Homemade bread warms the hearth

Published 10:47 pm Tuesday, October 23, 2012

By Janet Tharpe

Occasionally I’ll get asked if the Kitchen Crew gals at www.justapinch.com have favorite types of food to prepare for our own families. Well, I know I’m supposed to be impartial — all cuisine, all ethnicities — but I’ll admit I do have a favorite type: easy and delicious!

Grandma Lee's Party Rolls

Between juggling appointments and saucepans, we’re like all you moms and grandmas out there; we want to get the most out of the meals we make. A favorite go-to for us has always been homemade bread. While intimidating on the surface, homemade breads are a terrific way to punctuate any meal with a little homespun flair.

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One never-fail, always-blue ribbon bread comes from Kellie Scheele-Shulver of Myrtle Beach, S.C. Her honey whole wheat is so easy and so delicious that it has become a staple of our weekly baking.

“I had made a bread before this, and it fell flat,” Kellie says. “I decided to change the recipe up and add a little more [of this and that.] The second time was the charm.”

Well, that just goes to show that persistence pays off. With a perfected recipe, Kellie and her husband now regularly enjoy noshing on homemade bread and spreading the good word that baking doesn’t have to be difficult.

JoEllen Fortenberry Ford comes from a long line of savvy bakers. In fact, she recently honored that legacy by sharing her grandmother’s recipe for party rolls.

“I thought for months about the first recipe I would share,” JoEllen says. “It had to be the right one to honor my mom.”

The recipe she chose is a wonderfully classic take on homemade bread. In fact, the only thing remotely difficult about these buttery pull-apart rolls is having the patience to let them rise!

“This was my mother’s best recipe and we love it beyond description. Not that we can make it as well!” JoEllen laughs. “Soft, tender, high and luscious; it is worth the overnight rise, as they must rise slowly in order to be so light. Grandma Lee would be happy to share it.”

Diligence and an enviable sweet tooth is how it all started for Lori Digilio and her family’s beloved heavenly honey rolls.

“When my mother was in college, she waited tables at a local restaurant that served a ‘secret recipe’ honey roll that everyone loved,” explains Lori. “My mom and my aunt both worked there and would watch through a window while the rolls were made, trying to guess the ingredients.”

After numerous experiments and hours of perusing cookbooks dating back to the early 1900’s, Lori’s mom and aunt found what they were looking for; a recipe nearly identical to the “secret” rolls they so loved.

“It has been a family favorite ever since,” Lori says. “It’s many years later, and now my children are serving these rolls to friends and family that they want to impress.”

Lori suggests using frozen bread dough as a time-saver. We’ve tried these gooey honeys both with prepackaged dough and using a homemade yeast bread dough. Both methods are terrific and perfumed the kitchen with an otherworldly aroma that just cannot be matched. (Let’s hear it for tasty shortcuts!)

The cornerstone of every great meal — and memory — is often the hearty homemade bread that warms the hearth … and the soul.

We have prepared so many wonderful dishes in the Just A Pinch Test Kitchen, but at the end of the day we have a special heart spot reserved for recipes like these. When mixed with a little TLC, straightforward ingredients can combine to cause a serious “ka-blam!” moment when they hit the table. Happy baking!