Sunday, February 1, 2009

Butter. Mmmm, Butter.

My parents will recognize the cover of this cookbook, and my sisters will recognize at least part of the name. Endicott, Washington, is the town to which my great-grandfather (Conrad Schierman) and his three brothers moved after emigrating from Russia. They were Volga Germans, and established what became known as the Palouse Colony, which became a destination for many other Volga German immigrants -- either as a place to settle, or as a place to get used to America!

Conrad Schierman had a large wheat farm outside of town, on which he raised his eight children (including my grandmother, Esther Schierman Bergman). My father also spent large chunks of his growing-up years on The Farm. The land around Endicott is smooth, rolling hills. In the spring, the ground seems upholstered in green velvet (which is really the sprouting wheat), and in the late summer, just before harvest, the whole earth seems to be one carpet of white-gold.
Even today, many of the farming families have German/Volga German backgrounds. Potlucks in this part of the state are outrageously delicious. The food is not fancy or gourmet -- it's good, old-fashioned farm food. Lots of meats, potatoes, casseroles ... and desserts. Pies, cakes, cobblers. You do NOT need to worry about calories when you're working hard on a farm! (You know, like I do all the time.) Our family reunions are absolutely sinful when it comes to food. I can't even tell you.

My mom gave me this cookbook several years ago for my birthday. It was actually published in 1964 by the Endicott Education Association and the communities of Endicott and Winona (another small town nearby) -- I assume as a fundraiser for the school. Here is one of my favorite recipes from it. It looks long, but is really very uncomplicated:

***Sweet Rolls *** (Mrs. Elmer Bafus)


2 T dry yeast
1/2 c. lukewarm water
1/2 c. sugar
1 c. milk
1 t. salt
3 eggs
5 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. vegetable oil

Soften yeast in lukewarm water to which 1 t. sugar has been added. Scald milk, pour into large bowl. Add sugar and salt. Cook to lukewarm. Stir in yeast mixture. Add beaten eggs and part of flour (about 2 c.). Add oil. Mix well. Add remaining flour and knead until smooth (dough should be kept as soft as possible -- almost sticky). Let rise in warm place until double in bulk -- about 1 hour. Knead briefly (adding a very small amount of flour if necessary to prevent sticking), and let rise again until almost double -- about 45 minutes. Divide dough in half. Roll one portion into oblong 15 x 9 inches. [Mrs. Bafus here gives directions for making only the one portion of the dough into sweet rolls, and suggests making the rest into dinner rolls. If you want to make two pans of sweet rolls, just do the following instructions twice.]


4 T melted butter [personally, I just dump some vegetable oil on the rolled-out dough and swirl it around with my fingers--that's the way Grandma Bergman did it]
1/2 c. brown sugar [I never measure this part or the cinnamon --just dump away!]
1/8 t. cinnamon

Brush rolled dough with melted butter. Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Roll up as jelly roll [starting with the long side]. Cut into 1-inch slices.


1/3 c. melted butter
1/4 c. corn syrup (or maple syrup)
1/2 c. brown sugar

Pour melted butter in 12 x 8 1/2 inch pan. Sprinkle in brown sugar and add syrup. Place rolls in pan. Let rise till double in bulk, about 45 minutes. Place in 375 degree oven for 20 minutes. Makes about 20 rolls.

Enjoy! And thank you, Mrs. Bafus, wherever you are.

Love, kristin


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  2. have you ever used walnuts on the rolls? this recipe sounds very much like mom's - bringing back all sorts of memories. she always added walnuts and raisins before rolling the dough. if i was coming home, she would make a few for me sans raisins. i shall give this a try soon.