Challah-Back Honey Buns: for St. Ambrose

I’m still working my way back to 100% health, so planning for this Wednesday Night Dessert took some thinking. I wanted it to reflect that today is the feast of St.Ambrose , but I really needed it to be something that wouldn’t take one long chunk of time to do. I had to refresh my memory about St.Ambrose, and it was in doing this that I was reminded of the legend of baby Ambrose being covered with bees, leaving honey behind on his mouth, and his family saying that he would have the gift of sweet speech. Given that my oldest child’s first word at six months old was “poop,” I kid you not, it’s kind of nice to hear a little family story like this that has lasted for over a thousand years.

Now should my oldest becomes a saint, I really hope that her family story doesn’t result in any kind of dessert… So, let’s start with the:

Challah Dough
¾ c milk
2 eggs
3 T butter
3 c bread flour
¼ c white sugar
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp instant yeast

Prepare this in a bread machine on “dough” cycle. Cut the dough in half and bake one half as a braided loaf at 350F for 20-25 minutes, until it sounds hollow when tapped.


Save the other half of this dough for…

Refrigerator “Honey” Buns
½ c packed dark brown sugar
¼ c butter
2 T corn syrup
1 T honey (optional)
½ batch of challah dough
2 T butter
2 T white sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

12-48 hours before you plan to eat these, place the brown sugar and ¼ c butter into a microwave-safe bowl and heat in 30 second intervals until it reaches a boil. Pour this mixture into the bottom of an 8”x8” pan and stir in the corn syrup and optional honey. Roll out the challah dough into a square as big as you can get it without ripping holes in it. Spread the dough with 2 T of butter, then sprinkle with white sugar and cinnamon. Roll up the dough and cut into nine rolls. Place the rolls cut-sides down in the syrup in the pan. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator.


About an hour before you plan on eating these, heat oven to 350F, remove the pan from the refrigerator, and remove the plastic wrap. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes. IMMEDIATELY upon removing these from the oven, place a heatproof plate or tray on top of the baking pan, and “convert” (get it?)—in other words, flip the rolls onto the heatproof plate, so that the syrup in the bottom of the pan drips over and into the rolls. Serve warm.

20111207-202740.jpg 20111207-202756.jpg

If you read the story of St. Ambrose, you know that his “sweet speech” was instrumental in bringing St. Augustineto Christ. That’s why I like that these rolls grow sweeter if they are “converted,” flipped over, otherwise all that sweetness stays stuck in the pan and doesn’t get into the nooks and crannies. What are some ways we need to “flip” ourselves so that the sweetness of the Word of God can get into our “bread”—the flesh of who we are?


Reviews: The pickiest child asked for seconds and asked to make sure that we have leftovers available for breakfast tomorrow. This is the same child that, should she become a saint, we will hope her childhood story does not become a dessert. The toddler saw seconds being handed around, shoved her last piece of honeybun in her mouth, and held out her hand for more. The child with braces, however, should have been given a less sticky piece. Nothing got broken, but she did need to brush a whole lot before bed. My bad.

Allergy/veganizing notes: Usually this kind of roll is made with pecans down in the flip-syrup, but we don’t do tree nuts here. I can’t see why this couldn’t be made vegan with a vegan bread dough, but keep in mind the rolls probably won’t have the same stretchy tenderness that challah does, by virtue of all the egg & milk protein.


About Erin McCole Cupp
Erin McCole Cupp is a wife, mother, and lay Dominican who lives with her family of vertebrates somewhere out in the middle of Nowhere, Pennsylvania. Her short writing has appeared in Canticle Magazine, The Catholic Standard and Times, Parents, The Philadelphia City Paper, The White Shoe Irregular, Outer Darkness Magazine, and the newsletter of her children’s playgroup. She is a contributor to and has been a guest blogger for the Catholic Writers Guild. Her other professional experiences include acting, costuming, youth ministry, international scholar advising, and waiting tables. When Erin is not writing, cooking or parenting, she can be found reading, singing a bit too loudly, sewing for people she loves, gardening in spite of herself, or dragging loved ones to visitors centers at tourist spots around the country. Find out more about her novels and other projects at .

3 Responses to Challah-Back Honey Buns: for St. Ambrose

  1. Pingback: “Chey Chad, Chere’s Some Challah Chistory.” « Mrs. Mackerelsnapper, OP

  2. Pingback: Samedi Gras: when you can’t fry donuts on a school night « Mrs. Mackerelsnapper, OP

  3. Nada says:


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