Christmas Menu: Overnight Brioche Cinnamon Rolls, Mustard Sauce, Scalloped Potatoes & More
A few weeks ago, while revisiting this butternut squash lasagna post, I spotted a photo of a Dakin ham, something my aunt always has on hand around the holidays. Feeling immediately nostalgic for Christmases past, I ordered a half bone-in ham.
I’m so looking forward to scoring it, studding it with cloves, and glazing it with some sweet, syrupy concoction, but I’m mostly looking forward to leftover ham sandwiches on the above-pictured rolls (recipe below), smeared with my grandmother’s mustard sauce.
I’ve included all of my favorite Christmas recipes below. If you are serving more of a traditional turkey dinner, this post may offer more guidance. The below recipes are organized as follows:
To me, nothing is more Christmas Eve-y than mussels, a meal my mother often served for the occasion. Of course, there’s no better companion for mussels than good bread. My mother’s peasant bread is an excellent choice as is this simple sourdough boule. These oven fries are something the whole family loves, and they’re a great match for mussels as well.
A simple salad dressed in a citrus-shallot vinaigrette makes it a meal.
If mussels aren’t your thing, I can’t say enough about this lasagna, which has been in the rotation a lot in recent weeks:
Butternut Squash Lasagna
One snowy Thanksgiving in Vermont, this butternut squash lasagna, brought to the feast by a vegetarian friend of my aunt’s, stole the show. The recipe comes from Gourmet magazine, and it’s something guaranteed to please both carnivores and vegetarians alike.
As with the mussels, a simple salad dressed in a citrus-shallot vinaigrette is the perfect accompaniment.
Christmas is not Christmas, at least when I’ve with my parents, without Glogg. This is my stepfather’s specialty, something the whole family looks forward to as soon as the holiday season approaches.
“Glogg,” if you are unfamiliar, derives from a Scandinavian word meaning “to glow” or “to warm,” which is just what this hot beverage is meant to do: warm you up, get you glowing. Coming from a land where the sun shines seldom in a long winter season, glogg is meant to work immediately, which is exactly what it does.
In a sort of two-pronged attack, glogg enters the system: as vapors swirl off the hot liquid up into the nose making their way to the brain, the liquid itself — a mixture of red wine, port, and brandy — pours through the bloodstream. This is potent stuff, bone-warming, rosy-cheek inducing, party-starting stuff. It’s impossible not to belt out the Christmas carols with a glass of glogg in hand.
We love serving glogg as a pre-dinner drink sitting by the fire with a few snacks — cheese, crackers, nuts — on hand.
Brioche Cinnamon Buns
Prep these buns on Christmas Eve. Rise to frosted brioche bliss. And to very happy humans.
Two cranberry-studded favorites:
Each of these can be prepped ahead as well. The unbaked scones can be stashed in the fridge (or freezer) the night before baking; the batter for the cranberry buttermilk breakfast cake can also be stashed in the fridge.
Overnight French Toast
This is the easiest French toast you will ever make, and I believe it’s one of the best, too. It’s crisp on the exterior and custardy on the interior. It emerges from the oven piping hot, ready for syrup, fruit, powdered sugar, or all three.
As I noted above, I’m making a ham this year, and I’m 95% convinced I’m making it for the sauce: my grandmother’s mustard sauce. Friends, it’s so good.
On the Side
For the past few weeks I’ve been making a favorite variation of my favorite shallot vinaigrette: citrus-shallot vinaigrette. In this version, the shallots soak in both vinegar and fresh squeezed orange juice, the addition of which makes the dressing a little fresher, a little brighter, and a little lighter. It’s so nice this time of year.
I’ve been using it to dress very simple salads: Boston lettuce tossed with endive, arugula, or whatever looks good at my grocery store. If you’re looking for a heartier salad, here are a few more ideas:
As with Thanksgiving, Christmas dinner isn’t Christmas dinner without Alice Waters’s potato gratin:
Alice Waters’s Potato Gratin
Alice Waters’s potato gratin is a dish my mother has served at nearly every big holiday gathering for as long as I can remember. It often steals the show no matter what it’s beside, turkey, ham, lamb, or otherwise.
As I noted in my Thanksgiving post, there is something festive about a roll on the holiday table. And a simple way to make those rolls even more festive is to brush them with an herby, garlicky butter right out of the oven. If you add crushed red pepper flakes* to the mix, the specks of red and green make the buns look especially Christmas-y.
These brioche dinner rolls (recipe below) are the same as these brioche hamburger buns but they’re made in pull-apart form. If you portion the dough into 12 balls, as pictured below, the buns will be quite large, but they’re perfect for leftover ham sandwiches … decisions decisions.
