The story begins on a farm. We called it ‘the fat farm’. It was the place we went every Thanksgiving when I was growing up. The enticing aromas of roasting turkey, cooking potatoes, and yeast greeted you as soon as you walked in the door. Soon after, you were enveloped in a hug so tight you could barely breathe!
I would hang up my coat in the closet and follow the other ladies in my family to the kitchen. There, I would help form the Parker House rolls and get them into the oven. The rolls cooked while the turkey was resting and the gravy was being made. As soon as they came out of the oven, they were lovingly coated in salted butter. These were the best rolls on the planet and they were made by my Great Grandma Minnie.
Grandma Minnie passed away in 2007 at the age of 102. She cooked Thanksgiving dinner for her family for over 50 years in a row. Imagine that! I tried to learn how to make rolls from her, but she never measured anything. If you asked her for a recipe, she couldn’t give you one. She could tell you what was in the food, but couldn’t tell you how much.
“How much flour should I add, Grandma?”
“Enough so that it feels right.”
Ha ha! I miss her so much. Well, today I ran across a recipe on the Martha Stewart website and decided to try it. I read through the recipe, gathered the ingredients, and put everything together. What came out of the oven tasted just like Great Grandma Minnie’s rolls! Hooray! I will confess– I messed up on the recipe but it turned out wonderful! So, here is my recipe for Thanksgiving Dinner Rolls, Great Grandma Minnie style (adapted from Martha Stewart).
Thanksgiving Dinner Rolls
Great Grandma Minnie Style
1/4 cup warm water (115 degrees F)
2 tsp rapid rise yeast (2 envelopes)
1-1/2 cups warm whole milk (115 degrees F)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the bowl and pans
1/4 cup sugar
2-1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
3 cups bread flour
3-1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 Tbsp salted butter, melted
1. Place warm water in a small bowl with a little bit of the sugar (1 tsp). Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. In the bowl of a standing mixer or in a large bowl, whisk together the milk, butter, remaining sugar, salt and the eggs. Whisk in the yeast mixture.
2. With the mixer on low or with a large wooden spoon, mix in the 3 cups of bread flour. If using a mixer, give it a good whirl, then switch the whisk attachment to a dough hook. With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the remaining 3-1/2 cups all purpose flour a little at a time. The resulting dough should be a little shaggy. You can also do this my hand with a large wooden spoon, but the mixer is a lot easier! Once all the flour is incorporated, let the dough rest for about 10 minutes.
3. Mix on medium speed for 6 minutes. Turn it out onto a lightly floured counter and knead for another 2 minutes. If kneading by hand, knead it on a lightly floured counter for 5 to 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Form into a large ball.
4. Coat a large bowl with melted unsalted butter. Place the large ball of dough in the bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until doubled in size.
5. Butter two 13×9″ pans. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Deflate the dough by gently pushing it down and turning it over in the bowl. Pinch off golf-ball-sized pieces and make into balls. Place the balls of dough in the pan, 3 across and 5 long so each pan holds 15 rolls. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Put the oven racks in the bottom third and top third of the oven. When the rolls are done rising, remove the plastic wrap and place one pan on the bottom rack and one pan on the top rack. Cook for 10 minutes, rotate the pans top to bottom, back to front, and continue to cook for another 10 minutes or until evenly golden brown.
7. Remove from oven and place the pan on cooling racks. Lightly brush with salted butter and allow to cool. After 10 minutes, remove the rolls from the pans and allow to cool completely on the cooling rack. These rolls are HEAVENLY when devoured while still warm with fresh melted butter.
Love you and miss you, Great Grandma Minnie!