Aunt Marie’s Dinner Rolls

When I was a kid, one of my ruling passions was dinner rolls. Even at age 12, I could wax long and lyrically on the merits of my Aunt Marie’s rolls over Mrs. Davis’ rolls at the community potluck. So it really came as no surprise to me when I was faced recently with a family rebellion.

“What do you mean, you’re not making dinner rolls for Thanksgiving this year?” My wife, the Salad Queen, led the charge.

“No dinner rolls,” my son’s spoon clattered on the rim of his fourth bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. “But Dad, you have to make dinner rolls… Thanksgiving just won’t be the same without them.” He almost swooned.

“There’s just no time this year,” I said, thinking of my normal recipe with its overnight rise. “We’ll just buy some. They’ll be fine.”

“Nooo,” my son cried with real anguish. In the ensuing outcry I saw my wife’s face fall as well. Even my daughter the Cake Princess chimed in.

“Whatever…” she paused her fingers briefly above her phone’s keypad and looked at me. I caught a look that told me she was suddenly remembering buttery rolls at the family feast; despite her voiced indifference, even she was known to love a good dinner roll.

“Okay, okay,” I caved in the face of all that emotion.

And so I was transported back to my Aunt Marie’s little kitchen with its wonderful smells where once I sat to watch her make dinner rolls while the other kids played hide-and-seek in her attic rumpus room. Her rolls were nothing too fancy, just real ingredients turned with a loving hand in just a few hours into soft and delicious wonders. Here’s my take on them.

For my techniques and a little baking entertainment, check out How-to Video: Making Dinner Rolls.

 

Aunt Marie’s Dinner Rolls

 

Makes 4 dozen rolls

Start to finish in 3 hours

 

4 ½ cups all-purpose flour, divided into two equal parts

1 cup milk

1 stick (4 ounces) salted butter, divided

¼ cup sugar

1 ¼ teaspoons of salt

1 package of quick rise yeast (Rapid Rise and Perfect Rise are two types)

1 cup warm water (100°)

About ½ cup additional flour for kneading

 

For best results, you’ll also need:

A stand mixer with dough hook and flat beater

A 10” x 15” pyrex lasagna pan

A dough scraper (or a plastic lid cut in half)

A bread bowl

A 1-quart pan and spatula

 

  1. Pour a cup of milk into the quart pan and heat for 3 minutes on medium until it’s hot and steamy. Do not boil. Add the sugar, 5 1/2 Tablespoons of the butter and salt. Let the milk cool for a few minutes while the butter melts.

    Forming the dinner rolls

  2. Pour the milk mixture into the mixing bowl and scrape the gooey sugar from the bottom of the pan in as well. Add a cup of warm water, 2 ¼ cups of flour and sprinkle on the quick rise yeast. Attach the flat beater, and beat on medium speed for 4 or 5 minutes, until you have a smooth batter with no lumps. Scrape the bowl as necessary.
  3. Now add another 2¼ cups flour, switch to the dough hook and beat for a further 5 minutes on medium low speed. Scrape bowl as necessary to get all the bits. The dough is ready for hand work once all the flour is fully incorporated and the dough is smooth and stretchy.
  4. Now comes the fun. Put a small amount of flour onto a work surface. Get all the dough off the dough hook, and scrape it in one lump out of the mixer bowl and onto the flour.  Pull the edges of the dough in toward the center like an envelope, using the dough scraper at first and then your fingers as the dough gets less sticky. Continue this, constantly pulling and then pushing down on the center with your palms, adding a little flour as needed to prevent sticking. After a few minutes, you will feel the dough push back as the gluten develops. This is a good thing. Knead for a minimum of 5 minutes altogether, and then form a ball.
  5. Put the ball of dough into a bread bowl and let rise, lightly covered, for 45 minutes in an 80° environment (see note below).