*Not advisable if needing to children.
Christmas Menu: Garlicky Herbed Pull-Apart Brioche Rolls
- Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes
- Yield: 12 large rolls
If you have Bread Toast Crumbs, this is essentially 2/3 the light brioche recipe in the book with the sugar cut back by a bit more.
To create a warm spot for your bread to rise, turn your oven on for one minute, then shut it off. That brief blast of heat will create a cozy place for your bread to rise.
As always: for best results, use a digital scale to weigh the ingredients.
Water: Some people find this dough very wet and tricky to work with. If you live in a humid area, I would consider cutting some of the water back. If you are measuring with cups, hold 1/3 cup water. If you are using a scale, hold 75 g. You can always add the water back in when you are mixing if it seems dry.
If using active dry yeast: Whisk the egg with the water. Add the heated milk-butter mixture. Stir to combine. The mixture should be lukewarm. Sprinkle the yeast over top and let stand for 15 minutes or until it gets foamy; then proceed with the recipe.
- 4 cups (512 g) all-purpose or bread flour
- 2 teaspoons (10 g) kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons (8 g) instant yeast, see notes above if using active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons (28 g) sugar
- 1 1/3 cups (300 g) cold water, or less, see notes above
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup (78 g) milk
- 4 tablespoons (57 g) butter
- for the egg wash: 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
For the garlic-herb butter:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1/4 cup finely chopped chives
- 1/4 –1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
- pinch sea salt, optional
- Whisk together the flour, salt, yeast, and sugar.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the cold water and the egg.
- Heat the milk and butter together until the butter is melted. Pour this hot mixture into the cold water-egg mixture. The combined mixture should be perfectly lukewarm. Add it to the flour bowl and stir with a spatula till you have a sticky dough ball. Drizzle a teaspoon or two of olive oil over the dough and rub to coat — this prevents a crust from forming on the dough during the rising.
- Cover bowl and let rise in a warm area (see notes above) for 2 to 3 hours or until doubled. Alternatively, stick bowl in the fridge immediately and let it rise overnight or for 12 to 18 hours. Grease a 9×13-inch pan with butter or nonstick spray.
- Cover a work surface lightly with flour. Deflate dough, turn out onto work surface, knead briefly, and divide into 12 equal portions (use a scale and weigh each roll if you want perfectly even rolls: about 85 g each for 12 rolls). Note: 12 portions makes for quite large rolls. If you want smaller rolls, divide the dough into 16 portions.
- Using as much flour as necessary, roll each portion into a ball, and place in your prepared pan. (Note: If you refrigerate the dough, you can deflate it immediately after taking it out of the fridge … no need to let it come to room temperature first.)
- Let rise until the rolls puff and feel light to touch — 30 to 45 minutes roughly. Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
- Brush rolls with egg wash. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until golden all around.
- Meanwhile, in a small skillet, melt the butter and add the garlic. Cook over low heat just to soften the garlic, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat. When the rolls are out of the oven, return the skillet to the heat, add the chives and crushed red pepper flakes, if using, and cook until the herbs begin to sizzle, another minute or so. Brush the warm rolls with the garlicky herby butter. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
- Prep Time: 3 hours
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Category: Bread
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American, French
Keywords: brioche, dinner, rolls, garlic, herb, butter
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21 Comments on “Christmas Menu: Overnight Brioche Cinnamon Rolls, Mustard Sauce, Scalloped Potatoes & More”
Thanks Ali, this is great! I didn’t get to try the mustard sauce at Thanksgiving so definitely making it for xmas! I’ve made the Orange Ricotta pound cake several times, including earlier this month, and I love it. I made the Orange and Olive oil cake over the weekend and its delicious too! (I opted to add Grand Marnier). Thanks again and Merry Christmas!
Oh wonderful! I hope you love the mustard sauce as much as I … I’m really talking it up 🙂 🙂 🙂 But I love it so! Happy holidays!!
I made the butternut lasagna for our 2 person quarantined Thanksgiving. Fabulous. And thank you for so many of your recipes that have helped sustain us through a long 2020. Other people may have made sourdough; I am devoted to your whole wheat soda bread. And the naan. And so many great chickpea stews. And, and, and. ❤️
So nice to hear this Patty 🙂 And thank you for your kind words. So glad you like the whole wheat soda bread and others. Thanks for writing. Wishing you a happy happy holiday!
Wow! What a delicious collection of holiday inspired recipes! Where to begin! Top-down I imagine 😁.
