Hometown Cooking with Michelle McLean

Hometown Cooking
I’m a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl who is addicted to chocolate and Goldfish crackers and spent most of my formative years with my nose in a book. I have a B.S. in History, a M.A. in English, and love my romance with a touch of suspenseful mystery. I’m a total sucker for historicals and romantic comedies, love to laugh, cry at the drop of a hat, am not fond of odd numbers, and would dress like a 17th century French courtier if I could get away with it.

I’m not sure where my mom got this recipe but she’s made them for every special occasion in our lives, especially holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’m a bread junkie anyways, but these are so mouth-wateringly delicious I could very happily eat nothing else for the rest of my life. They are sweet without being too sweet, and go with everything. And the dough is very versatile. I’ve used it to make dinner rolls, crescent rolls, cinnamon rolls, what we call scones (where you take balls of dough, pull them to thin and elongate, and then fry – eat smothered in butter, jam, sugar, whatever you want), and Santa bread (see pic).

The rolls are perfect to accompany dinner and to make left over sandwiches left afterwards. Holidays just aren’t holidays without the smell of this bread baking in the oven. It smells like home. And the Santa bread (I’ve also shaped it into Easter eggs, Christmas trees, and a turkey) make awesome gifts for the neighbors!

2 cups warm water
3 packages yeast (or 1 tablespoon)
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt
¾ cup powdered milk
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon shortening
6 ½ cups flour


Mix in mixer in order given. Let rise until double. Shape as desired (works well for crescent rolls, or regular round rolls). Bake at 400° for 10-15 minutes. Makes about 32 rolls.

For Santa bread, divide dough into two pieces, one a little smaller than the other. Shape the larger piece into an elongated oval (like a long round tear drop) for the face. Take the smaller portion and cut in half. Take one piece and fashion into the beard, forming into a semi-circle shape. Create the “hair” by taking scissors or a pizza cutter and cutting the dough into strips (stopping about an inch from the top). Place on Santa’s face and twist and curl the strips, positioning on the face as desired. Take the other half of the dough and create the mustache, nose, and ball and brim for the hat. For the mustache, roll a piece of the dough into a snake shape, flatten a bit, and place above the beard. Use the scissors to cut 3 strips on each side and twist and curl like you did for the beard. Make a small ball for the nose and place above the mustache. Make a large snake shape for the hat brim and place under the hat. Fold the top of the hat (the top of the elongated oval that you made the face out of) and then place a ball of dough at the tip for the pom-pom. To color, mix food coloring to an egg yolk and brush the color on where desired. Use raisins or chocolate chips for the eyes.
Bake as directed for the rolls, but keep an eye on it. Bread will be ready when the non-colored parts are golden brown and sound hollow when thumped.




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