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Recipes come ‘alive’ with yeast

December 12, 2012
By ESTHER MCCOY - Food editor ( , The Herald-Star

Did you know that handling yeast is like dealing with something alive?

This is what is explained in the Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook printed in 1950 but reprinted exactly as they appear in the original cookbook to reflect the heritage of American cooking.

Eating habits may have changed since 1950, but the fond memories of sharing delicious recipes from this cookbook remain the same, according to the cookbook.

Article Photos

YUMMY — The Brilliant United Methodist Church women baked dozens of nut rolls for their craft bazaar on Saturday. The recipe of Erma Homol, mother to Mary Peck, was used. Showing off the nut rolls that she has known since childhood were Mary Peck, seated, and standing, from left, Cheri McClung, Pam Degenhardt and Debbie Ford.
-- Esther McCoy

"Mom or grandma may have used more salt, sugar and fat in her cooking than we do today, and some ingredients and food safety concerns have changed over the years, so you may want to try these recipes using today's ingredients and methods," the cookbook notes.

Mary Peck has a recipe for small nut rolls that her mother has made through the years. They were made again for the Brilliant United Methodist Church Christmas Bazaar by a dozen or more church women, with some mixing, some rolling, some checking the ovens and others putting them in containers. It was a group just as busy as Santa's elves. And some were even wearing cute little Santa hats.

There is a centuries-old satisfaction in molding yeast dough into attractive shapes, watching the dough rise to a puffy lightness and taking the brown, beautiful and tasteful "works of art" from the oven, according to cookbook.

Here is the nut roll recipe of the late Erma Homol's. It makes a huge quantity that are quality good eating.

Small Nut Rolls

7 to 8 cups flour

3 eggs, beaten together

8-ounce can evaporated milk

1 pound margarine, melted

Large cake yeast or 3 packages dry yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

Place 7 cups flour in a large bowl. Add melted butter and blend. Add eggs and mix in. Place yeast in a cup and add sugar, mixing until it turns to liquid. Add to flour mixture and slowly add canned milk. If it is sticky, add the remaining flour just until the stickiness is gone. Refrigerate overnight. Roll into 1-inch balls. Then roll in a mixture of powdered sugar and granulated sugar. Roll out and spread with nut mixture and bake at 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until slightly golden.

The recipe for the nut mixture was not included for the filling, but I combine 3 cups of ground walnuts or a combination of nuts, 1/3 cup sugar and enough evaporated milk to make a soft paste. Cook for several minutes, stirring continually. Take off the heat and add 1/4 teaspoon almond flavoring and a teaspoon vanilla extract. This has served me well in making nut rolls.

Note: If you have a recipe that calls for half a cake of compressed yeast, rather than keeping the other half for an unknown matter of time, go ahead and use the whole cake of yeast. It will just hasten the raising time. This is from the Betty Crocker Cookbook.

This is another recipe for nut rolls contributed by Mary Gall for the Dobra 2 Cookbook compiled by the Weirton Senior "R" Club, Chapter 58 and the Federated Russian Orthodox Club.

The dough calls for sour cream and cream cheese and is a flaky dough that is wonderful.

Sour Cream Nut Rolls

6 cups flour

1 pound margarine

Large fresh yeast, or 3 packages dry yeast

Half pint sour cream

1 tablespoon sugar

6 ounces of cream cheese

4 egg yolks and 1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoons baking powder

Cream margarine and cream cheese and add sugar. Beat yolks and egg. Add to mixture. Warm sour cream slightly and add yeast; stir and add to the previous mixture. Add vanilla and flour, a cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Knead with the hands. Cover and store in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day, make balls the size of a walnut. Roll out on powdered sugar. Spread with nut filling, roll up, put on ungreased cookie sheet and bake 10 to 15 minutes in 400 degree oven. When done, sprinkle with powdered sugar, or wait until serving time and roll in powdered sugar.

Nut Filling

4 cups ground nuts

2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon honey

4 beaten egg whites

Combine nuts, sugar and honey. Beat egg whites and fold into the nut mixture until combined. Spread on the yeast dough and roll up.

