Scald milk and pour over sugar, shortening, & salt.
Let it cool to lukewarm while softening yeast in a small bowl with the warm water.
When soft, add the egg and beat together slightly.
Pour the yeast/egg mixture into the milk mixture and stir them together.
The flour may be sifted or poured into the liquid.
With a large spoon, stir until flour/milk is well mixed.
You should have a firm, but not stiff dough.
Without removing it from the bowl, cover the dough with a plate or towel and set aside to rise until double in bulk (about 2 hrs depending on the temperature in the kitchen).
Instead of letting the dough rise at this point you may put it in the refrigerator and use it later, or the next day.
Watch to make sure it doesn't spill out of the bowl.
If it starts to spill before you're ready to use it, punch it back down.
Refrigerated dough is easier to handle but takes longer to rise.
If you want to make bread, dump the dough out of the bowl onto a floured surface and with more flour as needed to keep it from sticking, knead it until springy and easy to handle.
This dough does not require a lot of kneading; only enough to make it easy to handle.
For 2 medium size loaves cut the dough in half and knead/shape each into loaves and put into greased baking pans.
Allow about 2 hours for the dough to double again.
Bake in a 375 degree oven until lightly browned on top (if uncertain whether or not bread is done, tip out of pan and see if bottom is browned too).
To make rolls, work and knead dough until springy and easily handled.
Roll out with a rolling pin and cut with a biscuit cutter and fold over and place on a greased cookie sheet (Parkerhouse rolls), or break dough into small pieces, make into little balls and place 3 in each section of a greased muffin pan (Cloverleaf rolls).
For Christmas bread or sweet rolls, roll out dough as for Parkerhouse rolls, except trying to make an oblong instead of a round.
Spread it with raisins and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
Dot with butter and roll as for a jelly roll.
Slice and place on a greased pan or make into a circle and make slashes through the dough at intervals.
Let rise and bake as for loaves.
Top with an icing made of confectioners' sugar, melted butter, milk, and vanilla or rum flavoring and drizzle over the bread or rolls while hot.
Decorate with nuts or fruits.
If you want to make a whole wheat bread, use half white and half whole wheat flour, and use brown sugar instead of white.
The amounts above will yield 1 large or 2 medium loaves of bread, or 2 dozen large rolls.