I could have titled this post “The Best Rolls. Ever.” -and it would have been true. My childhood memories of Thanksgiving dinners at my Grandparents’ house always include hovering with my cousins over the napkin- covered baskets full of steaming, homemade, mouth- watering rolls. True, we loved just about everything put on the table for the Thanksgiving feast… but oh, the rolls! We could have stuffed ourselves just on those beauties alone. After I got married, my husband and I begged my Aunt Susan for the recipe, and she so kindly shared it with me. I have made these rolls so many times now, and they taste just like I remember. (I think what makes them so delicious is the butter… there is a lot. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!) I almost feel like I am sharing a secret family recipe, but I think great food is meant to be shared, and I hope you will enjoy these rolls as much as I do!
Yield: 48 rolls
1 c. + 2 Tbsp. butter
2 c. water, divided
2 rounded Tbsp. yeast
3/4 c. sugar
5-6 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
Melt 1 cup butter in 1 cup of boiling water. Add 1 cup of cold water and when warm to the touch add the yeast and sugar. Allow to sit 10-15 minutes or so until bubbly (this is called “proofing the yeast”, which ensures that the yeast is active and gives flavor to the rolls). Then add 2 eggs, mixing well (do this in a large bowl, or your stand mixer bowl). If you have the time, sifting the flour first will help make the rolls even more light and fluffy. Add 5-6 cups of flour, adding the salt and baking powder between the 4th and 5th cups of flour. For me, 6+ cups of flour is what it takes. Mix well. The dough should still be soft and sticky. Let rise double in bowl while covered with a clean, non- fuzzy dishtowel (about 2 hours). You can speed up the process a bit by placing the bowl in a warm area, e.g. preheating the oven for about 3 minutes, then turning the heat completely off, and placing the dough in the oven to rise. Punch the dough down and divide into thirds. Roll each dough ball into a circle (about 14 inches in diameter) and cut into 16 wedges with a knife or pizza cutter. Roll each wedge up from the fat end towards the middle of the circle. Set on cookie sheets, cover with dishtowel, and let rise again, 1- 1 1/2 hours (or you may freeze the dough at this point). Optional: Melt the remaining butter and use a pastry brush to top each roll with a little butter. Bake rolls at 400* F for 9-10 minutes.
Variations: Use this dough to make orange rolls or cinnamon rolls by adding 2 tsp. vanilla extract with the eggs. Roll the dough into 2 rectangles, butter the dough and sprinkle with (a lot of) sugar & orange peel, or brown sugar and cinnamon. Roll the dough into a log shape and use a piece of long thread or dental floss to cut the dough in 1 inch intervals by sliding the floss under the log, then crisscrossing the ends and pulling tight, all the way through the dough. Arrange circle slices on baking sheet, let rise, and bake as directed above.
My additions in italics.
I look forward to baking these rolls next week. They are definitely one of my favorite parts of the meal (foodwise of course). I can hardly wait! I would love to know if you try them out, and I will do my best to answer any questions you may have (with the understanding of course that I am no culinary master)- just leave a comment or shoot me an email.
What is your favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner?