May 01, 2021


Well, I am pretty sure I messed up this recipe. I debated even posting this, but these were a lot of work. And honestly, they tasted good--I just think I did something wrong because they didn't rise like you would expect of a yeast bread.

This recipe looked interesting to me because of the note on the bottom: "Important: Serve buns with sliced bologna." I'm used to seeing things like, "serve with rice", or "serve over pasta" or thing like that. The bologna was pretty specific and atypical, so I was intrigued!

(As I do with all of the heritage recipes, I typed out the recipe and followed the instructions exactly as-written. Make sure you see my notes after the recipe.)

This recipe was submitted to the Rockwood, Michigan Area Historical Society by Marcella Rapai--it was passed down from her mother, Dora Gaynier, who got it from her mother, Stella Bodenmiller. Stella was born in 1875 and passed away at age 87. She had ELEVEN children; also, 41 grandchildren, 74 great-grandchildren, and 8 great-great-grandchildren at the time she died. I feel like I did a great disservice by messing up this recipe! Haha.

Here is a printer-friendly version!

Sweet Buns

1 c. milk, scalded and cooled
1 cake yeast
1 T. sugar
1/2 c. mashed potatoes
4-1/2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. shortening
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg

Add yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar to cooled milk. Mix mashed potatoes and 2 cups flour to yeast mixture. Cover and let rise 1/2 hour in a warm place. Blend salt, sugar, shortening and egg. Then add to the yeast mixture and the remaining 2-1/2 cups flour. Knead. Let rise in a warm place, covered, for 2 hours. Grease a cookie sheet and form the dough into 2 or 2-1/2 inch balls and slightly flatten. Let rise again for 1-1/2 hours in warm place. Before baking, rub top of bun with milk and sprinkle a little sugar on top. Bake at 400 F about 20 minutes or until brown. When baked, size will be of a nice hamburger bun. Important: Serve buns with sliced bologna.

My notes:

First, I'd never used scalded milk before, so I had to look that up. In older recipes, before milk was pasteurized, scalding the milk (cooking on the stove until it just starts to steam) killed bacteria. This is likely the reason for the above recipe calling for scalded milk. However, I also read this:

"In bread making, scalding the milk serves a more scientific purpose. The whey protein in milk can weaken gluten and prevent the dough from rising properly. Scalding the milk deactivates the protein so this doesn’t happen." (source)

I scalded the milk and let it cool--it was about room temperature, maybe a little warmer, when I moved on with the recipe.

I'd heard of a cake of yeast before, I didn't know how much yeast that meant. When I googled it, I found that a "cake" was the same as a packet (2-1/4 teaspoons).

For the mashed potatoes, I wasn't sure if I should use just potatoes (cooked and mashed) or "mashed potatoes" (meaning with milk, butter, and salt). After cooking the potatoes and mashing them, I realized that I would have to add something because they were really dry and crumbly. I just mixed in enough milk and butter to make them look like typical mashed potatoes. I let those cool in the fridge.

The other ingredients are self-explanatory.

I've made bread plenty of times, so I know what dough looks like when it rises... and this just wasn't happening. It said to let it rise in a "warm place", and my house wasn't exactly warm (I didn't have the heat on, and the temp was about 64 degrees). It's also possible that I didn't give it enough time to rise--but I'm almost positive I did. I set the stove timer each time I did one of the steps, but I forgot to set it for the last part. Still, the dough didn't really change size at all.

Per the recipe, I rubbed a little milk on them and sprinkled with sugar before baking. When I pulled them out of the oven, the tops didn't really brown, but the bottom looked burned. I was SO bummed! I should have done two batches so that if I burned the first, I could try to salvage the second.

Because the dough didn't rise, the buns came out only slightly bigger than when they went into the oven... but nowhere near the size of a "nice hamburger bun". They were much denser than I expected, too.

When I tasted one, however, it was delicious! I even ate the burned bottom and it wasn't bad--I think it looked worse than it was because the sugar I'd sprinkled had caramelized on the bottom of the pan.

Anyway, I still wanted to try them with bologna. I wasn't sure if I should use cold bologna or if I should fry it (I've never had fried bologna, but I know that people eat it that way). I tasted it both ways, and I think the fried bologna is better. (The only way I ever ate bologna as a kid was spread with ketchup and rolled up--I would exclaim how gross that sounds, but honestly, it's kind of nostalgic! Haha.) The buns were much smaller than the slices of bologna, so I cut the bologna into quarters and layered it on the buns.

I can definitely see why the recipes says to serve with bologna--it was really good! The saltiness of the bologna went perfectly with the sweet buns. I didn't add any condiments or anything--just the bologna on the (sliced) bun. Maybe it's because the buns were so dense, but these were SUPER filling. They were the size of sliders, and I'd planned to eat three, but I could only finish two.

I'm going to try to make these buns again and see if I can get them to rise how they are supposed to. I read a little about how bread recipes with a lot of sugar need more yeast--so maybe I'll try adding more yeast. But still, if this recipe has been around for 150 years, I imagine it's probably already perfected. I may have just messed something up and didn't realize it.

If any of you make the recipe, please let me know how it turned out and if the dough rose like it was supposed to!


  1. I am by no means a bread expert but I think your house was too cool for these to rise.

    Try warming your oven next time? Expert guidance here:

  2. Just an FYI, depending on the type of yeast you use you'd need to let it rise way longer than with fresh (i.e., "cake") yeast, especially if you use active dry yeast. Worth looking into for your next attempt!
    Love this series, though. I adore seeing old recipes! Thank you!


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