Dinner Rolls for Thanksgiving

Ordinarily I’d just get some brown-n-serve rolls at the market, but to mix things up, I decided to make rolls from scratch.

There are only the two of us this year, so I’ve shot for a dozen rolls, which is severe overkill. My research involved nothing more than pulling down our trusty Betty Crocker cookbook from 1976. The recipe for their brown-n-serve rolls was halved and slightly modified, ending up with a yeast-rich dough:

  • one packet yeast (Red Star instant today)
  • 3/4 C tepid water – just warm – definitely not hot – shoot for about 100F
  • 2 T fat – I used bacon fat today, because – bacon
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 1/4 C bread flour

The original recipe calls for all-purpose flour, shortening, and half milk-half water mixture.

The mixing for this can be done by hand, but when one has a KitchenAide with a dough hook…

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water with the sugar and let it sit for a few minutes. If the yeast is alive it will start to foam, and the bread will rise. That’s important. If it doesn’t, get new yeast. Don’t waste your time.

Add the salt, fat, and about half of the flour to the mixing bowl and mix until a smooth batter is achieved. Gradually add most of the remaining flour until a soft dough is formed.

Flour a surface and turn the dough out onto the flour. Knead for five minutes, adding more flour if the dough is still sticky. Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Place in a relatively warm, draft-free area, and let the dough rise until it’s about twice its volume, about 1-2 hours.

Punch the dough down to release the gas that’s built up, and divide the dough into twelve equal portions. Form each portion into a ball, stretching the dough to the bottom, pinching the dough sealed there to form a smooth roll surface. Place rolls in a muffin tin. Cover with the tea towel again, and let the rolls rise again, until about doubled.

Brush rolls with melted butter ( or bacon fat, because – bacon), and bake at 375F for about 15 minutes.

I recently found some elderberry jelly at a folksy roadside stand, and boy do these play well… oh, yeah, we had to test some of the rolls.

N.B. These rolls were not done in muffin tins. Nor were they created under the most auspicious conditions for yeast bread. They were half through the second rise when we had an unexpected trip to the Emergency Department in Boston, so they suffered an interrupted rise. The crumb was not as good, the texture was just OK, but they sure do taste good.

I’ll check back in after Thanksgiving…

I didn’t take many pictures on Thanksgiving. I think I was busy. I need an entourage… But this time, I used the muffin tin, and they turned out beautifully, but no photo, no proof. I didn’t get a picture of the turkey, either, and it should have been a turkey pin-up, it was so pretty.

I had a bear of a time with the other two packets of Red Star yeast. Neither of them rose! I ended up at the market with the choice of Pizza Yeast or a pound (a pound) of proper yeast. I know the shelves are rather sparse, but that choice was asinine.

I found in subsequent batches that using about 2 C of the 2 1/4 C of flour in the initial mixing is just about right. The other quarter cup can be kneaded in as necessary to get the right dough texture.


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