Home made bread and Sunday dinner rolls, and delicious fresh cinnamon rolls are a part of my DNA. And up to this point in my life, have only been in my DNA so far as I enjoy eating all of the above foods very much, because carbs = yummmm. But even though I love me some rolls, I’ve never actually been able to make them. Properly, and for real.
My grandmother and mother both were, and are, phenomenal cooks. My grandmother literally fed an entire neighborhood of boys (and girls too) throughout the better part of the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s. Somewhere in her busy days of raising four children and their friends, (and doing it well) my grandma managed to work full time as a nurse at a state mental health hospital, attend Brigham Young University with her daughter (my mother) to finish her college degree, write papers and complete homework, and keep an immaculate house.
Let’s pause right here, and get real for a minute, my grandmother was no saint. She cursed, had a tongue like a razor, which when she wanted to use it, had no compunction in doing so. She was really difficult to tolerate most of the time. But she was also one of the strongest, smartest, hardest working women the earth will ever know, and I miss her every hour of every day. I’m so grateful to have grown up next door to both my grandfather and her, because the life I live now is very much a reflection of the wisdom I gained watching the way my grandparents lived theirs.
ANYWAY, let’s talk dinner rolls. Delicious, buttery dinner rolls.
Almost every Sunday as far back as I can remember, my mom would get up early and make dough, let it rise, and make about four cookie sheets lined to the edges with rows of perfect home made rolls. She would spread kitchen towels over the sheets of rolls, and set the pans all across the kitchen, on top of the stove and counters, and kitchen table, to rise while we went to church for three hours. (p.s. Mormons go to church forever and ever, and ever, amen) When we came home from church, ravenous, and wild from three straight hours of sitting, (see above re: forrrrrr-eeeevvvvvvv-eeeeeer) my mom would pop the rolls in the oven in rotations of two pans at a time, eventually feeding us hot buttered rolls with homemade apricot jam until we were placated into submission. Then my parents napped until it was time for Sunday dinner (smart move), which was a full-china, good-crystal type of affair (every. week.) that included multiple dishes (a lot of pot roast and turkey) and always ended with dessert (we ate a. lot. of ice cream).
When I think about the Sunday dinners of my childhood, I feel warm and happy, and can almost smell the rolls.
You can imagine my dismay then, when as a newly wedded and dewy-eyed youth, I failed miserably, time after time in my attempts to make my grandmother and mother’s recipe for bread + rolls. I even made a lifetime goal to learn how to do it properly.
- #7 on my Life List : Make crescent dinner rolls that rival those of my mother
But guys, when you persevere in pursuit of perfected carbohydrates, miracles happen.
I finally did it.
Last Sunday, I was sick and home from church, having some Sunday dinner of yesteryear nostalgia, and on a whim I decided to try the rolls again, using not the recipe my mother gave me, but the roll recipe from The Lion House cookbook. The Lion House cookbook is an old Mormon pioneer cookbook my mom and grandma both use(d), and the copy I use is my grandmother’s; she gave it to me before I got married, along with an assortment of measuring cups and spoons for my new kitchen. Up until last week, I’d never tried any of the recipes in the book, but have kept it around because it’s filled with small notations on recipes in my grandmother’s handwriting. Like this one next to the baking directions for dinner rolls:
‘375, 400 too hot!‘
She was right, 375 degrees is perfect.
- Step 1: Combine yeast and water and a pinch of the sugar in large mixing bowl, and let sit for 5 minutes. Once the yeast is activated, add the remaining sugar, butter, salt, powdered milk, 2 cups of flour, and egg. Mix together until the dough is smooth, adding another 2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup at a time, continually mixing until the dough is smooth again. Add 1 more cup, 1/2 cup at a time, and mix until smooth and all flour is combined.
- Step 2: Flour a small space on a counter or cutting board and gently knead dough until soft and dry. Roll dough into a ball, tucking loose ends under and pinching them together.
- Step 3: Grease mixing bowl, and roll the dough around until the surface is covered in a light layer of grease.
- Step 4: Cover bowl with a kitchen towel and set it in a warm spot to rise for several hours (mine took 3).
- Step 5: When the dough has risen to the top of the bowl, pull it out and again gently knead it on a lightly floured surface. Separate the dough into two balls, and set one off to the side while you work with the first. Using a rolling pin, roll the ball of dough out into a thin circle.
- Step 6: Using a pizza cutter or small kitchen knife, slice the dough into several uniform pie shaped pieces. Starting at the larger outer edge of the slices, roll slice towards the smaller pointed end, wrapping the point all the way around.
- Step 6: Grease a cookie sheet or baking pan and place the rolls about 2″ inches apart in vertical rows across the whole sheet.
- Step 7: Cover the pans with a kitchen towel and put them in a warm place to rise until the rolls double in size. (I let mine rise for about an hour and a half) When the rolls are double-ish in size, pop them in a 375 degree oven and bake for 15-20 minutes (mine took 17 minutes exactly).
- Step 8: (optional slash HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) Use the remaining ball of dough to make cinnamon rolls along the dinner rolls. My mom almost always made at least one, if not two, pans of cinnamon rolls along with the Sunday Dinner rolls. If you want to try this, (you really do) take the extra ball of dough and go back to Step 6. Before you slice the dough into rolls, spread melted butter (using the back side of a spoon) all over the surface of the dough, to the edges. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar until completely saturated, and then proceed with steps 6 + 7. As soon as the cinnamon rolls come out of the oven, top with the homemade frosting of your choice and a sprinkle of cinnamon. YUM.
Moms Home Made Sunday Dinner Rolls
yield: 5 dozen rolls // prep time: 20 minutes // total time: 5 hours // bake time: 17 minutes
(Note: I used my KitchenAid Stand Mixer to make these rolls, but they can also be made by hand)
- 2 T dry yeast
- 2 Cups very warm (not hot) water
- 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup shortening (I used butter)
- 2 1/2 t salt
- 2/3 cup nonfat dry (powdered) milk
- 5-6 cups of flour (I used to 7-8)
- 1 egg