Authors in the Kitchen: Ann Roth

Today my guest is Ann Roth, who shares her mom's recipe for what is possibly the ultimate comfort food: homemade white bread.

I love to cook, and many of my novels feature heroines who love to cook, or who wish they could master the skill. I wasn’t always interested in cooking, in fact, never thought about it. Until I was sixteen. That year, during summer vacation, my mom decided I should learn to cook. She taught me to make two delectable dishes—fried chicken and homemade yeast white bread. These days, my family prefers unfried fried chicken to the greasy, fried stuff… but that’s a recipe for another time.

The bread recipe Mom shared with me is perfect for a novice bread maker. It requires limited kneading, yet rises tall, with a wonderful texture and sweet taste. It goes well with stews and soups, or toasted with butter and jam or honey, or with melted cheese on top. (I am making myself salivate…)

The same recipe also makes light, delectable rolls. Friends and family alike love them, and every Thanksgiving I serve them to rave reviews.

My mother is gone now, but I remember her later years, when instead of making the rolls, she sat on a stool, directing the cooking.

Here is her recipe.

Mom’s bread and yeast rolls

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 heaping Tbs. Crisco
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 2 packages yeast
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 7 – 7 1/2 cups unbleached flour

In a large bowl, combine sugar, salt and Crisco. Add 1/2 cup boiling water and stir to dissolve Crisco. Set aside to cool.

While mixture cools, in a small bowl combine the yeast with 1/2 cup lukewarm water; stir to dissolve. When Crisco mixture has cooled to tepid, add yeast, 2 beaten eggs and 7 cups flour. No need to knead this right now, just mix with a big spoon (will be very gooey). I like to use a wooden spoon. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth, set in a warmish place, and let rise for 2 hours.

For bread:

Turn onto floured surface. Knead three times. First though, remove rings and other jewelry, as the dough  is sticky, and your hands will be a mess. Divide in half, roll into balls and place each ball into a greased bread pan. Cover with a damp cloth, set in a warmish place, and let rise for I hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Let cool in pan 10 minutes. Use a dinner knife to carefully loosen the bread from the pan. Slide onto cooling rack to finish cooling. Delicious warm or at room temperature.

For rolls:

Flour a surface, turn out dough and roll to 1/'2 inch thick. Don't overhandle, or the dough will be tough. Cut out rolls. I use a round cookie cutter, but a floured glass will do. Use a dinner knife to crease each roll, then fold over and pinch the edges together. Set on greased cookie sheets. Cover with a damp cloth, set in a warmish place, Let rise 1 hour. Bake at 425 degrees for approximately 10 minutes, until golden brown.

Leftover rolls or bread may be wrapped and frozen, but I doubt you’ll have leftovers for long.

For more recipes and a list of my books, visit my website at ann@annroth.net.