For Many, Christmas Morning Means Beloved Breakfasts

Dec 25, 2012
Originally published on October 25, 2016 10:18 am

Because Christmas Day means good cheer and good food for many, All Things Considered asked you to describe what you eat on the holiday — whether you celebrate Christmas or not. You told us about tamales, pickled squid, homemade soup and (of course) Chinese food.

You also told us about special breakfasts — and the special people who have shared these treats with you, like Susan Tannewtiz-Karnes' childhood neighbor, Mrs. Lawrence, who delivered a tea cake each year to Susan's family in Johnson City, Tenn. And listener Lisa Prugh offered up her late mother-in-law Janice's chocolate waffles, part of the Prugh family's holiday tradition for more than 40 years.

Recipe: Janice Prugh's Chocolate Waffles

1 1/2 cups flour

1/4 cup cocoa

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/3 cup sugar

2 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup butter, melted

2 large eggs, separated

1 teaspoon vanilla

A pinch of cream of tartar

Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and sugar into a bowl and make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.

In a separate bowl, mix buttermilk, egg yolks and vanilla, then pour into the dry ingredients and combine.

Beat egg whites with cream of tartar in a separate bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually fold the beaten whites into the batter, 1/3 at a time.

Prepare waffles following directions for your waffle iron. If you like, serve with vanilla ice cream on top.

Recipe courtesy of Lisa Prugh

Recipe: Mrs. Lawrence's English Tea Cake

For the Cake

1/3 cup melted butter, cooled

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon grated orange peel

1 egg, at room temperature

1 yeast cake, or 1 package of dry yeast

1/2 cup water, at 110 to 115 degrees

1/2 cup warm milk

1/2 cup golden raisins

3 tablespoons citron

3 cups bread flour (all-purpose flour is also OK)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon nutmeg

For the filling

1/4 pound butter (1 stick), very soft

1 cup powdered sugar

A dash of vanilla

Stir melted butter, sugar, orange peel and egg together in a large warm bowl (make sure the butter has cooled so as not to cook the egg). Set aside.

Following directions on the package, dissolve yeast pack in warm water. Let sit 3 to 5 minutes. Add in warm milk, raisins and citron and stir together. Set aside.

Sift together flour, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.

Stir softened butter, powdered sugar and vanilla together until it reaches a spreading consistency. Set aside.

Add yeast mixture to butter mixture and stir to blend. Add flour mixture to milk mixture, a little at a time, until all is added. Let dough rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours.

Knead the dough with flour (about ½ cup) for about 10 minutes. Dough will be very elastic and light. Divide in half and form two balls. Press dough into two 8-inch round pans and let rise again for 1 to 2 hours.

Bake at 375 for 20 minutes. Cool thoroughly, split and spread with filling mixture. Wrap loaves in foil and reheat at 350 degrees for 15 minutes before eating.

Recipe courtesy of Mrs. Lawrence's granddaughter, Laura

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Earlier this month, we asked you to tell us what you eat on Christmas Day, regardless of whether you celebrate the holiday. And here's what some of you enjoy for breakfast.

LISA PRUGH: We're making chocolate waffles.

SIEGEL: Chocolate waffles, they've been part of the Prugh's holiday mornings in Glendale, California, for more than 40 years. Lisa Prugh makes them, a duty she inherited from her late mother-in-law, Janice. Janice started the tradition after finding the recipe in a magazine.

PRUGH: It's a recipe that's almost a chocolate cake; milk, cocoa and sugar and butter and flour. I was surprised the first time we had it, how delicious they were.


PRUGH: How sweet they were and that you put vanilla ice cream on top of the sweetness and chocolatey goodness. I got right into it because...


PRUGH: ...once you've had them, I think they're pretty addictive.

SIEGEL: In Seattle on Christmas morning, Andrea Otanis(ph) and her daughters reach for the savory and the spicy.

ANDREA OTANIS: Grandpa Reyes' chili verde and it's delicious. It's like gold, and homemade tamales and chorizo and eggs.

SIEGEL: The tamales and chorizo sausage are Christmas morning specials, eaten one time of year. But Grandpa Reyes' chili verde is so good, Otanis and her girls enjoy it every chance they get.

OTANIS: It's tomatoes that he gets out of a can. The roasted chilies are really the key ingredient, the roasted Anaheim chili. He also roasts jalapenos and the yellow peppers. He uses a mocahete, it's like pestle and mortar, to grind them up and get the flavor out of them. And then he puts all that together in a pan. And he's very proud of it.

SUSAN TANOWITZ CARNES: For breakfast this morning, we had what we always had on Christmas morning, Mrs. Lawrence.

SIEGEL: That's right, she said Mrs. Lawrence. They're not cannibals, it's a tea cake named after the lady who delivered it every Christmas to her neighbors in Johnson City, Tennessee.

CARNES: I have another cake recipe I call Mrs. Monroe.

SIEGEL: OK. With that cleared up, here Susan Tanowitz Carnes, now of Overland Park, Kansas, with the details of Mrs. Lawrence, the cake.

CARNES: It's a not-very-sweet bread that has raisins and currants and some spice we couldn't quite identify. And it has this fabulous butter filling right in the middle that melts into it when you put it in the oven.

It would be delivered sometimes probably in the week before Christmas. We would come home from school and my mother would just say, Mrs. Lawrence came by, we have Mrs. Lawrence. And we'd say ooh, yes, yes. We couldn't wait. And on Christmas morning, we get through the presence and it would be is it in the oven? Can we have it? And then it was one of those things that you fought over who got a little more of it than anybody else.

I grew up and moved away. And Mrs. Lawrence got very old and didn't bring it over anymore. And I happened to be back at my parents' house about 10 years ago and Mrs. Lawrence was well into her 90s. And I heard people over on her porch and I went over. And it was her and her daughter and granddaughter. And we talked for a while and I finally got up the courage to say, if you would ever, ever give up this very special secret recipe, I would love to have it.

They were completely dumbfounded. They said, it's a secret? And the granddaughter said, oh, well, I'll email it to you tomorrow. I have made it every year since. And my son called this year and asked for the recipe. So Mrs. Lawrence will live on even though the original Mrs. Lawrence has passed quite a few years ago.

SIEGEL: That's Ms. Susan Tanowitz Carnes talking about the Mrs. Lawrence, the person and the cake. And those secret spices, the things that made the cake so flavorful: orange peel, citron, vanilla and nutmeg. If you want the recipe, write and we'll share.

And we'll hear more of your holiday food stories elsewhere in today's program. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.