Mrs Decker's famous buns!

Students through the years left SDHS with many happy memories … and Mrs Decker's recipe for dinner rolls!

Every war is a lifestyle earthquake.  The way people live their everyday lives and the way they see the world is irrevocably altered.  The”Great” War changed the role of women in society and in the workplace.  The corset was among the first casualties of war, and the least mourned. Necessity forced great strides in medicine, technology and transportation.  WWII continued to give technology and innovation a mighty push. Most of the advances in technology, cryptography, radar, battlefield communications - were due to military operations during World War II, and it was, in fact, government activities that led to the development of the Internet, which we all know, has changed just about every aspect of our lives. Women, now voting, were back in the workplace. Girdles, consequently, were a casualty of WWII. Although before the war, de rigueur, (the elder matrons even in the early fifties expressed shock and disgust when younger women appeared in church, “obviously not wearing a girdle!”), the girdle finally wobbled, unsung, into history.  The Viet Nam war, the first televised war, spawned extraordinary protest, and a movement to Ban the Bra!  War does seem to be, bit by bit, eliminating women’s undergarments. 

This war we’re currently fighting against CoVid19 will, no doubt, permanently change the way we see the world.  We will look back and chuckle about the hysteria – the toilet paper scuffles, the initial assumption that we would need bottled water and batteries – as though the virus threatened the water and power supplies.  Folks were apparently defaulting to hurricane or blizzard mode.  This was something new and we had trouble adjusting. Our normal response to disaster has always been to huddle with friends and family and ride out the storm. We had to unlearn that natural urge and learn ‘social isolation’. 

Those who were adults during the depression never saw a piece of string or brown wrapping paper without thinking that perhaps it should be saved, “just in case”. As a result of this experience, our generation may never again take a chit chat with a fellow shopper about the weather, or a friendly hug, entirely for granted again. 

Ironically, social media, which had been much maligned as a blight on social interaction, has become a lifeline.  We depend on it for laughs, and visits, and local news. We learn how to manage an app that facilitates online grocery shopping, and find out about modified store hours and what’s up in the neighbourhood. We visit elders after they have, at last, figured out FaceTime. We can’t touch, but we are determined to find a way to stay in touch. 

And somehow this bunker mentality has caused many to hanker back to simpler times.  There is such a resurgence in jigsaw puzzling that puzzle ‘swap and drops’ are springing up everywhere. And bread!  People, stuck at home with time on their hands, are determined, finally, to figure out how to make bread, which has even resulted in a temporary shortage of flour locally!  (Let’s not forget Cook’s Corner which was well stocked with flours the last time I looked!). 

Disasters do seem to call for carbs! So, bread:

Basically, there are two types of dough: lean and rich. Lean is flour, water, salt and yeast. Think pizza dough, and crusty baguettes. Rich dough adds oils and eggs and such. Think brioche, and soft, squishy dinner rolls – like the recipe below. 

The first step is to overcome the fear of yeast. Next, check its ‘best before’ date.  If it’s been around since the last time you got the urge, it’s probably long dead and needs to be replaced. Warm water is good for dissolving yeast, but cool is better than too warm.  Beyond that, yeast is actually very reliable and predictable. 

For many Seaway grads, “comfort” is Mrs. Decker’s Lovely Two-hour No-knead Buns – the basis of her famous Cinnamon Rolls.  This dough recipe is highly adaptable to loaf bread (two loaves) and buns (16 large) or whatever you have in mind.  I recently opted for eight very large rolls or 12 dinner size, and 12 cinnamon buns with one recipe. Though the recipe is easily halved. 


3 cups warm water

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 teaspoons salt

7-8 cups flour (not specified) to make a workable batter

2 tablespoons dry yeast 

2 eggs

6 tablespoons oil (not specified)


Mix dry yeast and 4 cups of the flour. Add sugar and salt. 

Mix beaten eggs, oil and water. Add to dry ingredients. 

Add the remaining flour. 

Let rise 15 minutes. 

Punch down.

Form into rolls, bread or whatever you’re making. 

Let rise one hour. Not more. You can overproof any dough.  Which isn’t good. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until browned and gorgeous.

Brush tops with butter if you like. 

This lovely recipe appeared ages ago in a cookbook published by the Lakeshore Drive United Church in Morrisburg, in case it’s the one you’ve been using ever since. 

Ok. Before you ask, to make cinnamon buns, you may want to watch a YouTube video to get the drift, but basically, take half this recipe. Roll it out on a floured board or counter to form a rectangle ½ inch thick. Sprinkle with a mixture of 1 cup brown sugar packed, 2 ½ TBS ground cinnamon, 6 TBS butter softened.  None of this is specific. You just want lots. Roll, rather tightly, from the wide side of your rectangle. Seal the roll by pinching it a bit. Slice the roll into 12 equal slices. Place in a greased or parchment lined half sheet or 9x 13 pan. Let rise for the hour.  Bake. When baked, drizzle with a mix of icing sugar and enough milk or cream to make a drizzle. Quantity to taste.

One successful batch of bread and you will be brave and eager to try the myriad variations just a Google away!  This might become a permanent, positive, lifestyle shift.  

So far, and fortunately, there’s no sign that any ladies’ undergarments are to be eliminated as a result of this new war.