September 04, 2021

HERITAGE RECIPE: Hattie's Icebox Rolls

I could make this post one of my longest posts ever (don't worry, I won't). I found so much information online about the woman who submitted this recipe and I loved learning about her.

I marked her recipe at the beginning of this series as one of my "must make" recipes; however, it is an overnight recipe and I never remembered to start it the night before. This week, I planned ahead. This recipe is for "Hattie's Icebox Rolls". Iceboxes originated in 1802, and they functioned like a refrigerator--it was used for keeping food cold, only it used blocks of ice instead of electricity to do that.

This recipe for Hattie's Icebox Rolls was submitted to the Rockwood, Michigan Area Historical Society by Eva Pichan (1921-2020) in memory of her mother, Harriet "Hattie" Olmstead (1879-1972)

Eva grew up on her family's farm in Rockwood, Michigan. Eva was a "surprise" to her parents, who had two daughters (19 and 17 years old), so Eva grew up somewhat as an only child. Because of this, she loved to entertain herself by reading and looking through family books, photos, and letters--this developed into a lifelong interest in genealogy. You can read a LOT about her life on this Life Story page that I came across (like an obituary, but much more in-depth and about her life, rather than death). I also came across a video with lots of pictures of her! Here are just a few:

The reason I was drawn to this recipe was because of what Eva had written to go with it:

"These 'cloverleaf rolls' were our Sunday and special occasion treat from plain old 'homemade' bread when I was young in the 20's and 30's. One of Mom's very yummy treats from the Olmstead family farm on Woodruff Rd."

 Finally, I will get to the recipe (don't you just love the photo of her feeding the pig, though?).

As always with the heritage recipes, I am typing the recipe here exactly as it was written in the heritage cookbook. When making the recipe, I didn't use any modifications or substitutions. See my notes after the recipe. I retyped the "printer-friendly" recipe to include any clarifications from the original.

Here is a printer-friendly version!

Hattie's Icebox Rolls

1 c. boiling water
1/2 tsp. shortening
1 T. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt

Stir above ingredients together. When cool add 1 beaten egg. One yeast cake dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water and 1 teaspoon sugar. Add to other ingredients when adding egg. Four cups flour stirred in liquids; mix well. Set bowl in refrigerator overnight to raise. Grease muffin tins well. Using small amount of flour, form 3 walnut-size balls for each muffin tin. Allow to raise and bake 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned at 400 F. Remove from oven and brush lightly with butter.

My Notes:

I did buy a fresh yeast cake for this recipe. When the recipes call for it, I like to do that so that I don't substitute any ingredients. A package of dried yeast can be used instead, though.

The directions are pretty self-explanatory. Once all the wet ingredients are added per instructions, add four cups of flour and mix well. It didn't specify whether to cover the bowl, and I debated over this. I ended up placing plastic wrap very lightly over the bowl. It rose very well overnight.

I didn't know how many rolls this would make, but it made 12 in my case. For my fellow numbers nerds, I used 25 grams of dough per walnut-size ball, so each muffin tin held 75 grams of dough. And that worked out for an even dozen. (I used this tin first; if I had known how many rolls it would make, I would have used a different one.)

I wondered if I made them too big, because they rose quite a bit!

But when I pulled them from the oven, they were the perfect size. They looked AMAZING. I brushed butter over the tops like the recipe said to. I couldn't wait to try one, so I dug in while they were still hot.

The texture was the most perfect textured roll I've ever eaten. The outside had a nice crust and the inside was very fluffy.

Unfortunately, I found that they tasted kind of bland--I think they needed more salt. (My family agreed with me.) I really loved the texture of them, though, and I am going to try making them again--only I'll add more salt to the dough (hopefully that won't mess up the rising and all that--I'm not a baker!).

This was a very fun recipe to make--not just the rolls, but reading about Eva made me feel like I knew her--she sounded like a very sweet woman!


  1. Okay. I'm not a baker, but I MUST try these. My mouth is watering!

  2. When I was in 4-H as a girl in the 60’s, my cloverleaf rolls won a purple (the BEST) ribbon at County Fair! They were picked to go on to compete at the Nebraska State Fair. Of course I had to re-make them for the State Fair which was a couple weeks later. It was rainy and humid the day I made them and they didn’t raise very well and I received a white (the lowest) ribbon at State Fair. I don’t know that I’ve made cloverleaf rolls since. But this recipe looks pretty easy, so I might try it! Thanks for sharing these recipes Katie!

  3. Those look so good! I love the old black and white photos, especially their clothes and hairdos.

  4. Adding salt should be okay, as long as you don't let it come in direct contact with the yeast. Mix it into the flour before you add it, and I'll bet it will add just what you need.
    If you like rosemary or dill, you could add that as well--or plan for a flavored butter! (Honey!)


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