Like My Mother Made
My husband doesn’t spend a lot of time wallowing in nostalgia for the foods that his mother cooked. But he has frequently mentioned his mother’s cinnamon rolls, so I figured I’d better find a recipe that could replicate Agnes Badertscher’s cinnamon rolls, which were actually made from a sweet roll dough. What I got was both a surprise and a bonus of three recipes in one, including a loaf of just about the best white bread I’ve ever had.
White sweet bread loaf from Grandma Kohler’s sweet roll recipe.
I contacted Kay Badertscher Bass, Ken’s sister, who has written here before about vintage Badertscher recipes and about the Dalton Dariette run by their uncle. She knew immediately what rolls her brother was talking about, and informed me that they were actually from a sweet dough recipe of Ken’s Grandmother, Helen Kohler. Even better, I thought, a three generation recipe I could pass on to my grand daughter as I did my own grandmother Anderson’s sugar cookie recipe.
Kay went digging for the sweet roll dough recipe, and soon I got the following e-mail, which sheds light on the history of the yeast dough. Turns out it yields three or four different types of sweet rolls, if you would be overwhelmed by three dozen cinnamon rolls and want variety. Here’s Kay’s message that describes a novel way to help along the rising sweet roll dough.
The Original Sweet Roll Dough Recipe
Well, that’s shocking!! the traditional way of making a vintage family recipe three generations ago was frozen bread dough??? That certainly plays hob with our assumptions of what is vintage, doesn’t it?
*One thing still puzzles us. Grandma Kohler called the recipe New Year’s Bread, but she did not make a braided bread that is the tradition in Swiss and German New Year’s Breads. I checked out my vintage Sonnenberg Centennial cookbook, and found the recipe for New Year’s Bread which is only slightly different, so next time I make this recipe, I may experiment with a braided loaf. Wish me luck.
At any rate, I blended some of the instructions in the Sonnenberg book (from a recipe submitted by a close friend of Agnes Badertscher) and I made Kohler’s recipe for sweet roll dough (before she turned to frozen bread dough), and enjoyed making a pretty big batch of dough. I made a dozen cinnamon rolls, a dozen cloverleaf rolls and one delicious free-form loaf.
Grandma Kohler’s sweet roll dough BEFORE rising! you can see by the 2-cup measure on the side that this is a large amount of dough.
Cinnamon rolls from Grandma Kohler’s sweet roll dough.
Ken looked at the rolls and immediately said those words every wife dreads–“Not like my mother’s.” When I turned it over and showed him the side where I had sprinkled granola, obscuring the coils of the cinnamon roll, he said, “That looks more like it.” Then he gave it the taste test. Really good, he said. But that is not my mother’s coffee cake.
What we have here is a failure to communicate. He apparently was thinking of his mother’s baking-powder raised coffee cake with streusel on top rather than the more elaborate yeast dough that goes into the sweet rolls.
Oh well, nothing lost. He (and I) enjoyed every bit of the cinnamon rolls, sweet dinner rolls and white bread that the sweet roll dough provided.
Adapted Sweet Roll Dough Recipe
Here is the sweet roll dough recipe–hopefully a little clearer than the “by gosh and by golly” instructions that came directly from grandma Kohler and Ken’s mother.
Do not be intimidated by the length of the recipe. Remember, I am trying to give you fairly detailed instructions for making THREE kinds of breads.
THANK YOU KAY!
Sweet Roll Dough – Cinnamon Rolls, Dinner Rolls, Bread
|3 hours, 45 minutes
Egg, Milk, Wheat
Child Friendly, Freezable, Pre-preparable
A tried and true family recipe yields cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls or loaves of white bread.
- 2 packets active dry yeast (Equivalent: 4 1/2 teaspoons)
- 1/2 cup warm water (Comfortable to drop on wrist.)
