Simple Family Fare: Recipes From my Ancient Bread Files You Won’t Want to Miss.

Today, three recipes that fill perfectly that need for a homey morning “bread” recipe with aromas that transport everyone back to their grandmother’s kitchen. These are recipes that have delighted my own family for more years than I can remember. Do not fail to try at least one. (Of course once you do, you will try them all. There is always method to my madness.)

There are some recipes (and they are almost always foods that people eat frequently, but about which few people make considered judgments regarding quality), where you try and try different recipes for years, and then you just stop dead and go no further. Nowhere left to go. Perfection. The following recipe is for the world’s best waffles. Bar none. Fabulous. Easy. Make the batter the night before. Killer on the “make an impression” scale. In fact, in all my years of reading cookbooks by the hundreds, I have never made or tasted a better waffle than this. And in all my conversations with food lovers both amateur and professional, I have never heard anyone say that they have actually found a better waffle recipe than this. Everyone seems to stop looking the minute they find it. The recipe comes from that incomparable American legend, Marion Cunningham, in her wonderful, must-own The Breakfast Book. This wee little book is crammed full of some of the loveliest breakfast fare you will ever encounter, and I encourage you to check it out. It is probably out of print, but don’t let that deter you. Amazon always has classic cookbooks available, both used and unused, for unbelievably low prices.

Here is the recipe. You will love the fact that most of the work is done the night before, so all you have to do is add the eggs and baking soda in the AM, heat up the waffle iron, fry up some bacon, warm up some maple syrup, put a dish of nice room-temperature butter (nothing worse than cold butter on hot waffles or hotcakes) on the table, and you are in for the breakfast of a lifetime.  And, oh, that wonderful yeasty aroma!

Makes about 8 waffles



The Breakfast Book

1/2 cup warm water (lukewarm: about 100-115 degrees)
1 package dry yeast
2 cups milk, warmed (lukewarm, as above)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter – melted
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1/4 tsp. baking soda

Use a rather large mixing bowl – the batter will rise to double its original volume. Put the water in the mixing bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Allow to stand to dissolve for 5 minutes.

Add the milk, butter, salt, sugar and flour to the yeast mixture and beat until smooth and blended. (Marion says she often uses a hand rotary beater to get rid of the lumps – a whisk would also work). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to stand overnight at room temperature.

Just before cooking the waffles, beat in the eggs, add the baking soda, and stir until well blended. The batter will be very thin. Pour about 1/2 to 3/4 cup batter into a very hot waffle iron. Bake the waffles until they are golden and crisp.

Oh, my, this next recipe is such a jolt from the past! I so clearly, warmly and happily remember making these little round doughnuts (today the food re-namers would call them doughnut holes) for my darling little girls, who ooohed and aaahed over them as they swooped down on the warm pile of cinnamon heaven before them. These little gems are truly the stuff of which family memories are made. Plus, they are one helluva lot easier than doughnuts that you have to roll and cut out. You just drop spoonfuls of the easiest of doughs into some hot oil, drain them, and roll the little darlins in a lovely bath of cinnamon and sugar. This creates such a wonderful family moment that each of my daughters has her own particular happy story to tell about when I made them.

Note: Do try to use fresh nutmeg if at all possible. The nut is readily available now, even in “mega” grocery stores and will last indefinitely in your cupboard. All you need beyond that is a common microplane (if you don’t have one, you need to buy one).


1970’s Betty Crocker Cookbook

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

3 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. nutmeg or mace

1/4 cup salad oil

3/4 cup milk

1 egg

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon (ummm, It’s been a while since I made these, but I’m pretty sure that I pretty much doubled the cinnamon, since that’s what I almost always do with every recipe calling for cinnamon. Ahem, I am QUITE fond of cinnamon)

Heat fat or oil (3” to 4” deep) to 375° F in a deep fat fryer or kettle.  Measure flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg into bowl.  Add oil, milk, and egg; beat until smooth.

Drop batter by teaspoonfuls (too-large puffs will not cook through) into hot fat.  Fry 4 or 5 at a time about 3 minutes, or until golden brown on both sides.  Drain.

Stir together 1/2 cup sugar and the cinnamon. Roll warm puffs in sugar-cinnamon mixture.

OK, so, once again a recipe featuring cinnamon. No apologies. As you have probably figured out by now, I love the taste, the smell, and the romance of cinnamon, but only in a great recipe. The original recipe for this luscious loaf called for margarine, which instantly tells me the approximate hellish era from which it derived. Use butter, as directed, please. Margarine needs to be banished from the earth.

Makes 1 loaf


From my ancient, “unidentifiable source” files

1/2 cup butter

2 cups sifted flour

3 tsp. double-acting baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 cup milk

2 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

Melt butter. Cool. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together. Beat the eggs until they are thick and ivory-colored. Gradually add sugar and 1/4 cup of melted butter. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Blend well after each addition. Turn into a greased 9” x 5” x 3” pan.

Combine 1/3 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Sprinkle over batter. Pour the remaining butter over batter and cut through the batter several times to create swirls.

Bake at 375° F for 40 to 45 minutes, till golden brown. Cool thoroughly.

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