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Families in Grant County still make cinnamon rolls from the recipe that Barbara Hoffbeck Scoblic's mother made locally famous.
Families in Grant County still make cinnamon rolls from the recipe that Barbara Hoffbeck Scoblic's mother made locally famous.

Heirloom Food Cures for the COVID Era

Sep 23, 2020

My mom comes from the sprawling Mulloy family of South Dakota. Her dad and uncles built roads all over South Dakota when she was a child, so they have roots and stories in many communities. One favorite Mulloy tale is how Grandma Mulloy could throw together a pan of caramel rolls at a minute’s notice that were tastier than anything you could find today.

One of my uncles insists that her secret was butter laid between the folds of the dough. Another says it was the brown sugar. We can’t check the recipe because Grandma didn’t use one; she did write her process down for one of my cousins in Washington, who either lost it or won’t share it, so we’re stuck with trying lots of butter and brown sugar for now.

The Mulloys aren’t the only South Dakotans blessed with wonderful memories of special foods. They say the kitchen is the heart of the home, and if that’s true then favorite foods made by loving hands are the lifeblood of a family.

Knowing that, we’re always alert for special family food stories — and recipes when they haven’t been lost. Our Sept/Oct issue features a big article by Laura Johnson Andrews about the heirloom recipe contest held every year at the South Dakota State Fair. Laura judges the contest with a foodie friend, Catherine Lambrecht of the Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance. “We’ve sampled everything from pickled pigs feet to cornstarch pudding,” she says, “and enjoyed every bite.”

She says taste is important to the judges, but every entrant also submits a story about the recipe — a written history that may include photos, recipe cards or other memorabilia. Our article tells some of those stories. We write about Sheryl Kloss’s bread pudding from Tulare, Marie Harvey’s kraut strudels passed down in her Neu family and Mary Helen Wipf’s rahmstrudel from Huron. Tammy DeWald of Milbank shared tips on the DeWalds' knoephla soup and Becky Neuhalfen of Yankton tells of a cherries and dumplings dish that dates back to 1929 when her Grandma Krause moved to a farm with fruit trees.

We also have a story in the Sept/Oct issue on the Hoffbeck family’s cinnamon rolls from Big Stone City. “Her motions were as graceful and unchanging as a choreographed dance,” writes Barbara Hoffbeck Scoblic of her mom in the kitchen with a wood-burning stove. “She dusted the board with flour, cut a section of dough and rolled it out. She swept the softened butter over the surface, dotted it with small chunks of brown sugar and dashes of cinnamon, rolled up the dough into a log, cut it in a dozen pieces and placed the shiny circles of deep brown and ivory neatly in a baking dish.”

Barbara even shares the detailed recipe with us. I’d gladly reprint it here, but it’s quite long. If you don’t have access to a South Dakota Magazine copy, just email me at and I’ll send it to you. I don’t think Barbara will mind.

Our South Dakota comfort foods are more appreciated than ever in this pandemic. Cinnamon and caramel rolls probably won’t cure COVID-19 (though has anybody tested that to be certain?), but they bring us closer together as families and friends and that’s healthy for the heart.


01:41 pm - Thu, September 24 2020
Jon said:
Katie are you sure they would not be a cure?? I will volunteer to be the test case for the months of testing.

I remember coming home from the paper route in January (usually a
friday) open the door and the smell of fresh bread!!!
09:41 am - Wed, September 30 2020
Donald Simmons said:
We don't really appreciate the wonderful bounty of tastes and the accompanying personalities until they are not accessible to us. All of those wonderful cakes and bars at church dinners are now special memories of special people who are no longer with us. Thanks for sharing, Katie.
10:14 am - Fri, October 9 2020
Trish said:
My mother made giant homemade caramel rolls every year for the fall cattle drive. She would make enough so we'd all have them warm at the first break (with hot chocolate!), and then cold for desert when we stopped for lunch (with a few left over for us to eat at home as well). I remember her using the washer and dryer to hold the sheets of rolls as they made their final rise before going in the oven. The fall cattle drive happened regardless of weather. I remember doing it in a ground blizzard once. It was so cold! And all us kids of a certain age would take the day off from school as well. I often rode point, which, during a cold cattle drive, is one of the last places most riders wanted to be.
04:25 pm - Sun, October 11 2020
Ruth Reif said:
Could I get the recipie for the cinnamon rolls by Barbara
05:51 am - Fri, May 20 2022
merilee beck said:
I love our sister state, North Dakota. They have a delicious Germans from Russia recipe for caramel (carmel) rolls. However, I'm thinking this cinnamon roll recipe would be equally as good, and could be used for caramel rolls< Was hoping to get the recipe! Thanks.

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