Monday, April 21, 2014

Dinner Rolls for Holidays...or any time!

I know this post is too late for Easter, but this recipe is so delicious that you'll want to try it this week.

Yes, yes, I know this is homemade bread - but really. Can it be that hard? After all, our grandmothers for generations back made bread every week, or maybe even every day if their family was large enough.

This is the recipe I cut my bread-making teeth on.

It started like this: Once upon a time (okay, it was the mid-70's) our family was visiting some friends, and our hostess served homemade dinner rolls. My dad took one bite, looked at me and said, "If you learn to make rolls like these, I'll double your allowance."

This is the mid-70's me. Yes, Gunne Sax dress and all :)

(By the way, I'm the only one who remembers him saying that...but I'm sure he did!)

I took him up on the challenge. I got the recipe from our hostess, followed the directions in Mom's old Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook, and made rolls. Batch after batch. They turned out tasty and delicious. From there I branched out to using different flours, different methods, different recipes...but this one is still my favorite. :)

Jan's Dinner Rolls


2 packages instant dry yeast (or 2 Tablespoons)
2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
2 cups whole wheat flour
4-6 cups all-purpose or bread flour

You can make this recipe completely by hand (like I did for years), or use a large capacity mixer (like I do now.)

First, heat the milk, sugar, butter and salt together. You can cheat and use the microwave, but I like to heat it up in a pan on the stove. But you don't want it to get too hot! Just warm enough to soften the butter.

Now, this is important! Before you do anything else, make sure your milk mixture isn't too hot. You want it to be lukewarm. You can stick a (clean!!!) pinky finger in to test it, or you can use a thermometer. If you do the finger test, it should feel slightly warm. If you use a thermometer, it should be between 110° and 115°.

(Does anyone know what happens if your liquid is too hot? It will kill the yeast. We don't like dead yeast. It makes hard, flat bread :(  )

Pour this into a large bowl (or your mixer).

Freshly ground wheat flour! Mmm-mm!

Add the two cups whole wheat flour, two eggs and 2 packages yeast. Wisk these ingredients together until it's smooth.

Let the batter rest for about twenty minutes.

Yes, I said rest. You want to wake up the yeast and let some of those flavors mingle.

After twenty minutes or so, add the rest of the flour a cup at a time, mixing each cup in completely before adding the next. If you're doing this by hand, use a large spoon, and stir it in until you can't stir the dough anymore. If you're using a mixer, use your kneading hook and add flour just until sides of your bowl no longer have dough sticking to them and the dough forms a ball.

This dough is just right - the sides of the bowl are coming clean,
and the dough is elastic.

BUT - be careful not to add too much flour. Too much will make your bread heavy and stiff. Too little will make it hard to handle. This is where practice comes in....

Now it's time to knead the dough.

If you have a mixer, set your timer for seven minutes, and let the mixer work.

If you're kneading the dough by hand, sprinkle your clean counter or bread board with about a cup of flour, and then knead. Fold one side of the lump of dough over onto the other, and push down. Turn the lump a quarter turn and repeat. Do this until the dough is smooth and elastic - about five minutes or so.

After kneading, you need to let the dough rise. In a mixer, just cover the bowl and let it sit. If you're making it by hand, put the dough into a greased bowl and cover with a damp towel.

Wait for about forty-five minutes, or until the dough is doubled.

Now comes the fun part! Divide the dough into forty-eight balls - they'll each be about 1 1/2 inches in diameter - and put two balls in each part of a muffin tin. Be sure to grease your tins!

If you don't have two muffin tins, you can make thirty-six balls and space them out on a greased cookie sheet (with sides).

Cover the rolls, and let the dough rise another forty-five minutes or so.

Bake in a 350° oven for 18-20 minutes, or until lightly browned. As soon as you remove them from the oven, brush melted butter onto the top of each roll (optional, but makes the crust softer).


It takes about three hours for me to make these rolls, so if I make them in the morning, I have the afternoon to play!

On Saturday we took our first trip of the year to Mt. Rushmore.

Even this early in the year, there were quite a few tourists there.

