Sunday, December 12, 2010

Holiday Rolls

This recipe descends from my Grandmother, and has become a holiday tradition in our family. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, I bake at least one batch; usually two or three, particularly for large gatherings. The recipe can be halved for smaller occasions, but make sure you have enough time: Starting at six or seven in the morning ensures enough rise time as long as you don't need them before two in the afternoon.

2 Tbsp. (or 2 packets) dry yeast
2 Cups warm water (warmer than room temperature, but not too hot for the inner wrist)
2 sticks butter (¼ cup each)
1 Cup sugar
½ Tbsp. salt
6 eggs, beaten
7 - 8 Cups white flour (optionally, one cup can be wheat)

Dissolve the yeast in the water. Melt one of the sticks of butter; mix the melted butter, the sugar, the salt, and the eggs into the yeast water. Add 7 cups of flour (including all of the wheat flour, if any) all at once, and mix to make a soft dough. Knead, adding flour as needed, until it holds together and isn't sticky. Let rise, covered, for 2½ to 3 hours.

Melt the other stick of butter. Lightly brush the counter top, rolling pin, pizza cutter, baking sheets, and your hands with butter. Divide dough into fourths. For each piece in turn:
  1. Form into a ball.
  2. Roll out into a circle the size of a small pizza.
  3. Brush the top with butter.
  4. Cut into sixteen pizza slices.
  5. Roll each triangle from large end to small, placing it on a baking sheet with the small end underneath.
With remaining melted butter, brush the top of each roll. Let rise for 2½ to 3 hours.

Bake at 350°F for 11 minutes or until golden brown. Serve in a cloth-lined basket. Makes 64 rolls.

Notes and Hints

  • Forgetting the salt is not a tragedy, but don't omit it intentionally.
  • Softer dough needs less rising time, and results in a fluffier roll, but firmer dough holds its shape better. If the rolls unroll themselves while rising, the dough is too firm.
  • Allow an hour for rolling time. It never seems like it should take that long, but it does.
  • Place the rolls diagonally on the baking sheet, with larger ones in the corners and smaller ones in the center.
  • A single recipe typically requires three half-size baking sheets, or four smaller ones. A double batch can be crammed onto five.
  • Allow enough space between the rolls on the baking sheets for expansion. They should be just touching when they come out of the oven, but pull apart easily.
  • Resist the temptation to bake two sheets at once.
  • If you have a convection oven, turn on the convection for the first few minutes, but not the entire baking time.
  • For best results, serve immediately. Once cool, they store well in a plastic bag until the next day.
  • These rolls don't really need to be served with butter or jelly. Honey is interesting, but also unnecessary.
  • The recipe can be adapted to cinnamon-walnut pull-aparts, but I keep failing to do so successfully.
  • Feel free to experiment.

1 comment:

  1. These sound really good. I'll have to see if our resident household baker will give them a try.