Grandma Beers’s Buns

My great grandmother Twila Beers was famous for her Buns, or rolls, as I would normally call them, but since it’s her recipe, I’m trying to stick to her terms.  I may refer to my readers as y’ins while writing this post as well. Just so you know.

A few weeks ago I was making bread in the brad machine and had a sudden urge to try and make the famous Buns. So I emailed mum and dad and asked for the recipe. A couple of days later I received this from Mum:

Well I found it in my recipe box and here it is – hope it has all the required info. I never made them but must have copied the recipe from her sometime – it’s handwritten by me on a recipe card:

3 1/2 tbs Crisco Oil
2 packages dry yeast
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tbs salt
3 cups lukewarm water

Mix together and add flour till dough raises up. Leave one hour and then knead again. Break off pieces and put buns touching on cookie sheet and bake about 20 minutes at 350F

And this:

Alison – just realized that this does not have the amount of flour required!! I am copying this note to Wilma and Luella and hope that perhaps they have the recipe. I could not believe it when I read add flour and it did not say how much!!

It just occurred to me that perhaps Grandma just added flour until it got to the right consistency??

OK. But I also got a note from Dad saying he’sd asked cousin Maureen. And a few days later, I got this:

GRANDMA’S BUNS(written down as she taught me–a little over 100years ago) lol

5 C warm water
2 envelopes yeast or 1 cake of household yeast(probably can’t find this anymore in small amounts)
1 C shortening
1 C sugar
flour–this is the problem!!! After many attempts,most of which were good just not perfect, I broke it down
to 4 – 5 cups or until you get the ‘feel’ of the dough.
Don’t put in so much that the dough get tough or too stiff–it needs to be a soft dough but not sticky.

So, right. I probably need somewhere between 4 & 5 cups of flour, but do I need 3 cups of water, or 5, and 3tbs of oil, or a cup of shortening? And sugar? How much of that?

Nothing daunted, today I decided to have a go.

I decided on 3 cups of water, 3tsp of yeast (we don’t buy it in small packets, and while you can get small cakes of fresh yeast here, I don’t have any), 3/4 cup of sugar, 4tbs of oil and 1/2 tbs of salt.

So in metric that’s 750ml water, 150 grammes of sugar. That’s an awful lot of sugar.  Whatever, I just need to get on with it.  I measured out 5 cups of flour and it was about 700 grammes.   I mixed the water yeast and sugar, and added all the wet ingredients to 2 cups of flour, and mixed, then added the rest of the flour. That almost sounded like it might be right, 750ml water to 700gm flour, maybe this was going to work?

Eh, no. That made soup. Literally liquid sdwilling around in the kitchenaid.  I added another 100gm of flour. Nope. Another. Still soup. And another, so I was up to a kilo of flour. Still too wet, but I couldn’t face adding anymore, so here is what I turned into a bowl to rise.


I know, that’s not bread dough, but quite frankly, I was done.

I went away and did some sewing for an hour, and when I got back it had more or less doubled. I should have had Nico come and take photos, or possibly even video of me trying to turn that bowl of glue into Buns, but if I had I wouldn have had to moderate my language…

I grabbed the dough by the handfull and tried to then get it off my fingers and onto the pizza tray. eventually I had a tray full of dough, and a whole bunch of dough left in my bowl, so I put that in a round cake pan. No, I don’t know why I did that either, but I wasn’t mysef at the time.

I went away again (I managed to finish Nico’s hoodie today.) and when I came back I stuck the pizza tray of glue in the oven. And set the timer for 25 minutes, which wasn’t what either recipe said, but it sounded good to me. Eh, no. I ended up baking it for 50 minutes, and this is what I ended up with.

Why does it have those funny white bits on the top?  Whatever. Nico and I waited 20 minutres and then tried one with butter. It was, well, kinda good. But really only in the way that *any* fresh bread is good. for one thing it was way way way too sweet for my taste. When we make bread we usually put 2tbs in, and this was maybe twice as much bread and about 5 times as much sugar.  It is light and fluffy, and has a nice flavour except for all that sugar. And it’s salty, but I like that.

The verdict? Not a huge success, but at least it’s edible. I will try again. Way less water and sugar to my 700gm of flour though. Come back soon, I might actually get around to making them again in the next week or so…

This worked though:

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