In Eastern Massachusetts, a "flipper" is a Portuguese pastry, a doughnut without the hole (similar to a malassada, another Portuguese confection). Ruth was famous for making flippers from her grandmother's recipe. "Everyone's sad I can't make these anymore because of the arthritis in my hands. But I can give the recipe!" she says.
1 package dry yeast
2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons melted shortening (or butter)
1 egg, beaten
6-7 cups flour
1/2 cup shortening (or butter)
Powdered sugar (optional)
In a large bowl, whisk yeast into warm water. Add salt and sugar. Using a hand beater, mix in melted shortening (or butter) and egg. Add flour gradually, until dough is soft and velvety, no longer sticky. Knead dough until it springs back (about 5 minutes). Set, covered, in a warm place and let rise 3-4 hours, or until doubled in size.
Cut dough pieces, 2-3 ounces per piece; shape into oblongs. Lay them on a towel; let rise again, about 45 minutes.
In a cast-iron frying pan, melt shortening (or butter) until pan is three-quarters full. When hot, add dough pieces. Fry on one side and flip over. When done, drain on paper towels.
If you like, add powdered sugar to a paper bag, drop hot flippers in, and shake to coat. Serve hot with maple syrup or molasses.