Barbra Katz Rosenberg from Baltimore, a frequent contributor to this column, was seeking the recipe for the sticky buns that were served in the cafeterias at many Baltimore City schools back in the '60s. She said before her family moved to Baltimore County, her lunch would consist of one of the sticky buns, a hard pretzel and orange juice five days a week. "I didn't know about carbs way back then," she said. She would really like to be able to taste the sticky buns again.
I received several responses from readers who offered recipes that they thought made reasonable copies of the popular school-system sticky bun from years back. One recipe even ran in The Baltimore Sun food section in 1987 as "Almost Forest Park's Sticky Buns."
After reading through all of the recipes, I decided to work with the one I received from Amy Kriston of Baltimore. She said she came across it on the Pimlico Junior High School Facebook page, posted there by Glenna Frank Ross. Kriston said she has never tried the recipe herself, but one of the Facebook group members commented that they tasted just as she remembered from her school days.
These are neither quick nor particularly easy to make, and while I can't say I remember eating one of these famous cafeteria buns when I was growing up in Baltimore, I can say that these were probably the best sticky buns I had ever tasted. Perhaps it had to do with the labor involved in making them and the long wait while the dough went through two rises, coupled with the smell of cinnamon and brown sugar permeating the house as the buns baked.
The first bite into that gooey, warm goody right out of the oven was pure heaven. Fortunately, these decedent delights are on the small side — not like the over-the-top, store-bought version — because I dare you to eat just one.
Linda Wessels from Glen Burnie is seeking the recipe for the spaghetti sauce that was served at Enses, a family-owned restaurant that was located at Richie Highway and Burwood Avenue in Glen Burnie in the 1960s. She said their spaghetti sauce has never been duplicated elsewhere, and she has been searching for the recipe for 40-plus years.
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Baltimore City school sticky buns
(adapted from a recipe for Forest Park High School famous sticky buns that was posted on the Pimlico Junior High School Facebook page)
Makes: 16 Buns
1/4 cup warm (105 to 115 degrees) water
1 1/4-ounce package active dry yeast
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons solid shortening
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
In an electric mixer, combine warm water, yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar. Stir to dissolve and let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.
Scald 1 cup milk then add 1/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons shortening and 1 teaspoon salt; stir to blend and melt shortening. Allow to cool to room temperature, then add to yeast mixture along with the beaten egg and 11/2 cups of flour. Mix on low speed until blended. Switch to a dough hook and then, again on low speed, slowly incorporate the remaining flour. Increase speed to medium, kneading dough until smooth and slightly sticky (add a little more flour if too wet), 3 to 5 minutes. If you do not have a dough hook for your mixer, add remaining flour on low speed then increase speed to medium and mix until all flour is incorporated. Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead by hand for 5 minutes.
Shape the dough into a ball and place in a large, greased bowl. Cover the bowl with towel or plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until it doubles in volume, about 1 hour (or 2 hours if not in an entirely warm place). After the dough has risen, punch down. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and let sit 20 minutes.
In a small bowl, Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons cinnamon and set aside.
Roll dough out into a 12-by-18-inch rectangle. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Starting with the long side, roll dough into a cylinder. Place seam-side down on a flat surface and cut crosswise into 16 slices.
For the topping, combine brown sugar and butter over low heat in a 1-quart saucepan; stir until sugar and butter are melted.
Pour mixture into a greased 9-by-13-inch pan and sprinkle pecans on top.
Place dough slices, flat-side down, on top of prepared topping. Crowd them so they touch. Let rise for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Bake buns until golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove pan from oven and immediately invert onto a serving tray or baking dish. Let buns cool slightly and serve warm if possible.