This recipe is from the Dobra 2 Cookbook put together by the Weirton Senior "R" Club, Chapter 58 and the Federate Russian Orthodox Club.

If made in the spring it is called Easter Babe, and at Christmas time, it is Sugar Plum Bread, so we will call it the latter.

The recipe was contributed by Assailant Podolak.

Note: In the Czechoslovakian language, "dobra" means good and from the sound of the recipes in the book that was published in 1999, they are really tasty.

Sugar Plum Bread

3/4 cup hot milk

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled

1 package dry granular yeast

1/4 cup warm water

4 1/2 cups flour

6 eggs, slightly beaten

1/4 cups raisins

1/2 cup chopped nuts

1/2 cup glazed or candied fruit, as used for fruitcakes

In a large mixing bowl, combine milk, sugar and salt. Cool to lukewarm. Add yeast, dissolved in the warm water. Add to milk mixture with 1 cup flour; beat until smooth. Cover; let rise in warm place until spongy and double in bulk, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Beat in butter, eggs, remaining flour, raisins, glazed fruit and nuts, adding just enough flour to make a slightly sticky dough but one easily handled. Cover; let rise in warm place until double in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch down dough. Knead gently on lightly floured board until smooth and elastic. Place in a greased large ring mold, about a 3-quart size. Cover; allow to rise until double. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for about 35 to 40 minutes. When cooled, drizzle with the following icing:

Vanilla Icing Topping

1 1/2 tablespoons milk

1 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Heat together milk and butter over low heat until butter melts. Remove from heat and blend in the sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth and drizzle over bread.

Now this recipe is called Monkey Bread, and the easy way to do it is to get frozen bread dough. Thaw it and make small balls. Roll these in melted butter and then in sugar and cinnamon and pile in a bundt cake pan and bake. This one has a made-from-scratch sweet dough, and finely chopped nuts are used as well as raisins. It is really good. It is from the Betty Crocker Cookbook.

Hungarian Coffee Cake

1 cup lukewarm milk

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 cakes compressed yeast

2 eggs

1/2 cup soft shortening

4 1/2-5 cups flour

Mix together milk, sugar and salt. Crumble the yeast into the mixture. Stir until yeast is dissolved. Stir in beaten eggs and soft shortening. Slowly mix in flour, first with a spoon and then with the hands as more flour is added. Use only the amount of flour to make it soft and almost sticky. This makes for excellent eating and keeping quality. Let rise and punch down. Let rise again and after a second rising, cut dough into the size of unshelled walnuts and form into balls. Roll each ball in the melted butter, sugar, cinnamon and nuts that have been combined. Place a layer of balls so they barely touch in a well greased 9-inch tube pan. Sprinkle with a few raisins. Add another layer of balls, sprinkle with more raisins, pressing them in slightly. Let rise 45 minutes. Bake 35 to 40 minutes at 375 degrees. Loosen from pan. Invert pan so butter sugar mixture runs down over the coffee cake. To serve, break apart with two forks. Serve slightly warm while the sugar mixture is still oozy. Or warm it in the microwave or oven the next day before serving.

This is a Norway Christmas Cake called Jule Kage. This means Glad Yule, and the recipe is from the Betty Crocker Cookbook. I have cardamom if anyone wants to use some.

Jule Kage

1 cup lukewarm milk

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon powdered cardamom

1 cake compressed yeast or 1 1/2 packets dry granulated yeast

1 small egg

2 tablespoons soft shortening

3 1/4 to 3 1/2 cups flour

1/4 cup chopped citron

1/2 cup golden raisins

Mix warm milk, sugar, salt and cardamom together. Crumble yeast into the mixture. Stir until dissolved and add the egg that has been beaten and shortening. Mix in the flour, starting mixing with a spoon but as it gradually gets stiffer, use the hands. Add the citron and raisins last. Knead and let rise twice. Shape into a round loaf and place in a greased 9-inch round pan. Cover and let rise until double, 45 to 60 minutes. Bake until brown.

Note: To make a golden glaze on top, brush slightly with a beaten egg just before baking.

(McCoy can be contacted at

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