Dinner Rolls and Civil War Romance
Rolls are big tradition in my family. I have my great-grandmother’s overnight roll recipe and another family recipe for sweet rolls. In fact, rolls are the first thing I remember baking with my Grandma. She passed away on March 18th so these memories have become even more special and precious. I remember sitting on the kitchen counter and cutting out the rolls with a round cookie cutter … later when I was older she taught me how to mold the rolls into balls by hand. We set them on the buttered tray, put melted butter over the top, draped a flour sack towel over the tray and waited for them to rise.
Rolls were the perfect addition to any meal and often were a meal by themselves. While everyone else in the family went for the homemade and apricot jam I smothered my rolls with honey just like Grandpa. Sometimes I wonder if I missed out on all that good jam, but now I can’t break the honey habit. I guess my tummy was happy so that was all that mattered.
At our big family gatherings like Thanksgiving and Christmas many people would ask for seconds and thirds on the rolls. We’d keep a pan in the oven so they’d remain warm. Yes, those are happy memories. The dinner roll recipe I wish to share with you is not in my family recipe box, but it is yummy, too. I had to do a little culinary research when writing Soldier in Her Lap. My Civil War era romance mainly takes place on a dirt farm in Georgia. Towards the end of the war there wasn’t much to eat in the South and people had to get by with very little. Thus my simple dinner roll recipe… don’t worry it is modernized for your convenience. 😉
Simple Dinner Rolls
1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 tablespoon instant yeast
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
4 cups all-purpose flour, lightly spooned into measuring cup, then leveled off
In a large bowl, stir together warm water, yeast, and sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 5 minutes.
To the yeast mixture, add the oil, salt, and 2 cups of the flour – incorporate the flour to create a wet, sticky mixture. Add 1 cup of the remaining flour and incorporate. Once mixed, add the remaining 1 cup flour. It takes a lot muscle to mix rolls by hand! Mix the dough to incorporate remaining flour. Knead dough until smooth and elastic. Lightly oil a large bowl and place the dough in the bowl – turn to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 20 -30 minutes.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently deflate into a rectangle. Cut it in half vertically, then each half vertically again into thirds so you have 6 equal strips of dough. Cut each strip of dough into fourths by cutting horizontally to make 24 little squares of dough. Take each piece of dough and cup it lightly under the palm of your hand on a clean surface. Press lightly and start rotating and rolling the dough ball quickly so that it forms a nice little ball of dough. Once you get some practice, you can do this with both hands at the same time and really speed up the process.
Place each rolled piece of dough into a lightly greased 9×13 baking pan in rows of 4 about 1/2-inch apart. Cover the rolls in the pan with a lightly greased piece of plastic wrap and let rise to double while your oven is preheating to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) – about 20 minutes. If you want an even more golden color to the rolls, brush them with a little melted butter before baking. Bake for 13-15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown. Serve warm and enjoy!
Tip: If you prefer your rolls sweet you can double the amount of sugar in the recipe.
Trapped by her alcoholic, abusive father, Sophia Carpenter longs to escape her life of drudgery on her father’s dirt farm in Clark Springs, Georgia. Making matters worse, her father’s scared off every man who tried to call on her. She longs for freedom, but with the Civil War raging, even fewer men are available to fulfill her dreams—unless a soldier landed in her lap.
Conscripted into a war he never wanted to fight, Lucas Grady is tired of battle and refuses to lay his life down for a lost cause. After a musket ball tears through his leg, he deserts from the ambulance wagon rather than risk a field surgeon’s saw. He barely makes it to Sophia’s farm before collapsing.
The wounded soldier’s arrival seems like a dream come true, but first she must save him from his injuries—and her father. As forbidden attraction blooms between them, they will have to struggle to survive. Can their love overcome so many obstacles or will they become another casualty of the War Between the States?
Excitement threaded through her. Was she finally getting a man? A handsome, caring and courageous man at that. God had outdone himself when he’d answered her prayer.
“We have to keep this from Papa,” she said, her eyes widening. Mr. Grady hadn’t taken the musket with him to the barn. Her old man could come out here and shoot him at any time.
“We can for now. If that is what you wish, Miss Carpenter.”
Sophia exhaled. “That is what I want.” She shifted her weight. If they were going to court they needed to know more about each other. One question had been plaguing her since the evening she’d sewn up his leg. “I’d like to know about the battle.”
His eyebrows knitted together and he tipped his upper body back. “What would you like to know? War isn’t a ladylike subject.”
She didn’t care whether it was proper or not. Papa had never treated her like a lady. “How did you get shot?”
“Charging the Yankees,” he replied, a playful undertone to his voice.
He wasn’t much of a talker. She’d learned that very quickly. But she wanted a better answer than that. Maybe she should start with a more direct question. “What regiment are you from?”
“The 4th Georgia Infantry.”
Good. She could work off that. “So you’re from Georgia then?”
“No, ma’am. Tennessee. But I transferred to this regiment.”
“Oh. All right, but why did you end up on my doorstep instead of with your regiment?”
“Not much left of my regiment, ma’am,” he replied curtly. Color drained from his face, his eyes taking on a haunted look.
She swallowed hard. She didn’t need to bring it up the difficult subject now. They’d talk more about this later, when he was ready.
“I understand,” she whispered. “I’m sorry.”
“One good thing came out of that battle,” he said, his gaze lifting to hers. “I met you.”
Her heart flipped. Yes, she was Cinderella, and he was the nobleman coming to her rescue. Talk like that would charm her silly. She already had a hard time keeping him off her mind. She’d pause in the middle of working in the garden and glance over at the barn.
One thing continued to bother her though. He seemed to be holding something back. Why hide something unless you were ashamed or worried or afraid? Maybe all three. Except Mr. Grady didn’t seem the type of man to do something wrong. He acted the perfect gentleman. “Mr. Grady seeing as how we’re courting I think it would be all right if you called me Sophia.”
Mr. Grady grinned; his eyes no longer looked haunted. “In private of course, Sophia,” he said. “And you may call me Lucas.”
“I look forward to getting to know you better, Lucas.” She had so many questions. Hopefully their next conversation went smoother. This one had been as bumpy as a toad’s back.
When the clock struck twelve would her dream come true or fade away?
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Haley Whitehall lives in Washington State where she enjoys all four seasons and the surrounding wildlife. She writes historical romance set in the 19th century U.S. When she is not researching or writing, she plays with her cats, watches the Western and History Channels, and goes antiquing. She is hoping to build a time machine so she can go in search of her prince charming. A good book, a cup of coffee, and a view of the mountains make her happy.
Haley loves to connect with readers. You can find her here:
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