- 1 heaped teaspoon sugar (for proofing yeast)
- 1/2 cup sugar (for dough)
- 6-7 cups flour (plus more for kneading and patting out dough.)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening
- 2 cups milk (heat just short of boiling)
- 2 eggs (beaten lightly)
Cinnamon roll topping
- 1/2 cup butter (melted)
- 6 tablespoons white sugar
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 3 teaspoons cinnamon
Cinnamon roll topping
- 1/3 cup granola cereal or chopped nuts
|Sprinkle yeast on warm water in 2-cup container.Briefly mix in teaspoon of sugar. Set aside.
|Blend dry ingredients--3 cups of the flour, 1/2 C sugar, salt.
|Heat milk with butter and vegetable shortening and cool to lukewarm.
|With electric mixer in large bowl, beat the dry ingredients (with the 3 cups of flour) and and the hot milk/shortening mixture until batter is smooth.
|Add the yeast (which will have risen if it is active) and the eggs and stir with spoon until blended into very sticky dough.
|Work remaining flour into dough with fingers, 1/2-1 cup at a time until the dough no longer sticks to fingers. Use as much of the 3 cups as you need.
|Turn dough out on lightly floured surface and knead until springy and elastic.
|Shape into a ball, and place in greased mixing bowl. Put the smooth side down first, and then turn the dough that all surfaces are oily. (You can use the same bowl you mixed the dough in if you first scrape out most of the dried dough sticking to the surface.) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a tea towel.
|Let rise until doubled in warm, draft-free location. ( 1 to 2 hours)
|Divide the dough into two or three pieces. Put the pieces you are not working with in the refrigerator.
|For Cinnamon rolls, pat out the dough to a rough rectangle, then roll out (if you use 1/3 of the dough it will be about 14" x 18". )
|Grease 9 x 9 square pan or large pie pan, or cookie sheet for cinnamon rolls and mix the sugars and cinnamon for topping. If you are using granola or nuts, sprinkle them on the bottom of the pan.
|Brush the top of the dough rectangle with melted butter, and sprinkle on the sugar-cinnamon mixture.
|Roll the dough up from one long side to make a log and pinch closed the seam.
|Using a very sharp knife or a piece of unwaxed dental floss, cut one-inch pieces from the log.
|Place the rolls on the pan. If you use a cookie sheet and leave space between they will be crusty. If you place the side by side in a pan they will be softer on the sides. Cover with a tea towel and set aside to rise.
|When the rolls have risen by a third to double their original height (30-45 minutes), bake in 375 degree oven for 15 minutes (longer for glass pans).
|To make dinner rolls, shape one batch of dough as you wish--clover leaf by placing three walnut-sized pieces of dough in a muffin tin; Parker house by placing balls of dough side by side in cake pan, etc. Place in buttered pan. Let rise and bake as for cinnamon rolls. When they come out of the oven, brush the tops with butter.
Free form loaf of bread
|To make a free form loaf of bread, make a rectangle as described for the cinnamon rolls. Fold the dough over in thirds lengthwise, pinch the seam closed, and fold under the ends to make a nice shape. Place with seam side down on greased cookie sheet. Raise and bake as described for other rolls, except that it may take a little longer. Test doneness by knocking with knuckles to see if you get a hollow sound. Brush top of bread with butter when it comes out of oven.
The 1/2 cup of butter is more than enough for the cinnamon rolls if you are making 1/3 of the recipe into cinnamon rolls. I used the rest to butter the pans and to brush on the top of the dinner rolls and the bread.
If you are making more than 1/3 of the dough into cinnamon rolls, increase the sugar/cinnamon ratios for the topping.
I have described the three things I did with this dough. Making a good sized loaf of bread, a dozen cloverleaf dinner rolls and a dozen cinnamon rolls. Of course, there is nothing to prevent you from making all cinnamon rolls, all dinner rolls, or whatever you wish. The bread and dinner rolls should freeze nicely. The cinnamon rolls are problematic because of the sugar. And of course you can add raisins or dried fruit or seeds or nuts to the dinner rolls and bread.
This is a recipe with tremendous flexibility.