Thursday, May 1, 2014

Brown Bobbies - A Family Tradition

This was one of the 'biggest' posts I published in my first year of blogging.  This was originally posted in 2010. Since I am going to visit my dad - 3 hours away - this week, and all my brothers will be there, I made a couple batches of Brown Bobbies to share, so I'm sharing this with you...once again 

Gr'ma Mary King
My Grandma Mary King - taken early 1970

I have been blessed to inherit a special kitchen 'appliance' from my mother, after she passed away in 1987 - who inherited it from my dad's mother.  This is a picture of grandma holding my newborn firstborn - daughter, Deb ~ a month before grandma went to heaven.

This appliance is called a "Brown Bobby Machine."  It has a cloth-covered cord...that should give you a clue to how old it is. (I am always amazed it STILL works!!!) 

My grandparents purchased this little machine about 1910.  My grandmother made the 'greaseless donuts' and my dad and his siblings sold them door to door, in little cartons, similar to our egg carton today.

bb machine
This is a picture of the machine ~ it's similar to a waffle iron and makes 6 donuts at a time.

I wasn't able to get a clear picture of the metal plate on the bottom front of the base, but this is what it reads...

Greaseless Doughnut Machine

Equipped with hold-heet elements

Food Display Machine Corp.

6 Amps  Chicago, USA  105-120 volts

They're really not greaseless ~ they're just not fried in oil like a 'normal' doughnut ~ they’re baked!
I normally use my 1/4 cup measuring cup to measure out the dough to drop onto the hot iron - close the lid and let them bake for 3 minutes and you have a yummy tasting treat.

We never frost ours, but you can certainly add a glaze if preferred. 

The special spice in this lovely treat is mace...the outer coating of nutmeg. 
Just tasting that flavor stirs many memories in me and my family. 


2 cups sugar (I substitute half with Splenda)
1 cup lard (I use Crisco)MMM!
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 TB. mace (or nutmeg if you prefer)
2 cups buttermilk
4 cups flour

Blend sugar and lard until smooth - beat in eggs, and add vanilla, then salt, soda, baking powder and mace.  Alternate adding buttermilk and flour until batter is smooth.  Bake in heated machine on high for 3 minutes.

(If you don't have a BB machine, but want to try something different - try using a waffle iron)

My kids have great memories of being at my parents' home and enjoying brown bobbies there, so I asked my daughter, Deb, to share some of her memories of those special days at (my mom) Grandma's.....


Brown bobbies are one thing my brothers & I remember very fondly when we talk about our grandma!  She would make bunches of them and let us eat them until we were almost SICK.  She always had hot coffee brewing, and mixed with the smell of the baking brown bobbies - Ooooh did her house smell yummy.  She'd have Strawberry freezer jam and when we were conservative in putting it on, she'd add more like strawberry jam as if she was making us an ice cream sundae.  We could never eat too many of them where she was concerned, and a few times she'd make a whole new batch when the first ones ran low...


4 c. ripe strawberries
4 c. granulated sugar
1 box Sure-Jell powdered pectin
3/4 c. water

Wash and hull the berries; crush them completely, a few at a time. (Should end up with 2 cups.) In large bowl, mix together the berries and sugar. Let stand 10 minutes. Combine pectin and water in saucepan. Bring to boil; boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir hot pectin into the fruit bowl; continue stirring. Don't worry if sugar is not completely dissolved. Ladle jam into freezer containers. Put lids on immediately. Let stand at room temperature 24 hours or until set. Refrigerate for a few weeks or freeze for up to a year.

For more interesting reading about this unique machine, check out this article posted in 2002 at CommonPlaceBook.

Linked to Weekend Potluck

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  1. I have my grandmother's double machine, but no recipe book. She cooked from memory, so I am eager to compare your recipe with the one she told me. Thanks for posting this!

    1. WOW! That's so cool! It isn't very often I cross paths with someone else who has a BB machine! Hope you enjoyed some more of those tasty treats. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. I have been on the hunt for this machine. You wouldn't happen to know of anyone willing to part ways with their would you?

  3. Hello,
    My mom used to talk about her mom's Brown Bobby and my brother recently found and purchased one for Mom's birthday. We have been searching for the original recipe that came with the machine--do you know, is the recipe in this post the original?

    Thanks so much!