Buttermilk Dinner Rolls and the Disappearing Case of Lornie Murphy….
"These ain't nothing but Sunbeam"
Of course I have a story..
A peculiar tale of a lady and her flaky dinner rolls. As well as her inexplicable disappearance.
Let's start at the beginning.
Back in the late spring of 2011 I joined a women's league at a local church. Every Wednesday at 7pm you could locate me sitting on a hard plastic orange chair in the fellowship hall of a church that I'd never attend on a Sunday.
Around 2 weeks into joining we had a potluck with everyone bringing in a "prize-winning" dish.
Just as I placed my potato salad on the table, I was hit with the strongest aroma of white diamonds perfume and spearmint .
Being 6 months pregnant at the time, you could say my sense of smell was at superhero levels. It was also the cause of much distress because everyone and thing smelled awful. Including spearmint.
The woman behind the strong aroma introduced herself as Lorine Murphy, a short round lady with dark rimmed glasses and gray hair that would shine of purple when she sat under the light..
"but you can call me Ms.Murphy"she quickly added, all the while sitting 2 baskets of these golden brown rolls with specks of salt gleaming like crystals on the tops..
Ms. Murphy it is then, I thought…
Ms. Murphy it is then, I thought…
I'd never seen her before and remember there being only 2 other ladies that she spoke to.
The potluck began and soon I was lost in a haze of chicken salad that only Duke's mayo could've made and dinner rolls.. 3,7, possibly 10 of those damn rolls..
Good Heavens how did she make them..
"they’re store bought"
"um hum, these ain't nothing but Sunbeam"
Said the haters in the seats to my left...
I wasn't convinced though, they had a taste that only homemade could produce, not packaged bread that's been sitting on a shelf.
Ms. Murphy kept to herself during the dinner, only speaking when spoken too..
She carried around a blue tote bag that read "Whitefield Co YMCA"…
Why would you come to an event and not talk to anyone? Was she a friend of one of these ladies, just being nice and attending because she was invited?
I have no idea... She left just as quietly as she came...
No one seemed to know who she was..
She just shows up every now and then, is what I was told..
That following Wednesday, much to my disappointment, Ms.Murphy did not show to the meeting.
So in the passing weeks, memories of buttermilk rolls and pregnancy heartburn kept me up at night and had my husband at just about every local bakery in Atlanta and one about and hour away in Conyers GA after a false tip sent us there on mission.
The month changed Ms. Murphy never showed and my stomach got bigger.
So as I shuffled my way into that fellowship hall for the next potluck, I almost cried when I saw a little blue bag leaning against the table..
It read "Whitefield Co YMCA"
My enthusiastic greeting was a bit much.. she told me to calm down or I'll go into labor and then walked away..
This was fine with me as I went about my way in a different direction with 3 rolls in my hand...
The potluck was a time to meet and get to know the other ladies in the group, some met at different times during the week but we would all come together to enjoy this meal.
You could hear the plastic chair creak as I sat beside Lornie Murphy on this particular day. She gave me a side eye but said nothing so I continued to sit down my things..
"How do you make these?" …was the first thing I said..I just couldn’t help myself..
"How far along are you?"... was her response
"Ummm... 7 months.. do you use buttermilk.. all-purpose flour?"
"this your first child" .. Ms. Murphy continued
"no my 2nd.. self rising flour" … I responded with determination.
"it's gonna be harder for you to lose that weight after the 2nd one".. she told me with her upper lip curled in disdain..
That was our conversation, right before she left just as quietly as she came..
Certainly I sat there with my mouth hanging open thinking what the hell just happened.
A month would go by, my stomach got bigger and the doctor changed my due date..
All of these things and the lack of Ms.Murphy or her dinner rolls to be honest, had me in a very bad mood with too much time on my hands..
Too much time, so much time that one day I sat in my car looking across the street at the house of one Ms.Lornie Murphy..
Of course the women's league has an address directory..
"This is insane"is what my husband told me from the drivers seat.. always the voice of reason.. well, I'd told him we were just going to the store..
"I just want to make sure she's ok", I said in return
"Erika..you don’t just go to a strangers house.." was his reaction.
"This is the south, there is no such thing as a stranger"
As I sat there with the AC on full blast to combat the June Georgia heat, while simultaneously trying to figure out how I would explain to this woman why I'm at her house, I came up short.
Then said to hell with it and walked up and rang the door bell.
When the door opened and a woman that was not Ms. Murphy greeted me with a confused look, I wondered how fast I could run to the car, then thought better and introduced myself.
All the while my husband is standing behind me apologizing..
"Well, Lornie left a few weeks ago.. sorry" said the strange woman at the door.
I remember asking where she went and when she would be back, decorum be damned.
Of course she didn’t tell me, which earned her the side-eye bitch resting face of all side eye bitch resting faces as I walked back to my car.
"She's hiding something". I said to my husband as he looked at me with a blank stare.
"I can't believe.. just get in the damn car" was his angry response..
Driving away I looked out the window, thinking how clean the inside of that house was.. everything so nice and neat as the lady explained that Ms. Murphy was long gone..
Everything nice and neat and in it's place, except for one little blue bag.
A blue bag that was leaning by the sofa that read "Whitefield Co YMCA"
Ms. Murphy's whereabouts are still unknown.. It’s been 3 years and still no sign of her. Even after an extensive Facebook search done by the queen of Facebook searches..
These buttermilk rolls are a close runner up to the heavenly dinner rolls she made but not quite the same. I've made them several times to appease my yearning for hot flaky rolls that have a sponge like texture with a tangy taste of citrus.. yes citrus.. they were amazing and so are these..
So I guess I didn’t need her recipe after all..
But I'd still like to have it..
Ms. Murphy.. if you're reading.
Buttermilk Dinner Rolls
Prep Time- 3 Hours Cook Time- 15-18 mins Yield- 16 dinner rolls
Adapted from The Bread Bible
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105 to 115 F)
1 cup warm buttermilk (105 to 115 F)
2 tablespoons honey
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, room temp
2 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
Egg Glaze: 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of cream (or milk) whisked together
Flaky sea salt for dusting
In a small bowl combine the yeast, honey, and warm water and stir to dissolve. Let stand until foamy. (about 10 mins)
In the bowl of an electric mixer (with paddle attachment), combine the buttermilk, zest, melted butter, egg, and salt. Stir in the yeast mixture along with 1 1/2 cups of the flour. Mix for about 3-4 minutes or until mixture is smooth.
Add remaining dough 1/2 a cup at a time mixing until a soft dough that just clears the sides of the bowl is formed.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and springs back when pressed about 4 to 7 minutes by hand. (3 to 4 minutes by mixer using the dough hook)
Place the kneaded dough into a lightly olive oil greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Then cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise at room temp until doubled in size. (about 1 to 1 1/2 hours)
Gently deflate the dough, turning it onto a lightly floured surface.
Grease or parchment paper 2 baking sheets (or grease a cast iron skillet which is what I like to bake my rolls in)
Divide the dough in half, then roll each half into a cylinder shape that's about 2-3 inches. Now cut the cylinders into 8 equal portions. (giving you 16 rolls).
Shape each piece into a small oval placing in pan. Cover again loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temp until doubled in size.(about 30 mins)
While bread is rising preheat oven to 375. Brush each roll with egg glaze and sprinkling each with flaky sea salt (like Maldon) if desired.
Place rolls in the oven for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve rolls while warm.
Take that Ms.Murphy…