There is a cliche that says ‘everyone smiles in the same language.’ While I believe that’s true, I would venture that there is an even more common language we all share: food. Sure, food is tied to our individual cultures, regions, histories and identities — but is one of the universal connectors that allows us to communicate without speech.

Think about it. When you remember a fond occasion, holiday, family get-together, celebration, trip, {insert other type of memory here}, chances are food was involved.

I recently read the book The Baker’s Daughter: A Novel by Sarah McCoy.  One common thread waves an intricate telling of a World War II story with modern-day immigration issues on the Texas border: Elsie and her German bakery. At the conclusion of the book was a recipe for Thomasplitzchen Buns. I love a fresh baked bun in the morning and make them all the time for holidays and special occasions. But I have zero patience for yeast and the several steps of rising and punching. These buns are quick, the dough rolls beautifully and you can go from ingredients to hot breakfast in under 30 minutes.

I adapted the recipe a bit — but it’s perfect for celebrating the end of the first week of school or a random Tuesday morning. Enjoy!

Ingredients for Buns:

  • 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk

Ingredients for Cranberry-Pecan Filling:

  • 3 teaspoons melted butter
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup of chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Ingredients for Icing:

  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • Milk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix all ingredients for the buns. {I used a Kitchen Aid Mixer with a Flat Beater}. Mound the dough into a ball and put on a floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough until it is 1/8″ thick. {This dough rolled BEAUTIFULLY for me. No sticking at all!}

Mix together the filling ingredients in a bowl.

Sprinkle the filling ingredients over the rolled dough. I kept the filling mixture away from the long ends of the dough to make rolling easier.

Roll like a fat sausage (instructions directly from the book!) and make one-inch slices with a sharp knife.

Put them pinwheel-side down on a greased cookie sheet and make until barely suntanned on top. The book suggests 12-15 minutes, but it was more like 18-20 minutes in my kitchen.

While the buns are baking, whip together the icing ingredients. Start with the melted butter, vanilla extract and powdered sugar. As you whip (again, I used a Kitchen Aid Mixer), add milk until the icing is a spoonable consistency. You’re going to be putting it on hot buns, so no need to make it runny.

When the buns are out of the oven, top with the icing and let cool slightly. Ingredients to hot buns in less than 30 minutes.  Enjoy!!

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The Baker's Daughter by Sarah McCoyThis post is inspired by Sarah McCoy’s The Baker’s Daughter. In a small Texan town, Reba discovers Elsie’s German Bakery and falls in love with more than the pastries. Shes drawn to Elsie’s life in Germany during the last year of WWII. Join From Left to Write on August 29  as we discuss The Baker’s Daughter.
As a member of From Left to Write, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.
I highly recommend the book if you’re looking for a ‘next’ on your read list (I read it in a few hours one afternoon). You can purchase the novel here in paperbook or an e-version for your kindle here.