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Sweet rolls from school days gone by

"City School Sweet Rolls" are from a school cafeteria's breakfast menu
"City School Sweet Rolls" are from a school cafeteria's breakfast menu

With many schools starting back this week and next, one thing I enjoy is hearing from older people about their school days. I am often told that one of the best things about their school was the food served in the cafeteria. Back many years ago, the cafeteria staff at virtually all the school systems actually cooked most all the food they served at lunchtime themselves. Unlike today, few things were ever "convenience" foods and most everything was made from scratch.

One of the items I hear many people remembering from their school days was the yeast rolls served at lunch. I well remember those, too. I once had the good fortune to watch a cafeteria worker make up a batch of the dough in a school cafeteria's kitchen. With all the work involved in making these great yeast rolls, it was no wonder they were so loved by students and teachers alike.

Schools later got into serving breakfast, which never happened while I was in school. However, the recipe I have for today is one that comes from a city school system that was served for breakfast. "City School Sweet Rolls" are much like a cinnamon roll, except these rolls are quite large! If you have a healthy appetite for breakfast, you could easily eat one of these with juice, milk or coffee and feel full and satisfied until lunch.

What makes these rolls interesting is that they have a filling made out of cake crumbs. This would be a great place to use leftover plain cake or pound cake that you want to get rid of. The first time I made these rolls, I had to bake a layer of cake to have the cake crumbs called for! Another item you can use would be sugar cookies or some plain cookie that may not be up to the best eating standard, but are still edible.

Notice in the recipe that it calls for bread flour and cake flour. This is correct in that it calls for both types of flour. I believe the cake flour is used to help tenderize the dough. You'll see also that there's only one rising period, which also explains why it calls for 4 envelopes of dry yeast. Again, this amount is correct. You'll also see the amount of nutmeg called for in the dough, which can be adjusted according to how much you like nutmeg.

While on the subject of yeast baking, last year I did a story for a yeast roll recipe that could be done very quickly, which was for "No Knead Speedy Pan Rolls." Here's the link in case you didn't get it the first time:

If you missed the good food served at your school cafeteria, enjoy this "retro recipe" in these excellent sweet rolls!


  • 4 envelopes dry yeast
  • 2 cups lukewarm milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 5 cups bread flour
  • 3/4 to 1-1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg (according to personal taste)
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

Cake Crumb Filling (recipe follows)
Powdered Sugar Glaze (recipe follows)

Dissolve yeast in lukewarm milk. Combine sugar, salt, shortening and egg in the bowl of electric mixer and mix 1 minute at low speed. Add the milk mixture and mix 1 minute. Add both flours and nutmeg. Mix only enough for flour to be well incorporated, not more than 5 minutes. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and roll out into a rectangular shape. Brush with the melted butter and sprinkle with the Cake Crumb Filling. Starting at a long side, roll up jellyroll fashion. Seal dough and slice into 1-1/2 inch slices. Place on greased baking sheets, cut side down, and pat out fairly flat. Cover and let rise to double in size. Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Let cool until warm, then brush with Powdered Sugar Glaze. Yield: about 1-1/2 dozen rolls.

Cake Crumb Filling:

  • 1 cup plain cake crumbs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine all ingredients and mix well.

Powdered Sugar Glaze:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix powdered sugar and hot water until smooth. Stir in vanilla.

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