Christmas traditions

Wednesday, December 30, 2020


One of my favourite holiday traditions is the Hungarian Bubble Ring we eat on Christmas morning. 

I first made the recipe when I was 12 years old and taking my first 4H club. The theme of the club was Let's Bake Bread, and I learned how to bake all kinds of loaves. But this sweet bread, rolled in cinnamon sugar and studded with raisins and cherries, was our family's favourite.

I may have been the first one to bake it, but it was my mom who made it into a tradition. She baked it for brunch that Christmas day, and every year after. Even when Gwen and I grew up and had families of our own, my mom baked two loaves in advance and froze them, then brought them for us when she came to Toronto for Christmas every year.

Many of you know that my mom passed away this past April. I miss everything about her, and her beautiful tradition of serving Hungarian Bubble Ring is one of those things. I don't bake a lot of bread, but I challenged myself to try this recipe in honour of her, and I was really happy with how it turned out. Looks like this recipe will continue for another generation.

Love you, Mom.

Hungarian Bubble Ring 

(recipe makes two bubble rings)

For the Rich Roll Dough:
1 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup shortening
2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup warm water
2 packages dry yeast
2 eggs, well-beaten
5 - 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Scald milk. Measure sugar, salt and shortening into large bowl. Add scalded milk and stir until shortening is melted. Cool to lukewarm.

Meanwhile, dissolve 2 tsp sugar in warm water and sprinkle yeast over top. Let stand 10 minutes, then stir briskly with a fork. Add to lukewarm milk mixture and stir in beaten eggs. Stir in 3 cups flour and beat until smooth. Gradually add 2 - 2 1/2 cups flour, working in last with hands.

Turn dough onto lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, 5 to 7 minutes. Place dough in a lightly greased warm bowl. Grease top of dough slightly by turning it over once or twice in bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or parchment paper and clean dish towel, and let rise in a warm place until double in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. (I put the dough on a heating pad to rise.) Punch down risen dough and turn onto a lightly floured board. Divide into 2 equal portions and form each into a smooth ball. Cover and let rise 10 minutes, then make the bubble rings.

For the Bubble Rings:

1 recipe rich roll dough
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup raisins
2/3 cup preserved cherries, halved
1 cup sugar
3 tsp cinnamon

Thoroughly grease two 9-10" round baking dishes. Place about a quarter of the nuts, raisins and cherries in the bottom of each baking dish. Combine sugar and cinnamon in small bowl.

Working with the first ball of dough, cut it into four pieces, then cut each quarter into 5 small pieces and shape into balls. Dip balls in melted butter, then in sugar mixture, and place 10 balls in bottom of first pan. Sprinkle with half the remaining nuts, raisins and cherries. Repeat with second layer of 10 balls, placing the balls slightly apart. 

Cover the first bubble ring, and repeat with the second ball of dough.

Sprinkle the remaining sugar mixture and butter over both bubble rings. Let rise until doubled in size, about 45- 60 minutes. 

Bake in 375 degree oven for 35-40 minutes. Remove from pan immediately.