Tag Archives: focaccia recipe

Cast Your Bread Upon the Waters by Sister Schubert

The down-home baker known simply as “Sister,” whose irresistible yeast rolls are legendary in the South, shares recipes and her inspiring story in her cookbook, Cast Your Bread Upon the Waters.

by Bakery Boy

I’ve been eating Sister Schubert’s Homemade Rolls for many years and for several reasons:

• Because they consistently taste terrific, from buttery to sweet to savory ends of the brown-and-serve spectrum.

• Because they’re as easy as picking up pans from the grocer’s freezer case and popping them in the oven for 20 minutes.

• Because Sister Schubert, a fine southern lady from the heart of Alabama, supports worthy charities through a foundation she created when her bread business grew from a home kitchen project into a nationwide juggernaut.

• And because I met her recently at a book signing and learned first-hand that she’s genuine “good people,” as we say down south without fretting the grammar.

THERE’S A BOOK? That there even was a book signing to attend, and thus a book, set off bells in my bakery-obsessed mind. I thought, if Sister Schubert has a cookbook out, I can make my own Parker House rolls, cinnamon rolls, buttermilk biscuits, orange rolls, and sausage wrap rolls, just like hers.

I got a copy of Cast Your Bread Upon the Waters—Recipes for Success, Cooking & Living, and sure enough recipes for some if not all my favorite Sister rolls are included, plus many more unrelated to her frozen-rolls empire. I baked several items before going to meet her, glad to add new recipes and techniques to my personal arsenal.

Even with her book in hand, I will continue picking up store-bought Sister Schubert pans. Partly because making any kind of bread at home is very time consuming. Partly because it’s just too easy, at the supermarket, to grab those green-striped packages with Sister’s smiling face on them and know that at least that part of tonight’s dinner is taken care of.

Everlasting Rolls based on her grandmother's launched Sister Schubert's empire.

SHE’S GOOD PEOPLE Patricia Schubert Barnes of Andalusia, Alabama—dubbed “Sister” as a child by a sibling—ranks as a food celebrity in her home state. Locally the story is well known about how she started baking Parker House-style rolls the way her grandmother, known as “Gommey,” taught her, first for family, then for church fundraisers where they were an instant sensation, and soon for the world.

“I went from baking in my kitchen with a little Sunbeam mixer, to expanding onto my sun porch, to taking over 1,000 square feet in a furniture warehouse my father owned, to renting a 25,000-square-foot building, to moving into a 100,000-square-foot building in just a few short years,” Sister says of the business she launched in 1986.

“At first I took a few pans with stick-on labels to a little curb market in Troy and small grocery stores in south Alabama, asking them to sell my rolls. Now they’re sold all across the country and we’re making them by the millions every day at three locations. Two are close to home, in Luverne and Saraland, Alabama. The other is in Horse Cave, Kentucky, where we’re putting in what will be the fourth largest oven in America. That’ll make a lot more Sister Schubert’s Homemade Rolls!”

Most importantly, she adds: “Even though we’ve grown, we’ve stayed true to our roots. Our rolls have the same home-baked quality and taste as my grandmother’s. We use simple, wholesome ingredients like fresh milk, butter and whole eggs—never any preservatives. And every single roll is still placed in the pan by hand.”

Sister Schubert's Focaccia (see recipe elsewhere on the Bakery Boy Blog)

“BRAND AMBASSADOR” Sister sold her company to a larger entity, Lancaster Colony Corporation of Columbus, Ohio, but she and her husband, George, remain involved in running the Sister Schubert division.

“My title now is Founder and Brand Ambassador,” she told me during her book signing at Birmingham Bake & Cook Company. “I do speaking engagements, appear on TV food shows, autograph books at kitchen supply shops and bookstores, and talk about Sister Schubert’s Homemade Rolls at every opportunity.

“When I’m home I develop new products. We’re getting into sea salt now, taking the gluten out for people allergic to it, switching to unsalted butter from the lightly salted butter we’ve been using, and things like that. It’s exciting, and it’s all going to be delicious.”

THE BOOK Cast Your Bread Upon the Waters, a good holiday gift idea for bakers and cooks, shares some of Sister Schubert’s best recipes. Her grandmother’s basic Everlasting Rolls (the Parker House rolls that started it all) come first, followed by variations with cheddar cheese, sausage, orange, or cinnamon.

She veers into non-baked items such as with smoked salmon crepes, cheesy shrimp and grits, artichoke crab dip, and chicken and sausage gumbo. But she quickly returns to her popular takes on cornbread, muffins, biscuits, scones, focaccia, challah, hot cross buns, something called tipsy eggnog bread, three kinds of pound cake, and more.

