afternoon snack time. After a while, I noticed that Sylvie quit pulling up his shirt to show me his 3-pack, and his buns were looking more and more like my buns of cinnamon rather than the IronElf buns he used to sport.  Was my training going to be the ruin of him? 
At the big race, I was very nervous.  Was I going to be blamed for destroying the most famous IronElf that ever lived just because he couldn’t resist my baking?  The starting gun went off.  We would all know the answer to that question soon.
Sylvie started out in front of the Dogsled race and miraculously stayed there.  The announcers kept mentioning that Sylvester’s new physique was acting as ballast and keeping his sled steady on the course.  Hooray!  One race down and two to go.  In the cross country skiing, Sylvester blasted past the others in a burst of speed.  Seems the extra carbs were giving him boundless energy.  Finally, in the Toy  making competition, Sylvie was given the task to make play food and he won the judges over with his authentic looking plastic and foam sticky buns.
So now, thanks to Sylvester, I am the new official IronElf personal chef to the athletes.  My sticky buns are packaged and distributed for all of the competitors.  Sylvie wasn’t too happy about his secret weapon being shared with everyone so I told him he might want to come over one day next week and I would have a surprise new training food for him. I didn’t tell him what it was going to be.  Gotta keep him guessing, you know.

Cinnamon Sticky Buns

1 package dry yeast
¼ cup warm water (105 – 110 degrees)
1 cup milk, scalded
¼ cup shortening
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten

1 cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup butter
2 tablespoons corn syrup
2/3 cup chopped pecans

¼ cup butter, softened
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
In a small bowl, add water to yeast.  In another larger bowl, combine warm milk, shortening, sugar and salt. Beat in 1 cup flour.  Add softened yeast and egg.  Gradually add remaining flour to form a soft dough.  Shape into a ball and place in a greased bowl.  Cover and allow to rise one hour.  Mix together the topping ingredients and pour into a greased 9X13-inch pan.  When dough has risen, punch down and turn out onto a floured surface.  Cut dough in half.  Use a rolling to pin to roll out each half into a 10X12 inch rectangle.  Spread each with the filling ingredients.  Start from the long side of one rectangle and roll up dough; repeat with other rectangle.  Cut into 1 ½ inch slices and place in pan on topping ingredients.  Allow to rise another 45 minutes.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  Cool 2 minutes and invert onto serving dish. 

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