Many families have a stoic Grandma in their family tree. Mine was a hard working farmer's wife who made the most glorious food. The most beloved of her creations were her buns. She would make them by the dozen and always had a pile in her freezer, along with cookies in ice cream buckets and other wonderful surprises. There was a running joke in my family that she was going to make the buns served at her own funeral....she may well have done just that, I can't remember. She had no Kitchen-aid, I don't think she even had a microwave (in fact the only electrical appliance I remember her using was a toaster), and worked out of a kitchen that by today's standards would be considered an immediate "gut job". In order to keep her gas oven closed, she had to lean a chair up against it. She made homemade bread and buns so frequently that even as a senior citizen the nurses would comment on how firm her muscles were. She was strong in more important ways too. She buried both her daughters who died of cancer, she could make a dollar stretch farther than most (have you ever seen anyone use empty flour bags for garbage bags?) and was loved and admired by all who knew her.
After she died, I found out that she had once told her son (my uncle) that her life had amounted to nothing and she hadn't left anything behind for the world to remember her by. I think about that so often, and assume there have been many women through history who may have felt the same way. With no professional career and living in humble circumstances in a small farm town, I can see why she mistakenly felt like that. But how do you measure the influence she had on her children and grandchildren? I am a different person because I was nurtured, oh so gently by her. You can't quantify that kind of power. A friend wrote to me once and shared a tribute that I have relied on as a guiding principle in motherhood. I mention in in this post. She deserves a few dozen posts on this blog.
At any rate, I am asked for this recipe all the time and I think it has single-handedly secured me a favoured position in the Aulenbach family I married into. I have a stack of buns in the freezer right now for my nephew Nathan's wedding.
So here you go, from my hearth to yours:
In a small saucepan mix:
6 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 cup margarine
1 and 1/3 cup water
Melt these ingredients and bring to a boil. Pour into a large mixing bowl (or electric mixer) and add 1 cup cold water. Cool to lukewarm.
2 beaten eggs
3 cups of flour and mix to incorporate.
Mix 2 tablespoons of instant yeast with one cup of flour and throw that in too. Mix well
Add 2 more cups of flour and knead very well. Dough will be very sticky. Resist the urge to add more flour.
Let it rise till doubled in size. Shape into buns. Let those rise till doubled in size. Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes till the tops are golden brown. Brush with butter when they emerge.
Note: I usually double this recipe, as I have a lot of mouths to feed.
I can't be held liable if you develop an addiction to these.
PS-these make amazing turkey buns on Boxing Day and I also turn them into cinnamon buns or orange sticky buns on occasion.