The Fresh Loaf

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Reviving Granny Neal's Yeast Rolls and etc.

martino's picture
martino

Reviving Granny Neal's Yeast Rolls and etc.

I've a recipe that I've been toying with for years. This comes from my Great Grandmother Neal (In Memphis, I think... She died long before I was born, probably in the 50s.) I've had good results from it, but I think I can do better with some help from around here.

Here's the recipe as given to me, with a few caveats:

The original recipe called for 2 cakes of yeast. I've converted, using 1 cake of yeast=2 1/4 tsp instant yeast.

The recipe as written called for shortening. I suspect it was originally lard.

As you can see, no flour amounts are provided.

1 quart milk

1 cup shortening

1 cup sugar

flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

4 ½ tsp instant yeast

1Tbsp salt

Combine buttermilk, sugar, and shortening in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat until shortening melts and sugar dissolves. Do not boil.  Cool to lukewarm.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and yeast.

Add the cooled buttermilk mixture and stir, then add enough flour to make a stiff batter.  Let rest several hours until doubled. Punch down.

Combine 1 cup flour and salt. Add to the batter mixture, and then continue adding flour until the proper consistency has been reached.

Place in the refrigerator overnight or until ready to shape rolls.

Shape, proof, and bake at 350° until golden brown and cooked through.

***

I wrote the instructions and greatly elaborated on the technique provided, so it's almost all subject to interpretation/fiddling. About the only think I kept from the original was "stiff batter" and "proper consistency."

***

Thoughts? This seems to me more like an angel biscuit than a roll. They also take forever to brown at 350 degrees.

***

Another recipe from my Great Aunt Becky, who made the best rolls I've ever had:

2 cups milk, scalded

¼ cup shortening

¼ cup sugar

1 tsp salt

5-6 cups plain flour

2 packages yeast

¼ cup water, lukewarm

There was no real text from this recipe other than the bracketed text following; I suppose it's something like:

Combine the shortening, milk, sugar, and salt; add [1/2 cup flour. Beat well.]

Add enough flour to [Make a soft dough (about 4 cups)].

Let proof till doubled; shape, and proof.

[Brush with milk before baking] 

Bake at [400 degrees].

***

I'd like thoughts on both these recipes.....

Both these recipes are Memphis-originated. You think White Lily is the flour to go with here? I've been using Gold Medal All Purpose. 

 

clazar123's picture
clazar123

You are probably right that lard was used or even butter, when it was available. At some point, I would try lard-it makes a wonderfully soft dough!

At those times, biscuits and such were made in a large bowl/pile of flour. A well was made in the middle, the liquid ingredients heated,melted and mixed and then poured into the well. The fingers (best mixers ever) were dipped into the well and used like a whisk to gently incorporate the top layer of the flour into the liquid until you achieved a soft dough. Then the dough ball was carefully removed onto a floured "bread board" to continue mixing and kneading flour in until the correct consistency was achieved. The remaining flour in the big bowl /pile of flour was put away until the next time. Any bits of flour that were wetted  with the liquids were added to the dough-probably just very few- so the flour went away clean and dry. Biscuits were made often so people didn't need to measure the flour-they just incorporated enough to make their dough. You develop quite a "feel" when you make them every day or every few days.

Have fun!

martino's picture
martino

I’ve made biscuits like that before. In fact, I bought a large wooden bowl from a fellow named Neal in I believe South Carolina. He’s probably a distant relative....

He was upset that his granddaughter, I think it was, didn’t have a large wooden biscuit bowl, so he started making and selling them. 

It’s difficult, making biscuits like that, the first several times. But boy, once you get the feel down, you get a soft, light, and meltingly tender biscuit. My grandmother, who took care of me when I was small, made biscuits every single day like that. They’re still, without question, the best biscuits I’ve ever had. And she had Parkinson’s, so her hands shook all the time. An amazing, amazing cook she was, as well. 

clazar123's picture
clazar123

I was talking about "biscuits" and you are talking about "rolls". They are different. Biscuits have bits of butter incorporated using the same method but barely mixed/kneaded. The leavener is baking powder or baking soda.They are rolled out and cut with a biscuit cutter.

Rolls, OTOH, are leavened with yeast and need to be kneaded to develop a good starchy gluten network.

Both use the method I described and both are very delicious!