If I had lived in the early to mid 1900s or even before, I'm sure I would've made dinner rolls and homemade bread much more often than I do now. Perhaps daily, but most certainly weekly, as my mom continues to do! The kneading of the dough, the smell of the yeast, the softness of the flour, the time that it takes. . . all things that are appealing to me. I mean, really, I could go for a good massage (the kneading), a good glass of wine (the smell of yeast), and the time that it takes to do THOSE things! However, with stores such as Great Harvest or our local House of Bread grinding their own wheat and doing all the work for me, I find it so much more convenient to purchase from them on a daily/weekly basis, supporting their business, still enjoying the goodness, and arrive at my other obligations relaxed, at least SEMI-relaxed, with no flour on my nose. With three teenagers and their schedules to chauffeur around, House of Bread is a blessing to us!
At the holidays, though, for some reason, I always make my own rolls. It just seems like the right thing to do. My grandma did it, my mom did it, and now I do it. Maybe my girls will do it someday, too. Alyson LOVES to play in dough! Some years, I make them even a month ahead of time, bake them till they're just barely brown and freeze them till the big day. I put them in those handy 9 x 13 pans from GladWare that can go in the freezer AND the oven, and all I have to do is take them out the morning of the holiday and by the time I need to heat them for dinner, they are thawed! Don't try to start them on Thanksgiving morning. . . you won't get dinner until 8 PM, what with making the rolls and turkey and casseroles and all! (Stay tuned for my Thanksgiving count-down schedule.)
So, the motivation for this post is our dinner conversation this evening. I'm not sure who mentioned rolls first, but Ben said, "Can you make those little round ones again?" He was referring to the ones that didn't rise well one year! But HE loved them and popped them all day on that Thanksgiving!
Ken chimed in with, "So what do these rolls look like? Are they the Pillsbury ones?" Ok, so talk about offended!
"No," I said, "They AREN'T the Pillsbury ones, but rather the ones that I make FROM SCRATCH!"
"Oh." (in a disappointed sort of tone!) "Are they the ones that really crumble?" he said.
"What?! Crumble?! Of course not! They are fabulous yeast rolls that you rave about year after year! Don't you remember?!" (Yes, the question marks and exclamation marks indicate a raised voice!)
"Well, I'm thinking about the ones that look sort of like Oatmeal Cookies before you bake them. . . that's not the ones?"
"No, honey. Those are the Drop Biscuits I make to go with Beef Stew when I don't have time in between my chauffeuring duties to roll out the dough and make them nice and neat." (Now using a calmer, more calculated voice.)
"Oh, yeah. . . the beef stew. So, these rolls aren't Pillsbury? You don't knock them on the counter to open them?"
Oh my word. . . I just gave up at that point. I figured that if it was good enough for them to not complain about how horrid they were, that they must have been pretty good to start with.
So, the recipe I have, which I got from Mom, which SHE got from someone in some church somewhere down south or somewhere (does all that REALLY matter?!), is for a potato dough. It's called Edna Ruth Byler's Potato Dough Baked Goods. I guess that means she got it from Edna Ruth Byler, huh? Don't know her! I also have my Mama Trudy's recipe, (Mama Trudy is my dad's mom) but I could never get it to be just like hers! She had the special knack with her special recipe and they were fabulous!
I'm not sure what the purpose of putting potatoes in the recipe is, unless it was simply a matter of need. Perhaps a distant relative in Idaho had an abundance of the white root veggies and needed to use them somehow. (Did you know they make a potato ICE CREAM in Idaho?! Yeah, crazy spud-heads!) So, anyway, here's the recipe in case you are interested in trying it yourself. Be prepared for a large amount of dough! I use my 6-quart KitchenAid and it rocks the house when it's mixing! We turn up the stereo! Feel free to halve the quantities. . . and make cinnamon rolls, too, to freeze for Christmas morning!
EDNA RUTH BYLER'S POTATO DOUGH BAKED GOODS (makes 100—yeah, you read right!) doughnuts or rolls; 375˚ fat/400˚ oven) It's named 'Baked GOODS' because it makes s' dang many!)
3 pkg. dry yeast (1 pkg = 2 ¼ t. so a total of 6 ¾ t. if you are not using packages) in 1 c. lukewarm water (Lukewarm water in this case means that it feels about the same temperature that you would make a baby's bottle. If you don't know what that is, it's your body temperature with a fever! Adjust the water temperature until it matches your body temperature, then make it just a touch warmer.)
Mix in a large bowl:
- 1 quart scalded milk
- 2 c. mashed potatoes (no milk added)
- 1 c. butter
- 1 c. sugar
Let cool to lukewarm, then add:
- yeast mixture
- 6 c. flour
Let stand until mixture foams up (about 20 minutes).
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 T. salt
- 11-12 c. additional flour
A little more flour may be needed, but dough should be soft. Turn out on floured board and knead until satiny. (Or use mixer and turn up the stereo.) Let rise in a warm place until double in bulk.
Doughnuts: Roll out dough, cut doughnuts, place on trays and let rise until not quite double. Fry in hot shortening.
Cinnamon rolls: Roll out and cover with butter, cinnamon and sugar. (Don't ask for specific amounts! Just do it till it feels like it will taste good!) Cut (you can use dental floss for a clean cut or a chef's knife for a smushed cut) and let rise in a warm place until nearly double and bake for 15-20 minutes. (I'm sure one of these days there will be a post about Aunt Margie's Cinnamon Rolls!)
Sticky Buns, dinner rolls, and coffee cake can be made, if desired. Heck, with this much dough, you could even decorate the Christmas tree!
To Freeze: let them cool, wrap or place in plastic bags before putting in the freezer.
Glaze for doughnuts, cinnamon rolls. . .
- 1 lb. powdered sugar
- 1 T. butter
- 1 t. vanilla
- Enough milk to make a thin icing (takes less than you think!)
Enjoy enough baked goods to last the two holidays!