biscuits.gif (9102 bytes)Everyone likes these and they keep well in a cookie tin.  The recipe came from Grandma Rooney (Laura Larson Rooney)

Into a large bowl, put

6 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda (optional)
2 heaping teaspoons baking powder

Mix all together thoroughly, then add
1/2 box (1/2 lb) currants
1 lb oleomargarine (4 quarters)

Mix as you do pie crust, until all blended, then add
3 beaten eggs and about 1/4 cup milk to make consistency to roll out, but not too wet.

Chill (even overnight) and then roll out and cut cookies (not too thin). Use a cutter or small glass.rollgpin.gif (3270 bytes)

Bake on electric fry pan 275 or 300 degrees -- watch heat -- not to bake too fast. When brown on one side, turn and bake on other side.

HOT CROSS BUNShcrossbuns.jpg (22736 bytes)

My mother first made these the year my youngest son was born at Easter time, and they quickly became a favorite. The photo is big brother Tom (3 yrs old) resisting temptation.

1/2 cup warm water
2 pkgs. active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
3/4 cup mashed potatoes
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup light golden raisins
1/2 cup citron
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
4 1/2 cups sifted flour (about)

Measure the warm water into a mixing bowl. Add the yeast, stir to dissolve. Stir in the milk, potatoes, sugar, salt, butter, eggs, raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg, and about half the flour. Mix until smooth.

Add enough remaining flour to handle easily; mix by hand. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth. Let rise until double in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch down and divide in half. Shape each part into 16 buns. Place in 2 greased 9 inch round or square baking pans.

Let rise until double -- about 30 minutes. Brush with egg yolk mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool slightly; then make a cross on top of each bun with confectioner's sugar. Makes 32 buns.


Ma Larson (Sarah Jane Curtis Larson) always made this and each of her daughters kept up the tradition, although each varied the recipe a bit.  In 1986 Laura Byrne Klebosky took over the tradition for the next generation, and updated the recipe as some ingredients (such as fresh yeast) are no longer readily available in stores. Here are the versions as they evolved.

Ma's Christmas Bread

About 12 to 15 lbs. flour
1/2 lb. baker's yeast
1 lb. brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
3 lb. raisins
1 lb. currants
1 pkg. citron
1 whole box cinnamon (1 1/2 oz.)
3 eggs
Big handful of salt

Dissolve yeast in lukewarm potato water, be sure it's not too hot.

Add sugar, beaten eggs, salt, shortening to liquid, add warm milk to potato water to make at least 2 qts.

Warm flour, add raisins etc. then pour liquid into hole made in flour.   When well mixed shape into loaves and let rise once.

Johanna Larson Gallagher's Christmas Bread


4 cups flour
2 tablespoons salt
1 cup brown sugar
3 envelope packages of New Fleischman's yeast
4 tablespoons cinnamon
2 quarts liquid (water, part scalded milk or potato water) (I boil a large potato in the 2 qts. of water and mash it for potato water)
2 bars oleo (1/2 lb.)
3 lb. raisins
1 cup walnuts
1 pint size pkg. of fruit cake mix

Measure water into large mixing bowl, Cool to lukewarm.  Sprinkle or crumble in, the yeast.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  Stir until dissolved.

Add sugar, salt, cinnamon and shortening (oleo).  Mash the oleo with the other ingredients in the water.  Stir in 1/2 the flour, beat until smooth & elastic.   Add remaining flour with the raisins, walnuts, and fruit cake mix.

Work these last ingredients into the mixture and knead well by hand.  This is done by folding dough over toward you.  Then push down away from you with the heel of the hand, using a rolling motion.

Give dough a quarter turn, repeat until dough is smooth and elastic, and doesn't stick to bowl.  If dough sticks to the bowl badly, use a small amount of additional flour.  Cover lightly and let rise about 10 minutes, then form into loaves.

Laura Larson Rooney's Christmas BreadXmasbread.jpg (12436 bytes)

My mother, brother and family spent Thanksgivings with us when our children were young, and my mother would make the Christmas bread then.  She gave me the list of ingredients so I could have them in the house when she came. She always got up early the day after Thanksgiving and allowed the children to help her by opening the raisin boxes and throwing the raisins into the mix. By the time I got up the dough was in the pans rising. Here are two of the ingredients lists found in my cookbooks.:

Ingredients for Xmas Bread

12 to 15 lb. flour
1 box cinnamon
1lb. brown sugar (light)
3 eggs
potato water
3 lb. raisins - (Seedless, preferably)
1 lb. currants
1 pkg. citron

paper for wrapping

I'll bring the fresh yeast from Morristown.

This list found on a small scrap of paper, like a shopping list

15 lb. flour
Crisco or butter
3 eggs
1 box cinnamon
3 lb. raisins
1 lb. currants
1 glass citron
potatoes for potato water.
1 lb. brown sugar
handful salt
2 National fresh yeast


When the bread cooled she would wrap loaves to send around to other family members -- my sister in California, my Aunts Johanna, Matilda and Mary while they were alive.