Find two excellent recipes—for corn muffins and focaccia—at two related posts here on the Bakery Boy Blog.

Sister Schubert's Country Corn Muffins (see recipe elsewhere on the Bakery Boy Blog)

Besides recipes and beautiful pictures, the book also shares Sister’s outlook on life, faith, family, and community. Bible quotes appear, from a favorite psalm (“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer”) to a verse from Corinthians (“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”).

Even the book’s title has biblical roots in Ecclesiastes: “Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again.”

THE FOUNDATION A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Cast Your Bread Upon the Waters goes to the Barnes Family Foundation, a charitable organization founded in 2001 by Sister and George. Its missions include:

• Feeding the hungry by funding food banks and shelters

• Sending college students to learn about other cultures through the Sister Schubert’s Annual Scholarship for Study Abroad operated by Auburn University School of Human Sciences

• Funding an orphanage called Sasha’s Home in the Ukraine (where the Barnes’s adopted their son Alexsey, or “Sasha” for short)

The foundation’s mission, Sister says, is “To show by what we do—that we are thankful for food in a hungry world, that we are thankful for friendship in a lonely world, but mostly, that we are thankful for the opportunity to help save and love all of God’s children in the world.”

Amen to that! And please pass the dinner rolls!

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Sister Schubert’s Homemade Rolls: 100 Crenshaw Parkway, P.O. Drawer 112, Luverne, AL 36049; www.sisterschuberts.com; 334-335-2232

To order a copy of Cast Your Bread Upon the Waters by Sister Schubert (© 2009 CECA Enterprises LLC; $40), visit castyourbreaduponthewaters.com. Sister Schubert provided a copy for this review.

For more about the Barnes Family Foundation, to which a portion of the proceeds from the sale of Cast Your Bread Upon the Waters goes, visit www.barnesfamilyfoundation.org.

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Two recipes from Sister Schubert’s book appear on the Bakery Boy Blog.

Country Corn Muffins

Click here for the Country Corn Muffins recipe

Focaccia

Click here for the Focaccia recipe

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RECIPE Focaccia from Cast Your Bread Upon the Waters by Sister Schubert

Click here to see a separate post about Sister Schubert and her cookbook.

Sister Schubert, aka Patricia Schubert Barnes, wrote Cast Your Bread Upon the Waters—Recipes for Success, Cooking & Living to share her popular recipes and to tell her family’s story. Here is her recipe for making focaccia, a type of bread that dates back to ancient Roman times.

Sister Schubert's Focaccia

Sister says: “This venerable bread deserves an introduction: In ancient Rome, panis focacius was a flat bread baked in the ashes of the fireplace in the center of the home. It was then, and is now, a savory bread with many uses. Focaccia is a great snack, a versatile appetizer and a good companion to many meals. Say “foe-cah-cha” and stand by for the compliments!”

Focaccia

¾ cup war water (110°F)

1 tablespoon sugar

1½ teaspoon dry active yeast

6 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon sea salt

Olive oil

Ideas for toppings: Coarse sea salt, fresh rosemary, freshly cracked black pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced red or yellow onion, sliced rip olives, grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.

Combine water, sugar and yeast in a small bowl; set aside for 10 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Combine 2 cups flour and 1 teaspoon sea salt in large bowl of mixer fitted with dough hook. Add yeast mixture and mix on medium-low speed for 5 minutes. Add remaining flour and continue mixing to form a very soft dough. Dough should hold together; if dough is too sticky, add a few tablespoons of flour and mix until consistency is correct.

Place dough in a well-oiled bowl; turn to coat top. Cover with a damp tea towel and allow to rise in a warm place (85°F), free from drafts, for 1½ hours or until doubled in bulk. Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil into a 10 x 15-inch rimmed baking pan. Transfer dough to the pan and gently stretch to cover the bottom of the pan. Dough may need to rest for a moment or two during this process. Try not to tear the dough.

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Cover dough loosely with a damp tea towel and allow to rise in a warm place for 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove towel and drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over surface of dough. Using your fingertips, indent the surface of the focaccia and add your choice of toppings, gently pressing them into the indentations.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until focaccia is golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Brush with additional olive oil if desired.

Yield: One 10 x 15-inch focaccia

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From Cast Your Bread Upon the Waters by Sister Schubert (© 2009 by CECA Enterprises LLC, $40). Excerpted with permission. Sister Schubert provided a copy for review.

For more about Sister Schubert’s Homemade Rolls or to order a copy of the book, contact Sister Schubert’s Homemade Rolls, 100 Crenshaw Parkway, P.O. Drawer 112, Luverne, AL 36049; www.sisterschuberts.com; 334-335-2232

Click here to see a separate post about Sister Schubert and her cookbook.

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