PORT HOOD, N.S. —
“This is really fun, it’s like having you in for tea.”
And, yes, she does put the tea on.
For many, Mary Janet MacDonald is the stepdancing matriarch of a musical family, including, but not limited to, “Canadian Idol” runner-up, Mitch MacDonald, or as she calls him Mitchell. Also Brennan. And Kelly. And Krista. And Gordie. And Tammy. And Margie.
However, these days, she’s more likely to be asked about her baking skills than the technique of her reel steps.
“It’s taken on a life of its own,” MacDonald said. “It just makes me smile that people are doing this.”
While people are stuck inside socially isolating, MacDonald decided to share her knowledge on how to properly make Cape Breton cinnamon rolls via a Facebook video that has been viewed more than 18,000 times on Facebook.
One of her daughters, Margie, a high school math teacher, suggested MacDonald take on the project to help the days pass in the age of social isolation.
“She said, ‘Why don’t you make something,’ That’s how it started.
“In some way it brings us together, even though we’re apart.”
MacDonald admits she never thought of doing anything similar beforehand.
It resulted in a 56-minute YouTube tutorial on the preparation of the proper Cape Breton cinnamon roll. MacDonald sends out a proper shout-out to all grandchildren and significant others in the video and displays proper handwashing protocol. She also encourages those who follow her recipe to send her a photo of their efforts.
She also offers advice for those baking on the fly. Maybe you only have coffee creamers, she can direct you. You can also use her dough recipe to make traditional biscuits.
People indicated they were watching from locations including Quebec and Alberta.
Cinnamon rolls have been a favourite for years for her own children and now for her grandkids, MacDonald said.
“When they come to visit grandma, they can’t wait for me to make cinnamon rolls,” she said.
In real time while waiting for the rolls to bake, MacDonald began receiving messages from people as far away as Alberta and Scotland.
MacDonald said she’s been overwhelmed by the number of people sending photos of their cinnamon rolls after following her recipe.
Grandsons of a friend in Toronto even sent a video after watching her tutorial on an iPad.
After initially posting the first video, the local co-op started running low on some ingredients
The plan, going forward, is to present new recipes each Sunday afternoon, from cookies to porridge bread. She said the recipes will be simple but the instruction will be lively. The plan is to do the next live feed from her son Mitch’s house, which is three doors away from where she and her husband Cecil live in Port Hood. She added she hopes Mitch may choose to entertain those who tune in during the baking. Otherwise, she will play some local artists.
MacDonald, now 68, said she never expected to become a YouTube star.
“You’re never too old to do something new,” she said.
Mary Janet MacDonald’s cinnamon rolls
Preheat oven to 450 F
4 cups of flour
6 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
2 heaping tbsp white sugar
½ cup shortening
From there, Mary Janet uses Becel and cinnamon/brown sugar to instinct
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