05
Dec
10

Mom’s Old Fashioned Dinner Rolls

I wonder how many of these rolls I’ve eaten in my lifetime. Ten thousand? Twenty thousand? A million? It’s got to be some stratospheric number like that. I’ve eaten these rolls every holiday, every trip home from college, every special occasion, and many, many times in between. I’ve had them paired with my mom’s wild rice soup, her hearty beef stew, her dozens of casseroles. These rolls were a constant during my childhood. They’re tall, yeasty and comforting. And whenever I talk my mom into putting on her apron, it’s usually to bake us a batch of dinner rolls.

My mom found this recipe in a magazine in the early 1970s. What made her bake these rolls for the first time is a mystery. So is the magazine. We’re guessing it may have been Ladies Home Journal or a non-food publication. On the back of the recipe is an article on microsurgery — not exactly Bon Appetit material.

The clipping would crumble if removed from the plastic sleeve that holds it. Nevertheless, Mom brought it with her to St. Louis last month so she could make us a batch. I don’t know why she still consults it — she really does know how to make these rolls by heart. She’s adapted the recipe over the years. The baking time listed here is her best estimate, because she really just knows when they’re finished.

Old Fashioned Dinner Rolls

1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (two packages)
6 cups bread flour, divided
2 cups water
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus 1-2 tablespoons for tops of the rolls
1 egg
vegetable or canola oil

Early in the day or up to three days ahead, combine sugar, salt, yeast, and 2 1/4 cups flour in a large bowl of a stand mixer. In a one-quart sauce pan over low heat, heat water and 1/2 cup butter until very warm, 120-130 degrees F. The butter does not need to melt.

With mixer at low speed (using the paddle attachment if you have one), gradually beat the water and butter into the dry ingredients until just blended. Increase speed to medium, beat two minutes, occasionally scraping bowl with spatula. Beat in egg and 3/4 cup flour to make a thick batter. Continue beating 2 minutes scraping the bowl often. Use a large spoon to stir in enough additional flour, about 2 1/2 cups, to make a soft dough.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, up to five minutes or so. Shape the dough into a large ball and place in a greased large bowl. Turning dough over so the top of it is greased. Cover with towel and let rise in a warm place, away from drafts, until doubled, about 90 minutes. Punch down dough. Turn it over in the bowl and brush with oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. (To do ahead, refrigerate at this point up to three days, punching dough down every now and then until ready to use).

Two and a half hours before serving, remove dough and grease two round 8-inch cake pans (or save half the dough in refrigerator until later). Tear dough into pieces slightly larger than golf balls, roll into balls, and place into prepared pan. Cover with towel, let rise in warm place until doubled, about two hours.

Preheat oven to 400. Tent pan with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until golden brown, about 8 to 12 minutes longer. Remove from oven. Brush tops of rolls with melted butter.

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2 Responses to “Mom’s Old Fashioned Dinner Rolls”


  1. December 31, 2010 at 9:36 am

    I just found you site through a google search for old diner style signs. I love old recipes from the 70’s and from mom’s. I am going to make these rolls because I love a good yeast roll. I just signed up for email updates. Love you blog.


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