This was a traditional family recipe reserved for Christmas. There were a number of years when it was not served, for whatever reason. I revived the recipe in the early '80's and modernized it to today's yeast products. Not everyone can make it Christmas Day and when they can't, I try to make them for Thanksgiving. So as to keep family members from being upset by missing their fair share, I have started making them for Thanksgiving as well. The original recipe belonged to Grandma Brant, who was of Pennsylvania Dutch heritage. The adaptation was changing from yeast cakes to the modern yeast granules.
I generally make these up and bake them the day before. Mix up the icing first thing in the morning Thanksgiving and/or Christmas Day. Depending on when I have them ready--some see breakfast, or an appetizer, or after the dinner, for dessert; perhaps later it's a snack. No matter when I have them ready, at the end of the day, they're gone.
Michael has taken to putting 1/2 dozen or so on a small plate and hiding them for himself. He has found out that if he doesn't get them soon, they'll be gone.
I baked them on Christmas Eve doubling the recipe. My daughter, Jennifer iced them before breakfast on Christmas Day. Surprisingly they lasted until evening when my son, Michael ate the last one and complained that they were all gone! Guess he didn't hide any this year!
1 cup milk
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
5 teaspoons active dry yeast (2 packages)
3 eggs at room temperature, beaten
4 1/2 cups flour
In a sauce pan heat milk, shortening, sugar and salt to 120-130F.
In a large mixing bowl place 1 1/2 cup flour and yeast, mix thoroughly. Gradually add warm liquid mixture, and mix at medium speed of mixer for 2 minutes. Add 1 cup flour and eggs, mix at medium speed for 2 minutes. Stir in enough flour to make a smooth soft dough.
Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead 8-10 minutes. Place dough in a greased bowl, turning to grease dough. Cover and let rise away from drafts until double in bulk, about an hour.
Punch dough down. Divide dough into thirds. Roll each third on lightly floured surface to about 9 inches in diameter. Cut each circle into 12-16 wedges. Roll each wedge, starting with wide edge (crescent style). Arrange on greased baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Cover and let rise until very light, about an hour.
Bake at 450F 15 minutes or until done. When cool, ice with buttercream icing. Roll in nuts if you like. If you are not going to serve them til the next day, place them in plastic containers or plastic bags over night.
6 tablespoons butter
2 cups powdered sugar
2 egg yolks, may be omitted
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons cream
In mixing bowl, cream butter, add sugar gradually and continue creaming. Add yolks and vanilla. Add cream and beat until icing becomes thick and fluffy. Ice the cooled butter horns.
This buttercream icing can be used for other desserts that call for icing.