Janet's Notebook
Homemade Bread Warms Hearth and Soul

Grandma Lee's Party Rolls

Occasionally I'll get asked if the Kitchen Crew gals have favorite types of food to prepare for our own families. Well, I know I'm supposed to be impartial - all cuisine, all ethnicities - but I'll admit I do have a favorite type: easy and delicious!

Between juggling appointments and saucepans, we're like all you moms and grandmas out there; we want to get the most out of the meals we make. A favorite go-to for us has always been homemade bread. While intimidating on the surface, homemade breads are a terrific way to punctuate any meal with a little home-spun flair.

One never-fail, always Blue Ribbon bread comes from Ms. Kellie Scheele-Shulver of Myrtle Beach, SC. Her Honey Whole Wheat so easy and so delicious that it has become a staple of our weekly baking.

"I had made a bread before this and it fell flat," admits Kellie. "I decided to change the recipe up and add a little more [of this and that.] The second time was the charm."

Well, that just goes to show that persistence pays off! With a perfected recipe, Kellie and her husband now regularly enjoy noshing on homemade bread and spreading the good word that baking doesn't have to be difficult.

JoEllen Fortenberry Ford comes from a long line of savvy bakers. In fact, she recently honored that legacy by sharing her grandmother's recipe for Party Rolls.

"I thought for months about the first recipe I would share," says JoEllen. "It had to be the right one to honor my mom."

The recipe she chose to share is a wonderfully classic take on homemade bread. In fact, the only thing remotely difficult about these buttery pull-apart rolls is having the patience to let them rise! It's no wonder there's a party every time these rolls make an appearance; we could easily polish off an entire pan.

"This was my mother's best recipe and we love it beyond description. Not that we can make it as well!" laughs JoEllen. "Soft, tender, high and luscious; it is worth the overnight rise, as they must rise slowly in order to be so light. Grandma Lee would be happy to share it."

It was a hungry hubby that inspired Illinois home cook Rose Mary Mogan to develop her signature bread recipe lovingly referred to as Dan's Favorite Irish Soda Bread.

"This is the Irish Soda bread that my husband Dan loves throughout the year," says Rose Mary. "I make it quite often, not just on Saint Patrick's Day."

You tell 'em, Rose Mary! Why limit delicious recipes like this to just a single day of the year? Soda bread is a great gateway into the world of homemade breads because it uses baking soda as a leavener instead of yeast (which can sometimes seem to have a mind of its own.) Rose Mary likes to add raisins and caraway seeds to her bread, but this recipe is so versatile it could easily support the addition of most any nut or dried fruit.

"I had to add [Dan's] name to the recipe so I could distinguish it from other recipes [because he likes this one so much.] The neighbors love it too. They will usually ask if I have enough to share with them, and of course I am always happy to oblige."

Diligence and an enviable sweet tooth is how it all started for Lori Digilio and her family's beloved Heavenly Honey Rolls.

"When my mother was in college she waited tables at a local restaurant that served a 'secret recipe' honey roll that everyone loved," explains Lori. "My mom and my aunt both worked there and would watch through a window while the rolls were made, trying to guess the ingredients."

After numerous experiments and hours of perusing cookbooks dating back to the early 1900's, Lori's mom and aunt found what they were looking for; a recipe nearly identical to the "secret" rolls they so loved.

"It has been a family favorite ever since," smiles Lori. "It's many years later and now my children are serving these rolls to friends and family that they want to impress."

Lori suggests using frozen bread dough as a time-saver. We've tried these gooey honeys both with prepackaged dough and using a homemade yeast bread dough. Both methods are terrific and perfumed the kitchen with an otherworldly aroma that just cannot be matched. (Let's hear it for tasty shortcuts!)

The cornerstone of every great meal - and memory - is often the hearty homemade breads that warm the hearth... and the soul. We have prepared so many wonderful dishes in the Just A Pinch Test Kitchen, but at the end of the day we have a special heart spot reserved for recipes like these. When mixed with a little TLC, straightforward ingredients can combine to cause a serious "ka-blam!" moment when they hit the table. Happy baking!

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Patsy Fowler - Nov 5, 2012
I didn't know how to contact you but i have a question. I want to so much upgrade to the club. I have a problem i am on a fixed income and i don't have a check account or cridit cards to pay. I was wondering if you take money orders or do you have another suggestion. Thank you so much for your help. Patsy Fowler
Heidi Hoerman - Nov 5, 2012
And nothing makes your friends and neighbors happier than being handed a loaf or chunk of homemade bread to take home. I make bread the lazy way by using weight to measure the ingredients and then doing the stretch and fold method to develop the dough. No kneading needed. I've shared this method in Heavenly Hard Rolls. Most of the time is spent ignoring the bread to let it develop on its own into wonderful chewy bread. The easy way to make good bread consistently is to use "baker's percentages" to measure the ingredients. Consider flour to be 100% and then measure the other ingredients as percentages of the flour. Today's loaf, which just had its third stretch-and-fold, is 600g (100%) malted flour, 9g (1.5%) salt, 9g (1.5%) yeast and 450g (75%) water. The reason for using grams rather than ounces is because the numbers are just arithmetically easier to work with on the scale.
Linda Fields - Nov 4, 2012
These all look sooooo good, too bad i have to have gluten free. Do you have a good roll and/or bread recipes thats GF?
samantha brewer - Nov 3, 2012
i tried this recipe and they were the bomb
Amy Shoup - Nov 3, 2012
I love my Kitchen Aid mixer toO!!!! Do all my cooking with it.
Juanita Nickerson - Nov 2, 2012
I use my Kitchen Aid mixer to do my bread It works great for that.
Catherine Smith - Oct 31, 2012
We love homemade bread. However, I no longer have the strength in my hands to do much kneading, so I figured out a way to "cheat" a bit. My boys bought me a fancy bread machine some years ago, that does everything but kiss ya. I've adapted many of my grandmother and mother's bread recipes so I can use the machine. I let it do the kneading for me. I pull the dough out before it goes to the "bake" cycle. Allow it to rise again, depending on what type I'm doing, and bake in the oven. Yummy!!
Deborah Wilson - Oct 30, 2012