Monday, April 8, 2013

Book Review and Aunt Sarah's Bread

For the record, I don't have an Aunt Sarah.  Never did.  To the best of my knowledge, the name hasn't even existed in my family in at least a century.

No, the name comes from a free book I got midweek last week, on a lark, from Kindle.  So, first a review, and then the bread.

By Edith Thomas

Mary, a 19 year old orphan from Philadelphia, wrote to her Aunt Sarah and Uncle John, requesting that she be allowed to come spend time with them at their Bucks County Farm and learn how to run a household.  Aunt Sarah, correctly guessing that Mary is planning to wed, invites her to come immediately, and so begins the story.  Among other things, Mary wants to learn to cook well, admiring Aunt Sarah's book of recipes, handwritten and interspersed with poems.  The book is a gentle story, set about 100 years ago, without any drama, involving Mary learning how to do things around the house, including quilting, making rag rugs, and making a house comfortable and bright.  There is a minor amount of interesting conversation about women's suffrage, and the advantages thereto, but it is minor.  The story of Mary's time on the farm is only about 1/3 of the book; the balance is the recipes she acquired.  This makes me believe that this book is at least somewhat biographical, maybe even autobiographical.

I scanned the recipes, and many are adaptable to today's cooking.  Of course, I got a wild notion to try one of the bread recipes on Friday, since I was making Sloppy Joes.  So, here are both the original and adapted recipes:


1 quart potato water
1 mashed potato
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup yeast
1/2 tbsp salt
3 quarts flour, to stiffen

OK, that's a lot of ingredients.  Here's my scaled down version, which made 16 rolls:

1-1/2 cups water from boiling one small potato
1/4 to 1/2 cup mashed potato (the small one)
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp yeast
1 tsp salt
3-1/2 to 4 cups flour

While the water is still warm, pour it into your mixing bowl or bread machine bucket; sprinkle the yeast over it.  Add the flour, potato, sugar, salt, and butter, cut into small pieces.  Stir and knead until smooth; let rise for 15 minutes, punch down and form into 16 rolls (or 2 loaves bread).  Let rise until doubled in size, then bake at 375F (or 350F in the convection oven) for 13 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned.

These rolls were pretty good.  How good?  Well, there were only 5 of us home.  And this is how many rolls were left after dinner:

That's right. One.  I think these will be requested again.


SissySees said...

I'm giggling... when *YOU* have to scale down a recipe, that's saying something.

Sue said...

So, will that book reside with the cook books or the novels?

Faye Lewis said...

Marjie I think you have been in every other SAL that I've hosted - and I THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT. You are always there for me. I do understand how our busy lives keep us away from our machines from time to time. You may have had to miss this one, but there will be others.

Anonymous said...

I happen to have a great fondness for books without excess drama; I find them a welcome diversion, particularly around tax time. A potato roll sounds pretty darned diverting, too.

Blond Duck said...

Did you put the Sloppy Jo recipe on them? That sounds heavenly!

Pam said...

The book sounds like an interesting read. I bet the recipes were a lot of fun to look through. The rolls look delicious.

grace said...

i'm surprised even one was left--this is a great recipe! i love potato in breads, and i also like that you scaled down everything except the butter and sugar. :)