    Dinner Rolls ready for the oven

  6. Coat the bottom and sides of the lasagna pan with 1 1/2 teaspoons of softened butter. Melt the other 2 Tablespoons of butter lightly and set aside.
  7. Spread the dough into a rough rectangle on a lightly floured surface and fold the rectangle in half. Spread out into a rough rectangle and fold in half again. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes and then spread it out into a rectangle the size of the lasagna pan. Put the dough into the lasagna pan, spread it out evenly, and pour the melted butter over the dough.
  8. Using the dough scraper, cut the dough into 48 small squares inside the pan. To do this, make 5 parallel cuts lengthwise and 7 crosswise in a grid. Picking up each of the small squares of dough in turn, stretch the top skin across and down, tucking it roughly under to make a small ball of dough. Put each piece back where it came from. No need to strive for perfection here: to do this to all the rolls should only take three or four minutes! 
  9. Let the rolls rise for 30 – 40 minutes at 80°, until at least doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 350° when the rolls are nearly risen.
  10. Bake for 20 minutes at 350°. Aunt Marie’s Dinner Rolls are ready when they’re light brown on the top. Cool for an hour on a rack – that is, if you can wait that long to try them… I know I never can!

 

Creating an 80° environment: Best is to have a tight cupboard with a thermometer, 100 watt standard lightbulb for heat, and a shelf large enough to hold your bread bowl or trays. Add a pan with hot water to increase humidity. You can also – as many home bakers do – use your oven. Turn it on at 200° for only 2 or 3 minutes; turn it off again and wait a few minutes. The inside will be somewhat warm, but not hot. By putting a pan of boiling water on a low shelf and turning on the oven light you can, with a bit of finagling, keep it at around 80°. 

 

30 comments to Aunt Marie’s Dinner Rolls

  • Did you seriously think you were going to get out of these. Look at them. It’s like saying there will not be stuffing. Glad you came to your senses. lol

  • Mmmm!!! You can’t replace these with store bought, icky, doughy, yucky rolls!!! These have been printed for our own use and we will thank Aunt Marie when we have ours!

  • Ooooooh!!!…Dinner Rolls!… I have not tried making dinner rolls myself but this one is a MUST do…Time to try something out of my usual element…BAKING…even if it’s just rolls…but these do not look like ANY rolls…

  • Yummm. Making me undeniably hungry!

  • The Salad Queen

    These are absolutely wonderful rolls – I guarantee you’ll eat more than one! The family thanks you ♥.

  • This tutorial will come in handy for the holidays Don. On another subject when I was in San Francisco at Foodbuzz Sarah was also there from 0C2 Seattle. Such fun!

  • dang, these look amazing! i also vote you not skip them ever!

  • Glad your family could convince you to include the rolls! They looks amazing!

  • Hi Don-Just wanted to let you know that I gave a “shout out” to you on my blog with your aunt’s beautiful, and yummy dinner rolls on your video tutorial.
    I watched it, and of course I was impressed as always. What a great way for people to click on to your blog, so they can make the same rolls too.
    Thank you for sharing!
    Also, I will put your blog on my foodie friend blog list so I can keep up with your latest post!

  • I would have reacted the exact same way as your son if my mom told me she wasn’t making homemade rolls for Thanksgiving. Nothing can replace homemade. I like your video and I must say, I have never seen rolls prepared like that before (the way you put them in the pan, cut them and then shape them all in the pan), but I am going to have to give these a try. The dough looked so soft and the rolls look really light & fluffy. Thanks for sharing with us.

  • Martin D. Findley

    This will soon become my family’s favorite dinner rolls. I can’t wait to “spring” it on them on Christmas! Thanks!

  • [...] them handy. Warm your 80° humid environment. (See Creating an 80° Environment at the bottom of Aunt Marie’s Dinner Rolls for details on how to do this.) Your environment should include a pan of hot [...]

  • I made these rolls for Christmas and they were a huge hit! They stayed moist and fresh for days after and made terrific leftover turkey sliders! I froze the rolls before the second rise, placed them in the fridge the night before baking, then set them out on the counter in the morning to rise. Brushed with butter again before baking. Just to clarify, I figured from the directions that you add 6T of butter to the dough, and 2T reserved for the top – is that correct?

