The loaves had been rising for 2 hours and threatened to spill over the top of their greased pans, looking for all purposes like mushrooms ready to topple over on teeny tiny stems. We kept joking about how we were going to walk in the house and have to push our way through a ginormous cloud of dough, as one could imagine seeing on a cartoon. Finally, after rising all day, I declared them poofy enough to convert to sticky buns.
I sprinkled the bottom of the pan with walnuts and raisins and Matt happily set to work tearing into the dough and covering the pan with golf ball size pieces. I got to work creating the goop that pores over the dough and settles into the crevices, turning the entire pan into a sticky delightful mess. I melted the butter, stirred in the pudding mix, and dashed in some cinnamon. I peered into my mother-in-law's cabinets, looking for brown sugar. I had brought some of the less obvious ingredients - the vanilla pudding, the walnuts pre-chopped and ready to go, but had naively assumed there would be brown sugar in just about stocked pantry. I should have known: this is the kitchen famous for scotch kissies, the delectable dessert treat that requires an entire box of brown sugar.
She was out. The dough torn, the butter melted, I started to panic. Here I had built up the anticipation of my mom's famous sticky buns ALL day long, hoping to share this tradition with my new family, and in the moment of truth, I had failed to provide an essential ingredient.
I started racking my brain for substitutions. Matt's Nanta, supervising the process, started peering into cupboards. She pulled out a box of granulated sugar and a bottle of Eggo syrup and placed them in front of me. "Here. Mix these." Nanta, who is famous for making her own ketchup once in a pitch, is always to be trusted when it comes to substitutions.
Into the melted butter mixture went this concoction. The color was off and the smell distinctly maple, but the texture was right. I crossed my fingers and drenched the sticky buns with the goop, and put it back in the fridge to rise overnight. In the morning, the aroma of pancakes filled the kitchen while the buns baked. When the timer went off, I pulled them out with hopeful anticipation. The first bite secured my success - despite the slight hint of maple, which turned out to be not a bad addition, they were every bit as delicious as the sticky buns I had consumed every Christmas morning for the last 25 years. My family-in-law's praise was abundant, and the tradition from one family was successfully incorporated into another family.