Thank you for all the step by step visual details. You continue to keep the task at hand approachable and delicious all at once. 🎄🎄 ❤️
Awww, Hillary, so nice to hear this. Thank you so much. Have a wonderful holiday! Thank you for the kind words 🙂 🙂 🙂
Grocery store didn’t deliver the lasagna noodles for the squash. Any recommendations of how I can sub regular pasta? Of course they delivered the other items, but they will spoil before my next delivery! Thanks.
Oh Darn! What other pasta shapes do you have? I just weighted the 9 dry lasagna noodles, and they weigh 5 ounces. I actually feel other pasta could work quite well, and I think you could maybe use up to 8 ounces. I would boil the pasta for maybe 5 minutes only. Drain but don’t rinse. You could then follow the recipe as written, layering the par-boiled pasta with the bechamel, cheese, etc. Let me know what you decide!
I ended up making the sauce Sunday and finishing last night. I used cavatappi. It is amazing. The favorite thing I’ve eaten this year, despite the lack of lasagna noodles. I know this probably sounds nuts, but is there any way I could fully assemble ahead of time and freeze? I just can imagine this for when people can come over again. The 3 days ahead for the sauce definitely helps, of course.
Great to hear this, Debby! So glad it worked without the lasagna noodles. Regarding freezing, I have not tried freezing it unbaked, but I just did some googling, and it turns out that you can freeze whipped cream, which was the part of the recipe that concerned me regarding freezing. So, I think it’s probably safe to freeze unbaked! I would bake it directly from the freezer, maybe covered at 350ºF for 1 hour; then uncovered at 375ºF for 15 minutes or so. Hope that helps!
These rolls are my new favorite brioche recipe! I planned to overnight bulk ferment but accidentally left it on the counter instead of sticking directly in the fridge–it rose really fast in my oven-warm kitchen. TOO fast. I panicked, but decided to shape and stuck the pan in the fridge to proof overnight instead. Baked the next morning. Came out perfectly!
My favorite thing about this recipe is the balanced sweetness. So great with savory foods. Maybe even better the next day as a breakfast sandwich (and big enough!). I used the leftovers in the style of Eggslut’s famous sandwiches from LA: custardy slow-scrambled eggs with chives, sharp cheddar, bacon, caramelized onions and siracha-mayo. OMG, on its own, but on this garlic brioche? Best egg sandwich I’ve ever made, maybe the best I’ve ever eaten. Egglsut should add garlic to their brioche!
We’re gonna have to have these dinner rolls every special occasion now! The trick will be to resist making them all the time just for fun.
So nice to hear this, Danielle! I have done this sort of thing so many times over the years, and I am constantly amazed by how forgiving dough can be and also how useful the refrigerator is in terms of making dough work with your schedule. So glad you were able to salvage your dough and get great results.
Your Eggslut egg sandwich sounds absolutely amazing!! The past few days we’ve been living on leftover ham sandwiches, but I could use a change … or maybe I’ll use ham in place of bacon IN the egg sandwich. Can’t wait. Thanks for writing!
I was wondering if I can freeze the dough balls before the very last rise. If so do I just let them defrost on the counter before putting them in the oven?
Yes! I would freeze them after you ball them up and transfer them to the pan. You can thaw them in the fridge overnight, then let them rise at room temperature until they are puffed and ready to be baked. Hope this makes sense!
I am *obsessed* with those garlicky brioche rolls. So easy, and my nine-year-old could go through half a pan by herself in one sitting if I let her.
I’ve been working more often with preferments lately, and was wondering if you have any thoughts about adapting this recipe to use a sponge (100:60:1). Might it be worth the math? I’m still a little insecure about messing with baker’s percentages but I really want to practice.
So nice to hear this, Danielle! I think you absolutely can use a preferment here…are you using a poolish or something else?
Thank you for the response! I ended up using a simple sponge with a 100:60:1 ratio of flour:water:yeast making up 25% of the final dough. I only let it rest for a few hours before adding the remaining ingredients and refrigerating overnight for the bulk ferment. Second proof took longer than expected but my kitchen is cold this time of year. It came out so beautifully on the first try, with a very nice flavor and really tender crumb!! Was a huge hit with everyone. I’ve never gone wrong with any of your recipes, this is my cooking blog by far. Thank you!
Favorite* cooking blog. Favorite was the key word, oops!
Oh my goodness, amazing! Thank you so much for reporting back and sharing your notes. I’m so happy to hear all of this, and I can’t wait to try using a sponge here. Thank you for your kind words. Means the world 🙂 🙂 🙂 Have a wonderful holiday season!
If I shape the brioche rolls in the morning, can I stick them in the fridge and then pull them out for final rise in the evening for dinner? If so how long should they be at room temperature after reliving g from fridge?
Yes, absolutely! I would pull them out about an hour before you plan on baking them.