These rolls are fluffy and buttery and versatile – they taste great without toppings, with sweet toppings like honey or jelly, or as a little sandwiches. They are also great as leftovers – cold, reheated, toasted with a little butter, etc. I could go on and on, but these are always crowd pleasers.
Source: family recipe that shows up at just about every family gathering
Difficulty: Medium (no need to be afraid of dealing with yeast)
Time Required: you need a few hours one evening and a few hours the next day (this includes rising times)
Quantity: one 13”x17 ¾” pan full of rolls, plus a few extra rolls
½ cup sugar
½ cup shortening
1 Tablespoon salt
2 cups whole milk, scalded
2 packages dry yeast (or 4 ½ teaspoons yeast)
½ cup warm water
2 cups all purpose flour + more as needed (buy a small (2 lb) bag of flour and don’t use quite all of it)
Scald milk in heavy saucepan or in microwave until tiny bubbles form around rim of milk in pan. Pour over shortening, sugar and salt in mixing bowl. Stir until dissolved. Let rest until warm to touch.
Meanwhile, stir the dry yeast into warm water (warmer than body temperature, but not unpleasantly hot) in a medium sized bowl. Add a sprinkle of sugar to feed the yeast. It will begin to bubble and grow showing you that it is alive.
When milk mixture has cooled to lukewarm, stir in yeast mixture. With mixer running on low speed or stirring by hand, add about two cups flour. When this is blended add more flour gradually. When you have added enough flour the dough will pull away from the spoon. Test by scooping up dough and turning spoon or rubber spatula upside down over your bowl. If the dough drops off and leaves your spatula or spoon almost clean, then you have added enough flour.
Allow dough to rise covered with waxed paper or saran wrap until doubled in bulk. Stir down and store, covered tightly, in refrigerator until ready to roll out (up to 24 hours.)
When ready to roll out, stir dough down and spoon some out onto well floured surface. Pat with flour and gently roll out to about ¼ inch thickness. Cut with biscuit cutter, dip both sides in melted butter, and place on rimmed cookie sheet, folding over to make pocketbook shape. Try to get as many rolls out of each time you roll it out as possible, since the quality of the rolls will decrease with every roll-out as more flour gets pressed into the dough. I use a ½ size jelly roll pan (13×17¾ inches). Nestle rolls fairly close together. Cover with waxed paper and a dishtowel on top of the waxed paper. I like to use my lidded quarter or half sheet pans for this. Let rise for 2 hours, or until doubled. To determine if they’re risen enough, poke on with your finger. If after a few minutes the dent is still there, the rolls are ready to be baked.
Bake at 425 degrees (400 convection) for about 13-15 minutes, or until browned on top and bottom.
Freezing: These rolls freeze well after they are baked. After they are completely cooled, wrap them in foil and seal the edges tightly. They can be made and frozen for several weeks before you need them. Thaw on the counter (still wrapped tightly in foil so that the condensation does not get on the rolls). Then reheat for 5-10 minutes at 425 degrees (400 convection), opening the foil a little for the last few minutes.
The Story: I have so many memories tied to these rolls, since we have them at every family gathering. No one will let my aunt forget the Thanksgiving when she chose to let the rolls rise outside… and of course, they never rose in the cool air. And I won’t let my mom forget the time she forgot the salt… that tablespoon is VERY important. My uncle makes them with a larger biscuit cutter than the rest of us and calls his version “Less Embarrassing Rolls,” since you don’t have to eat quite as many.