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A Christmas Candy Cane tradition

Maryann C. Krabbe
Montrose, Colo.
Maryann C. Krabbe"Candy Cane Ladies," Maryann C. Krabbe and Lisa (Tabor) Rediger.

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Do you have a special family Christmas tradition that you hold dear to your heart? Is it the Christmas tree or the candle light Christmas Eve service with your family gathered around? Whatever the case may be, traditions bring meaning year after year. I came into my marriage with a few Christmas traditions of my own, but have had the privilege of carrying on a tradition that was passed down in my husband’s family for four generations, Grandma’s Christmas Candy Canes.

My husband Gary Krabbe, a fifth generation Olathe/Montrose boy has fond memories of these Christmas treats that are traditionally served on Christmas morning while opening presents around the tree. Made once a year, these delectable pastry treats are filled with seasonal cranberries, nuts, raisins and a hint of citrus peel. When cut and twisted into the shape of a cane, the red of the cranberries and the creamy color of the soft dough become a Candy Cane much different than the ones familiar to us at Christmas time. Gary declares there is nothing better than a good cup of coffee and a Candy Cane to bring back special memories of his childhood! Because his grandmother, Bunny Tabor, made them for over 40 years the eagerly awaited Christmas morning became that much more anticipated.

Years have passed and Grandma Bunny is gone too, but the tradition of the Candy Cane remains. Several years ago my husband’s cousin Lisa (Tabor) Rediger and I began our own tradition and now with our aprons tied we make over 120 Candy Canes a year for over 12 families represented in the Montrose area. It is our joy to deliver the plates of Candy Canes to family members, and we often hear rumors of kin comparing plates and discussing who got the most.

We are not the only ones enjoying these canes, the tradition has moved with family members to Eastern Colorado and Utah too. It is comforting to know if we go visiting for Christmas we won’t miss out! The Candy Cane tradition has been special in our family – Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without them. If there is a tradition you love, cherish it and pass it on so many will benefit from its memory and heritage, only found if it’s kept alive.

Grandma Bunny’s Candy Canes

Makes approx. 24 Candy Canes

1 c. Milk

4 c. Flour, unsifted

1/4 c. Sugar

1 t. Salt

1 t. Lemon peel, grated

1 c. Butter (2 sticks)

1 pkg. Active dry yeast

1/4 c. Warm water

2 Eggs, beaten

Filling:

1-1/2 c. Cranberries, finely chopped

1/2 c. Sugar

1/2 c. Raisins

1/3 c. Pecans, coarsely chopped

1/3 c. Honey

1-1/2 t. Orange peel, grated

Warm milk. In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, salt and grated lemon peel. Cut in butter until like coarse meal.

Dissolve yeast into warm water. To flour mixture add yeast, milk and two beaten eggs. Combine slightly. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least two hours or up to two days.

When ready to bake prepare filling by combining filling ingredients in a sauce pan and cooking over medium heat, bringing to a boil for about 5 minutes. Cool.

When ready to assemble make sure dough is cold. Divide dough in two. Roll into an 18-by-15-inch rectangle. Spread with half of the filling. Fold dough into a three layer strip 15-inches long. Repeat with other half of dough.

Cut dough into 12 strips and holding the ends of each strip, twist lightly in opposite directions. Pinch ends to seal and place on a greased cookie sheet. Shape the top of each one to form a cane.

Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Frost with powdered sugar icing.


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