Nellie’s bran rolls

Photographer: Emma
Makes approx 16 rolls

This recipe was kindly shared with us by Jennifer, our Learning and Development Specialist here at Fisher & Paykel. Jennifer is American and so it is particularly appropriate that she in contributing to the blog over this Thanksgiving period. Jennifer is a fantastically passionate baker and is always keen to share her stories and cooking anecdotes, just as she has done with her beautiful story below.

“When I pause and think about the Thanksgivings I have shared, many images flash through my mind.  I can see my Grandmother’s dining room and living room filled with people and chairs, a college roommate’s mother’s house and a stunning hotel buffet, but the most frequent image is of my parents’ dining room table.  Every leaf has been put in the table and the absolute maximum number of chairs squeezed around it.  The table is set with good china, glasses and flatware and the table decorations my mother has thoughtfully arranged are barely noticeable, crowded in by dishes of food on every available flat surface.

For anyone who has seen thanksgiving meals portrayed in movies and television, you may think that it is a very food-centric holiday.  It is, just as it was when the American Indians shared their bounty with the pilgrims.  From the same movies and television, you might also think that it is filled with delicious and tasty food.  That is not always the case because it depends on the menu and the culinary skills of the preparers.  Turkey is the traditional meat and it is notoriously difficult to cook so that it acquires flavour and retains moisture.   The only turkeys I can honestly say I have enjoyed were either home-smoked or deep-fried.  What I enjoy much more are the side dishes, because they provide a range of flavours, colours and textures and are a much safer bet than the meat.  But I still have the vivid, acrid taste memory of the Thanksgiving when my mother made poisonous mashed potatoes, so even those dishes are approached with caution.

The one fail-safe plate on the dining room table for me is always the bread rolls, particularly if they are a basket of Nellie Simmons’s bran rolls as made by her grandson Jim, a close family friend.  Regardless of the remainder of meal, if I can get three or four of these, I will always say it was a delicious Thanksgiving meal.  They are moist, chewy and flavourful, and for anyone who loves such breads, they are delicious.

Thanksgiving is one of the best-loved holidays in the US, and for good reason.  Yes there are variations from year to year, but they usually affect only how certain dishes are prepared, the colour of the walls and some of the surrounding faces.  What stay the same is the warm feelings you have in your heart and tummy after spending several hours around a full table with people you care about and who care about you”.


1 cup Kellogg All Bran breakfast cereal
¾ cup sugar
2 tsp salt
1 cup solid vegetable shortening)
2 beaten eggs
2 yeast cakes
6 cups flour
melted butter for brushing on top


1. Pour 1 cup boiling water over All Bran, sugar, salt and Crisco. Cool
2. Add 2 beaten eggs. Dissolve yeast cakes in warm water. Add eggs and yeast to cooled mixture.
3. Add 6 cups of flour. Let rise-about 45-60 minutes. Work down. Can either store, tightly covered, in refrigerator (will keep about 4 days) or roll out.

When ready to use:
1. Preheat oven to 190 C.
2. Roll out dough on flour and shape into rolls. Grease pan. Let rolls rise about 15-20 minutes.
3. Brush with melted butter across the top and bake for about 20-25 minutes.