Cute story - on one of our visits last year, on the very spot where I took this picture, we witnessed a young man proposing to his girlfriend! He must have been pretty confident, because the whole family was there - parents, grandma, brothers and sisters. What a memorable place for a proposal!

On this visit I saw something I had never noticed before. The faces of the presidents are carved so carefully, but the hair? Look at Lincoln's hair. It's natural stone. Lincoln's face just peers out from under the top of the mountain.

We also saw another mountain goat! This one was much smaller than last week's big guy licking salt off the road. This one was munching grass along the shoulder of the highway.

And what color is that grass? Green!!!

Spring has finally arrived!


  1. I am very impressed. And now, hungry. Anything with yeast frightens me.

    1. Yeast isn't scary. It's rather shy. You have to woo yeasty doughs...treat them gently.

      Think of yeast doughs as baby rabbits. Keep them warm, but not too hot. When they rise, resist the urge to pummel - coax them into the shapes you want. Give them time to grow. And then stick 'em in the oven.

      No guts, no glory :)

  2. still sounds too complicated for me but one of these days I'm gonna practice this til I get it right...along with biscuits!

    hey what happened to Julie? she disappeared and it was about the time I wasn't checking in too often...seems like her hubby got sick or something I remember reading something about that but haven't seen her here.

    for 3 hours of work you should have held out for quadrupled allowance LOL!

    1. This is one of those recipes that requires practice, but it's worth it.

      Julie will be back. Her life got extremely hectic, between all the things she does plus helping her husband recover, so she took a bit of a break. But she'll be back with us soon.

      Thanks for missing her! I know she'll appreciate it :)

  3. This is great! I have a bread recipe I like, but it doesn't work as well with smaller rolls. I use the French bread recipe from the joy of Cooking and it works every time... but when I've tried to make it smaller, they're just... crunchy. Which makes sense.
    And that proposal story made me smile... mostly because I wonder whether he was confident or just careful. Wouldn't it be hard to say "no" when both of your extended families were watching??
    Love those goats!

    1. Oh, I love those chewy loaves with the crunchy crust! But as smaller rolls? I can imagine they'd be even crunchier.

      They take a few different skills than these soft sweet rolls.

      Even so, my family requests "Crusty Bread" often - especially if I'm making soup. I haven't made it in a while, though.

  4. Oh, that mountain goat!!!!! JAN!!!!! I think I'm in love, what a funny, hairy creature. Rock dwellers. So cool!!!!

    I must try these rolls. I love good bread, we've talked about that before, and it's the downfall of low-carb diets, but I'm willing to take one for the team, JAN!!!!! :)

    Mmmm......bread.......rolls.......butter......(attacks screen, dying for one of those rolls!!!!)

    1. The secret to making bread is to make sure there are plenty of people around to share it with.

      One roll worth of carbs...well...of course I'm going to have that. But a whole batch? It's sharing time!

  5. Hmmm...don't think I haven't notices you swapped a gratuitous puppy pic for a gratuitous goat pic! Man is he furry! And here's a city slicker question...are they 'wild' mountain goats? Or is there a goatherd out there somewhere? :-)

    You live in an incredible part of the world, Jan. What a blessing!

    And thanks for the bread recipe. I'm going to give it a go. I had a great recipe that I used for years -- got it from an old Seventeen magazine. It was wonderful and then I lost it and couldn't make bread any more. I mean literally no other recipe worked. Bah! Likely all in my head, however, I'm willing to give this one a go and see what happens.

    1. We do love living here. I can't describe how refreshed we feel just looking at the Hills, let alone spending an afternoon in them.

      My husband and I will head up there with the flimsiest excuse. :)

      And the Mountain Goats are semi-wild. They're native to the mountain regions west of us, but were introduced here in the 1920's. The population here seems to stay close to Mt. Rushmore, which makes sense. They like the higher, rockier areas, and the part of the Hills around Mt. Rushmore fit that description.

      They aren't hunted and are used to tourists, so they will put up with a lot. Just don't try to pet one, though. They'll be off before you can say "Bob's your uncle!"

      I hope your bread turns out!