  • Eric A. Roberg

    Hi Sortachef. I made these for dinner at my Mom and Dad’s on New Years and they were SOOOO good, and even kind of fun to make. I have the same question as Deanna – How much butter do you mean by “divided”? How much of the butter goes into the dough. I did almost the same thing as Deanna – I used 1 tablespoon to grease the pan, melted 5 tablespoons for the batter, and then the last 2 tablespoons to pour on top. The only problem I had was with the amount of flour. I used GourmetSleuth.com cooking conversions as I cook with an Oxo Digital Scale (it’s so much easier) and according to them, 4.5 cups of all-purpose flour is 563 grams, (so each addition of the two was 281 grams to equal 2 1/4 cups). But, when I had added all the flour the dough was just way to wet to work with. I had to keep adding flour until it began forming a ball. I was scared to death they were going to turn out tough, but felt a little better knowing that I was using White Lily All Purpose Flour, which would hopefully keep the toughness to a minimum. I was also a little nervous about the pan size, as my Pyrex pan is labeled as 9 x 13. Results???? THEY TURNED OUT PERFECT ! The best thing I have EVER baked in my life, like little clouds of DELICIOUS GOODNESS!! :)

  • Eric A. Roberg

    By the way, thanks Deanna, I had wondered how I could prepare these ahead of time, so I am copying and pasting your procedure to my saved copy of the recipe. That sounds like a perfect way to make them when strapped for time.

  • Okay, I see the problem, and I’ve corrected it. You add 5 1/2 Tablespoons of the butter to the milk mixture, use 1/2 a Tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoon) to coat the pan and pour 2 Tablespoons over the top to coat the rolls as you form them. So sorry for that oversight. As to the flour issue: whereas I often use weights instead of volumes for measuring flour, I decided to use volume for this recipe to keep it simple. BTW: do check out the video that accompanies this recipe!
    Thanks for all the lovely comments!

    Cheers,
    Sortachef

  • Eric

    Thanks, Sortachef, I feel like I have discovered a best-kept secret with your roll recipe. I’ve always wanted to learn to make rolls but always felt intimidated by the large amounts of flour and yields of most other recipes. Keeping it limited to a small pan, and the way it gives the rolls no other option than to rise up makes them so perfect, especially when you have the salted butter at room temperature, ready to go on them as soon as they’re done. I will be starting my own food blog in the Spring and would eventually love to include an adapted version of this recipe. Will let you know before-hand. Thanks again.

  • bnettia

    made these more than one time.. my family loved them. i used plain flour and bread flour. they were both out of the world good….. love this site

  • Kyo

    oh.my.word
    this is a must try!

  • I just made this sweet manna from heaven. Thanks for sharing. My family for generations has started to thank you.

  • Panita

    today i made this and the dough was very wet, so i have to add more flour into the dough about like 20 more tablespoons…but the result still soft and tender inside.,,, i just wanna ask how did yours look like when it was kneading in the machine? did it really come to a “dough” cuz mine didnt. thank you!

  • Panita

    another question…did you use pyrex cup to measure the flour? if yes i guess i know why now cuz i use measure cup for dry ingredient to measure the flour instead of pyrex cup….hehehe…some misunderstanding..sorry
    but the rolls were great! seriously!

  • These look beautiful! I love tearing steaming, fresh-baked dough :)

  • Rhena Melancon

    These rolls are also #1 with me, just as the Amish bread is!!! Could this roll recipe be used as bread recipe? Just wondering!!!!!!! Thanks and have a Blessed Day, Rhena

  • KT

    These rolls are the absolute greatest! I make them all the time. So fluffy, so yummy! this is a treasure. Thank you so much for sharing this great recipe!

  • Angel from the Bay Area USA

    I tried this recipe as a Trial two days prior to Thanksgiving. My family is really going to love these little fluffy gems instead of that garbage store bought junk I used to buy each year. Thank you for sharing. I will start our New Thanksgiving Tradition with these dinner rolls as the main attraction (in my mind) This is a must try if you have NOT tried them yet. A MUST once you go scratch You don’t go back.

  • Fifi

    I accidentally opened rapid rise yeast so I hurried to find a rapid rise roll recipe. After I had it to the point to add yeast I realized the yeast wasn’t fresh so I added regular yeast with the warm water and the rolls turned out delicious. I proofed them at 110 degrees and the time was the same as for rapid rise. I like that they don’t have eggs and lots of sugar and they were so easy to make. Thanks for the precise instructions. This is a definite keeper.

  • chef sandy

    I made these from the youtube vid. Best rolls I’ve ever had. Thank you so much.

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