The Gentleman’s Sweet Roll Dough – for the softest pillow of a dinner roll you’ve ever had

Fluffy pillows of beautiful yeast dough.

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

I am in the minority here, but I am not a big bread eater. I know, I know, shut up, etcetera. I know some ladies very close to me who can mow down some french loaf like they’re going to the electric chair. I shan’t name names.

I have one exception. My Mawmaw used to make these insane yeast rolls when I was a kid. Despite her continually worsening Rheumatoid Arthritis, she made these rolls for every family gathering.

As I got older and took on the challenge myself, I realized that there was no way in hell she was following that recipe from the old Betty Crocker cookbook that this recipe supposedly came from. No possible way. To the laboratory!

I know she used butter flavor Crisco. Crisco, are you my sponsor yet? The bill is on the way. After a few years of meddling with it, this is the closest I have come. This asks for 1/2 cup of sugar; if you’re making a true sweet roll (like cinnamon), up that to 2/3 cup.

This is the basic recipe that makes delicious, buttery rolls, but there will be many more recipes to follow for which this is the base.

Diametrically opposed fat sources.

What you need:

  • 5 teaspoons dry yeast
  • 2  teaspoons sugar
  • ½ cup water, at exactly 115 degrees
  • ½ cup lukewarm milk, scalded then cooled*
  • ½ cup sugar (yes, more, it makes more sense to write it this way)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup butter flavor Crisco
  • 1/3 cup good quality butter, softened
  • approximately 3 ½ cups all purpose flour**

*Put milk in a sauce pan. Whisk and gradually bring just to a boil. Turn heat off.

**Air moisture makes a difference; high humidity areas will require a touch more flour. 

Dissolve the yeast with the 2 tablespoons of sugar in 115 degree water. It will foam up.

Add scalded milk, remaining sugar, salt, eggs, shortening, and butter.

In the bowl of a mixer, using the hook attachment, add 2 ½ cups of flour. Beat into a soft ball. Add remaining flour. Dough should be an easy to handle but slightly damp ball.

Flour a board, a piece of stone or other hard flat surface. Put the dough ball on the floured surface and knead, knead, knead until it’s elastic. You are going to have to put some muscle into it. It will take 5 minutes. Consider this your exercise.

Spray cooking spray in a decent size bowl. Hopefully your dough is a pretty, even ball. Put the ball into the greased bowl; cover with a towel and place in a warm location.

Allow the dough to rise to at least double – an hour and a half at least. Longer is better.  But you’ll know it’s ready when you can smash your thumb into it and the print remains.

Punch down the dough. Shape into desired shapes or sweet rolls. Allow to rise again, covered, at least half an hour. It should expand to about 2/3 of its original size.

For traditional rolls, brush with butter and salt the tops judiciously.

Bake in a 400 degree oven. Start checking at 10 minutes. You will likely need to rotate them in the oven. Bake till just brown – don’t overcook.

Here’s the printable PDF: The Gentleman’s Sweet Roll Dough

Now, butter one up and stuff your face!

Happy carb loading.


The Gentleman Caller

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