Grandma Dorothy was the paternal great grandmother to my kids and all their cousins. When I first came to the family, everybody talked about her awesome rolls and it was one of the things people really looked forward to when they would have family gatherings at her house. I asked her for the recipe and she told me that she didn’t give it out to just anybody. I told her that somebody in the family needed to have it to carry on the legacy. It didn’t take much arm twisting for her to share it with me.
That was forty years ago and these rolls have gotten to be a family favorite. I wasn’t even allowed to come to holiday dinners unless I promised to bring the rolls. Ha! I never pushed it and became the official family roll bringer. I’ve tweaked it a little bit over the years for various reasons. I have better luck if I use two (2) packages of yeast and I add a teaspoon of Honey to the water and yeast to feed the yeast. You can substitute honey for sugar to give the rolls an interesting hint of sweet, too.
The time has come to pass the torch and share Grandma Dorothy’s recipe:
1/2 c. warm water
1-2 pkg yeast
(1 tsp. Honey)
1/2 c. sugar (or honey)
1/2 c. Crisco or lard
2 cups warm water
6-8 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
Dissolve the yeast in warm water to activate it. Do not let the water be too hot or it will kill the yeast; just warm. Add a teaspoon of honey to feed the yeast and let stand for about 15 minutes. It will expand!
In a large mixing bowl, add sugar (or honey), Crisco and egg. Cream them together until fluffy and the sugar is mostly dissolved. Mix in the yeast mixture then add the warm water and mix it in as well.
Add the salt and then start adding the flour. Start with 3 cups and mix well. You may want to change over to a dough hook if you have one. Add 2 more cups and mix well. Check the consistency of the dough.
The dough should be a little sticky. Turn it out of the bowl on to a clean, DRY floured surface and start kneading in the last cup or so of flour. At this point your dough should still be a little bit tacky. If it feels kind of sticky, but doesn’t stick to your hand, it’s perfect for light airy rolls. If you prefer a heavier more substantial roll, just add more flour until it’s how you like it. There’s room for error in baking bread.
After you have kneaded the bread, about 10 minutes, the perfect place to put it is in a large, well oiled bowl with a lid. It’s okay to use it the same day as long as you have let it double in size, but for proper refrigerator rolls, the dough must sit in the refrigerator over night.
Next comes making the rolls. Dump the dough out on a floured surface and “punch it down”. That means knead it about five minutes. This recipe makes 24 good sized rolls. Keep your surface lightly floured. Cut the whole thing in half, for two 9×13 pans. Then cut each half into four sections. Then cut each of the four sections into three. That should give you 24 equally sized rolls. Then form them into balls. The first few times you do it, it seems a little tricky, but once you get the hang of it’s pretty simple. I think it would be easier to show a video than try to explain it.
Place the rolls in the 9×13 pan, three across and four down. Cover with a clean cloth and let rise in a dark, warm place for 30-45 minutes. They need to double in size and should look nice and snug in the pan. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. If you don’t butter the tops, the rolls will have a bit of a crunch on top. If you want them soft, butter them as soon as they come out of the oven. VOILA! You’re done.
One little creative idea I use for these rolls is that sometimes I add a tablespoon or two of fresh rosemary to the water, before putting in the flour. It’s yummy.
I also use this exact same recipe to make Caramel Cinnamon rolls. That will be a separate post.