Grandma never made yeast breads. I don't know why, though I do have a supposition, which is that grandpa had worked for both Wonder Bread and Omar Bakery, and grandpa always had ideas about how things should be done or made. I think (and notice it is just a 'think', not based on any real or tangible evidence) that grandma didn't want to hear about how she should have done this or that, that she hadn't kneaded the dough long enough, or whatever else grandpa may have come up with. I am not trying to slam grandpa, it is just that we all know what he was like.
I asked grandma one time, shortly after I'd taught myself to make bread, why she didn't make bread since it was so easy. She just told me because she could 'never do it right', though she managed to do everything else right, which is why I have my supposition, and I am sure most of you will think so, too.
I got married to my first husband in November of 1974. On December 27, Tim and I moved into my dad's trailer, which was sitting empty as my dad had gotten remarried in May of that same year, and we had moved to Columbus, near Whitehall. Dad had tried to rent the trailer, but no one seemed to work out, so Tim and I moved in and would live there for the next 27 months. It was already home to me, so it was so nice to move back to where I'd lived the past 2 years.
I'd go up to grandma's about once a week as Tim and I would go to visit. It was now about the first week of January, bitterly cold (it never got above zero for twenty days in January of 1975), and the snow had turned to ice and crunched under foot. But off to grandma and grandpa's we'd go, regardless of the weather, and their house was always so warm and inviting, with a basement full of coal, the ever-percolating coffee pot on the back of the stove, and warm scents emanating from the oven.
That night when we went to leave, grandma handed me a paper sack that held a five pound bag of flour, a five pound bag of sugar, a three-strip envelope of Fleischmann's yeast, a copy of the booklet "Fleischmann's New Treasury Of Yeast Baking", a few potatoes and onions, and five dollars for gas.
Wow! What a treasure of things to bring back home! I told grandma I didn't know how to make bread, but she told me I could learn, hence the conversation about bread as related above. I went home and read through that magical book that night with all of those beautiful pictures of breads of all kinds.
I read that book for the next two weeks before I felt brave enough to try to make my first loaf of bread~basic white bread. Yum! The aroma of that bread baking filled our trailer with the most wonderful scent! I ended up with two lovely white loaves of bread and a passion for bread baking, and all because grandma was so thoughtful as to send me home with one of her cook books, some flour, sugar, and yeast, and an attitude of assurance that I could make bread if I wanted to.
In the back of this book, which I still have, is a hand-written recipe by grandma for Potato Refrigerator Rolls that grandma said were just delicious! In fact, I remember her deliberately writing this recipe in the back of the book so I would have the recipe. They are delicious. I am going to post the recipe exactly as grandma wrote it, and where needed, I will write in parenthesis the right word.
Potato Refrigerator Rolls
1 pkg dry yeast (1 envelope)
1/2 cup warm H2O (water)
1 cup mashed potatoes (unseasoned)
2/3 cup shortening*
1 tsp salt*
1 cup milk, scalded
1/4 cup sugar
6-8 cups flour*
Cook and mash potatoes, add shortening, sugar, salt, and eggs to mix bowl. Cream well.
Dissolve yeast in warm H2O (water), add lukewarm milk then potato mix~add sifted flour, make soft dough. Knead well. Put in mixing bowl. Rise till double. Knead lightly, grease top with melted butter~cover and put into refrig~ready to use.
1 1/2 hours before baking pinch off and shape. Let rise~bake 350 degrees til brown~20-25 minutes.
*When you mash the potatoes do not add milk or butter. Make sure you knead for 6-8 minutes until soft and elastic. Place in a greased mixing bowl, cover to grease top. Let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch down dough. Knead lightly on a board, grease top with melted butter, cover with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator until ready to use (dough will take on a sour dough taste if not used same day).
*To make this recipe much more healthy, replace the shortening with lard, the salt with real sea salt (pink or grey), and half the flour with whole wheat flour.