Doughy Delights

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Sourdough Recipe (no-knead)
Grape-Nuts Bread
Old-Fashioned Brown Bread
Boston Brown Bread
Crusty Water Rolls
Sticky Buns
Easy Overnight Pecan rolls
Cinnamon Pecan Sticky Buns
Bread Pudding
Chocolate Zucchini Bread
Chocolate Zucchini Bread

I’ve been obsessed with sourdough since I was a child. I’ll never forget the moist, warm air surrounding an oven bursting with fresh-baked bread and the tangy scent of sourdough when my mother walked with me through the restaurant where she kept the books. As I grew up, sourdough bread with a sufficiently crispy outer crust – not too hard to eat, but chewy enough to be considered a bit of culinary work- was just an arm’s length away. Imagine my surprise when I moved away from the central coast of California and realized that great sourdough was truly a regional treat.

Sourdough is the oldest form of leavened bread dating back 6,000 years to ancient Egypt. Wild yeast and bacteria (lactobacilli) feeding on a mixture of water and flour formed a bubbling starter that when used to make dough resulted in a bread full of air pockets with a tangy flavor. Starters came and went, but many were kept alive for centuries, if not longer. In 19th-century America, sourdough bread was so important to California miners that they kept their starter close and even slept with it in the winter to prevent freezing. Pioneers traveling West often shed items that no longer seemed worth the trouble to carry; however, their sourdough starter and cast-iron cookers weren’t on that list.

Start your own starter

Creating your own sourdough starter is simple. Take your flour of choice and room-temperature water in equal parts and mix them together in a glass or crockery bowl (start small and add to it each day, 1/4 cup of each is plenty). Be sure the water isn’t too warm or you might end up killing the microbes responsible for initiating fermentation. Although not recommended by all sourdough makers, I add a touch of honey to “feed” the starter, which speeds up the process.

Always use a glass container, preferably with a wide opening, and a wooden spoon. Metal and acid don’t mix well, and you can ruin your starter by storing it in metal.

To increase the amount of starter, place your container in a warm, draft-free location, like the inside of a pilot-ignited gas oven, the top of the refrigerator or a nice warm cupboard. Be prepared to feed and stir the new starter daily with equal parts flour and water. When the batter is bubbly and you detect a slight sour smell, it’s ready to use, or you can store it in the fridge for later.

Keeping Starter Active

To keep your starter active, feed it once a week or at least every two weeks. I let my starter come to room temperature, discard half of it (or use this half for a recipe of pancakes, bread or biscuits), then feed it equal parts flour and water. Stir well and put back in the fridge.

160-year-old starter

If you want to consume a bit of history and help keep it alive, obtain a sourdough starter sample from Carl’s Friends (, a group of people who continue to maintain a bread-making brew that traces its beginnings to an 1847 wagon trip on the Oregon Trail. It turns out that Carl T. Griffith’s great-grandmother created the starter in 1847 as she journeyed (and cooked) along the Oregon Trail from Missouri to Oregon. She kept the starter going as did subsequent ancestors until Carl passed away in 2000 at age 80. But the starter was far from lost because for years Carl had carefully dried and mailed it to anyone who asked and included a self-addressed and stamped envelope with their request. Today, the Carl’s Friends organization continues that tradition.

Carl wrote that he learned to cook with his great-grandmother’s starter in a Basque sheep camp on his family’s homestead in the Steens Mountains of southeastern Oregon when he was just 10 years old. He made his bread in a cast-iron Dutch oven over in-ground coals and covered with dirt (the same way many chuckwagon enthusiasts still cook).

When I received my dried starter and reactivated it, the instant tang of sourdough greeted me like an old friend.

Once revived, I put my 1847 starter to use for a batch of no-knead bread using a traditional recipe that I modified just a bit. I put my (well-seasoned) cold Dutch oven in the oven and warmed them both together. Then, I literally poured my no-knead recipe into the hot Dutch oven, covered it and baked it.

The smell permeated the house; children and husband hovered about wondering what was baking. We got our “real” butter ready and after letting the bread cool for about 10 minutes, we cut into the loaf. It was a bit flat, but the holes were nice and big. The crust was the best part, just chewy enough to give texture, but not so chewy to cramp the jaw while eating it.

Next time, I plan to use a smaller Dutch oven to get the bread to rise a bit higher. But you can’t beat the no-knead recipe for ease in making sourdough bread.

A native of California, MaryAnna Clemons now lives in Colorado Springs. She and her military husband, a Kansas native, share four children, six horses, five dogs, five cats and one chicken on 35 acres.

To get your 1847 Sourdough Starter – please be patient, the folks who do this are volunteers – visit the Web site

Sourdough Recipe (no-knead)

MaryAnna Clemons
No-Knead Sourdough Bread

1 cup of active sourdough starter that has been allowed to reach room temperature (if you’ve removed it from the fridge) **
3 to 31/2 cups (depending on your altitude) bread flour – I use Baker’s & Chefs and/or King Arthur’s Flour
1 to 11/2 cups water (room temperature to lukewarm)
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt

Heat oven and baking receptacle (Dutch oven, stone, covered dish) to 450°F.

