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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Mrs. Spracklin's Carrot Rolls



Mrs. Spracklin was my father's cousin.  We lived next door to each other and I guess, as a child, I saw her nearly every day of my life. I never called her anything other than "Mrs. Spracklin" which irritated my father.  He would always tell me to call her "Aunt Beth" because she was my cousin.  ("Aunt" being a term of respect towards an elder female cousin.)  I could never bring myself to call her "Aunt" and it wasn't because she wasn't a nice lady.  To me she was a tall imposing woman who knew what she was about and the "Mrs." title just seemed appropriate to my young mind.  

Mrs. Spracklin was a wonderful cook and I loved going next door to taste anything she happened to be cooking or baking at that time.  Every day she made a large dinner for her family and her dining room table was usually graced by her husband, two sons, two daughters-in-law, several grandchildren, and usually a couple of hired men who worked for the family's businesses.  I don't know if she ever sat down with them as she was always busy dishing up the meal. If my memory is correct Mrs. Spracklin started every dinner with soup, then continued with a main course and ended with a dessert.  No one ever went away from her table hungry.  

One of those grandchildren was Ilah, my cousin (actually 2nd cousin once removed).  She didn't live with her grandmother but ate dinner there with her family.  After dinner we'd walk back to school together and happily, some days she'd come out of her grandmother's house with a couple of huge carrot rolls generously spread with grape jelly. We'd eat those rolls on the way to school and it's a wonder we could stay awake for the afternoon session, we'd be so stuffed!  For years I had to have grape jelly whenever I had a carrot roll and even today whenever I make them, grape jelly still lingers in my mind. 

Oh, those wonderful carrot rolls.  They were so good!  I had the opportunity, one day, to be in Mrs. Spracklin's kitchen when she was making them.  I can distinctly remember her blending the carrots and telling me she got the recipe from the "Life and Health" magazine (which is now out of print).  I thought it funny to put carrots in rolls and I suppose that's why I remember that scene with such clarity.  Mrs. Spracklin lived well into her 90s and must have made thousands of these rolls over the years.  

Many years ago, I was so happy to find the recipe in an old church cookbook.  The original recipe says it yields 6 dozen which speaks to the size of her rolls because I make half the recipe and get about 5 dozen good sized rolls.  I make these in my stand mixer and half the recipe just fits in the bowl. The original recipe didn't have any measurement for the water and the flour was in pounds.  The directions were to "fill the blender half way up with water" and called for 6 pounds of flour and to "add enough flour to form a soft dough" but that's hard to translate into cups, especially for the water if your blender isn't the same size as mine.  So I did a little figuring and came up with these measurements.  If you don't have a stand mixer, mix them up in a large bowl and use your own "dough hooks" to knead them by hand. 

You may think 5 dozen rolls are too many for you to make but these freeze beautifully and with Christmas just around the corner it never hurts to have a few dinner rolls in the freezer to go along with holiday meals.  You'll be glad to have these waiting for your family or guests. 

Carrot Rolls
4 small carrots
4 cups hot water
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 egg, beaten
6 tablespoons oil   
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons sugar
10-11 cups flour (may use part whole wheat, if you must)


Carrot preparation.
Dice carrots and put in blender.  Pour hot water in blender and blend carrots until fine but not juiced. Let carrot mixture cool down to lukewarm and put in mixer bowl.  Add all remaining ingredients except flour. Add most of the flour and using dough hook mix  to a smooth elastic dough adding more flour when needed. (I used about 10 ½ cups.)  Mix about 10 minutes all together.  Place in greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap or clean tea towel and let rise until double.  Punch down and  form into rolls.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  If you wish, rub butter over rolls while hot. Makes 5 dozen.


After mixing and kneading dough, cover with a clean tea towel or plastic wrap.  I've used a plastic food cover that looks like a shower cap.  I buy them at one of the dollar stores.  The dough should double in bulk before forming into rolls.  I usually rise the dough in the oven that has been warmed for a few minutes. 

Form the dough in small balls.  I used two 9x13-inch pans and put 5 rolls across and 6 down.  This gave the rolls room to rise out and up.  Cover and let double before baking.  See the orange carrot flecks in the dough.  


Baked golden and crisp on the outside, soft and golden on the inside.  
If you wish, you may make these larger for sandwich rolls.  Mmmmm...



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