Laura Byrne Klebosky's New, 15 Loaf Version

Laura Rooney had been baking bread most of  her life and did not use a recipe to make her usual 15 loaves of Christmas bread.  When my daughter Laura took on the task in 1986 my mother was too frail to knead the dough, but still vital enough to give guidance on how to knead it. However, after her Grandmother died, Laura realized the written information available to recreate the recipe was incomplete.  After several years of tasty but flat bread, she developed a recipe and technique that balanced the available lists with ingredients readily available today, and wrote down more technique information for those who haven't made bread before. 

12-15 pkgs rapid rise dry yeast
1 1/2 qts potato water
1/2 cup butter, softened
1lb dark brown sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1 Tbsp salt
1 3 oz box cinnamon
3 qts warm milk
12-15 lb flour (48-60 cups)
1 lb currants
3 lb raisins (1 dark, 2 golden)
1 8oz pkg citron
2 sticks of butter

1. Dissolve yeast in 1 qt warm (105-115 degree) water.  Add 3 Tbsp brown sugar.   Let sit 5 min. to proof the yeast.  If it doesn't foam, discard mixture and start again.

2.  Pour proofed yeast into very large bowl or turkey roaster pan.  Add brown sugar, 1/2 cup butter, eggs, salt, and cinnamon to yeast mixture.  Add enough warm milk to make liquid mixture equal 5 qts.

3.  Mix 1/2 the flour into the liquid mixture beating 200-300 strokes by hand.   After beating stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.  Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface.  Clean and grease the bowl/turkey pan and use it for the first rise of the dough.

4.  Knead the dough with your palms until indentations spring back after pressing dough with fingers (about 10 minutes).  (Avoid using knuckles to knead the dough, the sugars in the dough will cut.)  Shape dough into a ball.  Place it smooth side down in a greased bowl.  Turn it right sides up to grease all surfaces.  Cover with dry towel.  Place in a warm place, free from draft.  Let it rise until it doubles in bulk (approx.  1 1/2 to 2 hours).  To test, poke 2 fingers approx. 1/2" deep into dough.  Dough is ready if indentations stay.

5.  Grease bread pans well (approx. 15), especially all sides and upper edges.

6. Shake currants, raisins, and citron with 1 cup flour in a small plastic bag to separate and coat them.  Punch down the bread and turn out onto lightly floured surface.  Dump fruit on surface with dough.  Knead fruit into dough until evenly distributed.

7.  Pull off a loaf size portion.  Should 1/2 fill loaf pan.  Knead and shape into loaf.  Place smooth side down into greased loaf pan.  Then turn greased side up to grease all surfaces.  Cover with dry towel.  Let rise in warm place free from draft until double in bulk.

8.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.  Bread is done when tapping loaf pan produces hollow sound.  Remove bread from pans immediately and rub all surfaces with butter to keep crust softer.  (Using margarine will make loaves look burned.) 11220006.jpg (58241 bytes)

Family members still share Thanksgivings and the one popular activity on Friday after the big meal is to make the bread. Visiting siblings and cousins join in to help. Photo at right is of  Laura and cousins David, Kyle and Michael mixing in ingredients in 2002.  


Longview is the town in Washington state where my Aunt Johanna and Uncle Leo lived in the 1960's. One of their friends made this cake when my mother was visiting there and shared her recipe. It's easy to make and delicious to eat.


4 cups diced apples
2 cups sugar
1 cup chopped nuts

Add to above:

cup oil or shortening
2 eggs, well beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla

Then add:

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt

Bake one hour at 350 in 9 by 13 pan.



These were a favorite Christmastime cookie. They require no cooking and so the children could make them. They were also the only Christmas cookie that Charlie and his mother could enjoy once they learned they each had a cholesterol problem. It became a tradition for Laura Byrne to make these as her Christmas present to her father and to her grandmother.


2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs, rolled fine
1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup confectioneers' sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
2 tablespoons white corn syrup
1/2 cup rum

Mix well. Shape into balls. Roll in confectioneers' sugar.
Store tightly covered.



My memories of this are that it was delicious but the casserole dish was always filled to the brim and spilled over into the oven. My mother didn't seem to mind.

1 qt. Milk
3 1/2 tablespoons rice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar or to taste
dash of nutmeg

Put in oven in casserole -- 300
As crust forms on top, turn under (about 3 times).
Will be done when rice is soft.


25 tomatoes (scald & peel)        1 pint vinegar
 6 green peppers                        1 tbsp mixed spices
12 onions                                  1 tbsp black pepper
 1 tbsp cinnamon                       1 tbsp salt
 4 cups sugar                             1 cup chopped celery

Cook 2 hrs, then can.  Makes 4 qts.
(reduce sugar)