In large glass bowl, stir ingredients together with wooden spoon. You want it somewhat firm. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit in a 70-75 degree (or so) room for 12-18 hours.

Using well-greased fingers or spatula, pry sticky dough from sides of bowl onto lightly floured surface. Sprinkle with more flour and let dough rest for 15-20 minutes.

With floured hands and a bit more flour on the ball of dough, place back in glass bowl between floured cotton cloth, like a towel sandwich, until it doubles in size, usually 4 hours.

Pour dough from bowl to baking receptacle (I prefer a cast iron Dutch oven), and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until browned and you can “knock” on crust.

Before baking, I sometimes add a touch of olive oil and some herbs to crust, or just brush it with melted butter, for a fancier crust.

** You’ll have leftover starter; this is for next time. Feed it a fresh cup of flour and warm water, stir well and cover loosely. Keep in the refrigerator.

Nutty cereal bread

Jean Hill, of Valdosta, Georgia, is looking for a Grape-Nuts bread recipe. The cereal is soaked in milk while the rest of the ingredients are mixed, and it makes two loaves.

Donna Berberick, of Edwardsville, Kansas, sends this recipe from the collection.

Grape-Nuts Bread

1 cup Grape-Nuts cereal
2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
2 cups sugar
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

In large bowl, soak cereal in buttermilk for 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat 2 loaf pans with cooking spray; set aside.

In another bowl, beat eggs. Add eggs and sugar to cereal mixture.

In third large bowl, sift together all dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to wet mixture and stir until well-mixed.

Pour dough into prepared pans; bake 1 hour, or until toothpick or knife inserted into center of loaf comes out clean.

Yields 12 servings.

The best brown bread

Maureen Grover, of Lockwood, New York, remembers “the best brown bread” her grandmother used to bake in the 1950s, and she’d like a recipe.

Margaret Cantrell, of Moxee, Washington, sends this version.

Old-Fashioned Brown Bread

2 cups graham or whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk or sour milk
1/2 cup raisins (Margaret uses 8 ounces chopped dates)

Grease 3 No. 303 (16-17 ounces) cans. Combine all ingredients; mix well. Pour into prepared cans; let stand 30 minutes. Heat oven to 350°F.

Bake 45-50 minutes.

Marilyn, of Tucson, Arizona, sends this recipe, saying it was one of her aunt’s specialties.

Boston Brown Bread

FoodPix/Michael Weschler
Boston Brown Bread

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups All-Bran cereal
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups raisins
2 1/2 tablespoons molasses
2 cups buttermilk

In large bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking soda. Combine flour mixture, All-Bran, sugar and raisins.

In another bowl, combine molasses and buttermilk. Add to dry ingredients.

Meanwhile, heat large kettle of water. Grease or spray tin cans (my aunt used lard, and 15-ounce cans are good). Pour mixture into cans and top with wax paper.

Place cans in kettle and steam for approximately 21/2 hours – begin timing when water comes to a boil. Water should be a slow rolling boil.

Hard roll secrets

Gerald Davis, of Kennerdell, Pennsylvania, hopes someone has a recipe for Jewish hard rolls. He says he was able to purchase them when living in New York, but he hasn’t found a similar product since moving. The rolls were hard on the outside and soft on the inside.

Connie Moore, of Medway, Ohio, sends this recipe, saying it comes from her copy of Sunset Breads. She says it is easy and very good.

“Hard rolls with soft centers have three secrets,” Connie writes. “One, the liquid used in the dough should be water. Two, the rolls should be glazed before baking, and, three, a pan of water should be on the bottom rack, just underneath the pan of rolls.”

Crusty Water Rolls

1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 package active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 to 4 cups flour, divided
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 egg whites
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water

In large bowl, combine warm water, sugar and yeast. Let stand until bubbly. Add salt, 1 cup flour and oil; beat until smooth.

With electric mixer, beat egg whites until stiff. Fold into batter.

Beat in 2 more cups flour, making a stiff dough. Turn out onto floured board; knead until smooth. Add flour as needed to prevent sticking.

Place dough in greased bowl and turn it to grease top side. Cover; let rise until doubled. Punch down, cover, let rise 15 more minutes.

Punch down and divide into 18 pieces. Shape each into ball; dip bottom in cornmeal.

Place on greased baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Cover, let rise until double.

Heat oven to 400°F. Place pan of hot water on bottom rack of oven. Brush rolls with egg yolk mixture. Bake rolls on rack above water for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool completely.

Yields 18 rolls.

Note: Some recipes call for rolls to be glazed with a beaten egg white. Seeds such as poppy or sesame can be sprinkled on top.

These buns stick

Grit photo library
Warm, gooey pecan sticky buns are perfect on a weekend morning.

Charles Cigna, of Santa Clara, California, requests a recipe for easy-to-make pecan sticky buns.

Marion Tickner, of Syracuse, New York, writes, “I like to make (these sticky buns) in a cast-iron skillet, but any baking pan will do.”

Sticky Buns

2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 tube refrigerated biscuits

Heat oven to 425°F, or to temperature indicated on biscuit package.

In 8-inch cast-iron skillet, melt butter. Add brown sugar, syrup and nuts; mix well.

Break apart biscuits and carefully place on top of mixture in skillet. Bake 10-12 minutes.

Remove skillet from oven. Place plate, top side down, over buns and turn over skillet. Remove skillet. Syrup will harden as it cools. When cool, cut apart and enjoy.

Alice Johnson, of Port Wing, Wisconsin, sends another simple recipe, with a touch of butterscotch. She says, “Very tasty eating!”

Easy Overnight Pecan rolls

12 frozen dinner rolls (Alice uses Schwann Biscuits)
1 package (4 ounces) butterscotch pudding mix (not instant)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup margarine
Pecans, chopped

Grease 9-by-12-inch baking pan.

Place frozen rolls in pan. Sprinkle with dry pudding mix, brown sugar, margarine and pecans. Put into a cold oven overnight.

In morning, turn oven to 350°F, and bake for 20 minutes.

Important: Do not preheat oven; just set temperature and bake.

Sula McCurdy, of Franklin, North Carolina, writes, “I believe I have found the answer to Mr. Cigna’s request. This is the easiest recipe and takes very little time.”

Cinnamon Pecan Sticky Buns

1 jar (5 ounces) pecans with syrup
1 package (12.4 ounces) refrigerated cinnamon rolls
Heat oven to 350°F. Coat 8-inch round cake pan with cooking spray.

Spread pecans with syrup over bottom of pan. Top with rolls, cinnamon side down. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until golden. Cool 5 minutes. Invert onto serving plate.

Note: Walnuts can be substituted for pecans.

Pudding sensations

Marta Cuddeback, of Port Jervis, New York, has lost her recipe for Sensational Bread Pudding. It appeared in Grit maybe 30 years or so ago, and it had cherries in it for Washington’s Birthday.

B. Martin, of Cambridge, Ohio, sends a version that might be close.

Bread Pudding Monken
Delicious bread pudding makes a special treat.

1 loaf sandwich bread
4 cups milk
4 tablespoons sugar
2 or 3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 ounces raisins
8 to 12 cherries
Nutmeg, grated

Heat oven to 375°F. Butter 9-by-13-inch baking dish; set aside.

Trim crust from bread and cube slices. Place in large bowl. Pour milk over bread and allow to soak for 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in sugar, eggs, vanilla, raisins and cherries.

Place mixture in prepared dish and sprinkle nutmeg over top. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Chocolatey zucchini

Doris Bertolet, of Oley, Pennsylvania, is looking for a recipe for chocolate zucchini bread.

Rowena McDermott, of Phelan, California, sends this version.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups zucchini, grated (thawed and drained, if frozen)
3 eggs
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup oil, or, for low-fat, 1 1/2 cups applesauce
3/4 cup cocoa

Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, combine dry ingredients. Mix in all wet ingredients. Place dough in 2 loaf pans; bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Variation: Use 3 teaspoons cinnamon and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract in place of cocoa.

Helen Lamison, of Carnegie, Pennsylvania, sends another recipe.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

2 squares (1 ounce each) unsweetened chocolate
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups grated zucchini
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 2 (9-by-5-inch) loaf pans; set aside.

In microwave-safe bowl, microwave chocolate until melted. Stir occasionally until chocolate is smooth.

In large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, oil, zucchini, vanilla and chocolate; beat well. Stir in flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; mix well. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake 1 hour, or until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean.


  • Viola Larson, of Alexandria, Minnesota, hopes someone will send a recipe for rose hip jam.
  • Marge Swartfager, of Ankeny, Iowa, is looking for a recipe for cornstarch pudding. She says, “We had it frequently during the Depression years.”
  • Elayne Kelley, of Milwaukie, Oregon, is looking for an old-fashioned recipe for a stack cake that her grandmother used to make. It has skinny layers, she says, with dried fruit between layers.
  • Nancy Pike, of Mount Vernon, Ohio, is searching for a recipe from a 1960s Weight Watchers magazine for meat balls in aspic, or jellied meat balls. It contained yellow mustard in the aspic.
  • Ann Morgan, of Forsyth, Georgia, is looking for the Japinis Fruit Cake recipe. It’s an old recipe, she says, and her mother used to make it for Christmas every year.

If you’ve been looking for a long lost recipe, or can provide one, please write to Recipe Box, c/o Grit, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609 or email us at Please include your name, address and daytime phone. Recipes cannot be returned as they are eventually sent to the person requesting the recipe. Recipe requests and responses will be printed at our discretion and as space allows. Addresses are not printed to allow Grit the opportunity to publish recipes before sending them on to the requesting party.

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