Well, I am finally getting around to writing up the recipe for these dinner rolls. My Aunt Mary sent me the recipe via email a few years ago, and it has taken me some time to get the method down, but I think the rolls turn out pretty well these days, and I don't need to look at the recipe anymore when I make them...
The recipe as it is written is a little vague, so I will add my experience/methods as we go. It may look like a long ordeal, but it is really just my explanation of the process. Go ahead, read it through, and try it!
2 packages of yeast
1/4 - 1/2 cup of sugar
2 cups of scalded milk
1/3 cup butter
2 tsp salt
5-7 cups of flour (this wasn't included in the recipe, I had to do a little research...)
Directions (as I follow them...):
Add the 1/3 cup of butter (which is 5 1/3 Tbsp) to the two cups of milk and heat in the microwave until warm, and butter is almost melted. **I use my microwave save measuring cup, but this could easily be done in a pan on the stove top as well.**
While that is heating, add the sugar and yeast to a large mixing bowl. **If I am making cinnamon rolls, or dough for fried dough, I will add the full 1/2 cup of sugar, but for dinner rolls I usually go somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3 cup of sugar.**
Add warmed milk and butter to the sugar and yeast, mixing well (I use a nice wooden spoon - I suppose you could use a mixer, but why?) to dissolve yeast. Let sit for a few minutes to allow the yeast to activate and foam (also known as "proofing").
When the yeast mixture is foamy, add 2 cups of the flour and mix quickly until it is smooth. This helps create the gluten in the dough and gets the yeast distributed.
Add the salt with the next 1-2 cups of flour and mix well. Continue adding the flour until the dough won't accept any more. **This is the part I had to learn by doing. If the day is more humid, the dough will take in more flour...** But on average, the dough will take around 5 cups of flour.
After the flour has been added, place the dough on a floured surface and knead for 5-8 minutes until the dough is smooth and just slightly tacky - not sticky. Kneading is simply taking the front edge of the dough, folding it away from you and, using the heel of your hand, push it away. Rotate the dough 1/4 turn, fold and push away. As you knead, you may add more flour to keep the dough workable. **I would recommend kneading by hand, because it is therapeutic and fun! So even if you used a mixer for the beginning, use your hands for this part!** :)
When the dough is thoroughly kneaded, roll it into a ball. Put some oil in your mixing bowl and spread it around. Then place the dough in the bowl, turning it to coat with the oil. Place a damp kitchen towel over the bowl and put the bowl in a warm spot to rise for about an hour. **I turn my oven on the lowest setting 170 degrees for a few minutes, then turn it off before I place the covered dough in it to rise.**
Depending on the amount of flour added, I get 24-30 rolls from this recipe.
Once the rolls are all formed, cover them with a towel and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes. **Here is where I preheat the oven to 420 degrees and set the rolls on the stove for a warm place to rise.**
If you want the rolls to have a shiny surface, you can brush the tops with an egg wash just before baking. Then place the rolls in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the tops are nicely browned. As soon as they come out of the oven, brush the tops with butter, letting it melt over and in as they cool. **you could also add salt or sesame seeds, or other toppings at this point for some variety.**
While they are still warm, you should test at least one to make sure they taste good enough to share!
**For cinnamon rolls:
Instead of forming into rolls, divide the dough in half, setting one half aside. Roll the first half into a triangle, approximately 12 x 8 inches. Spread the surface with softened butter leaving about an inch of one of the long edges "clear." Then sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over the butter **I use brown sugar with white sugar.**
Starting at the long buttered edge, roll the dough fairly tightly into a log. Some of the cinnamon and sugar may fall out of the end, but that's okay.
Slice the log into twelve equal pieces. These are your rolls. Place them in a greased 9x13 pan (again you will need two pans) and then repeat the process with the second half of the dough. Let it rise in a warm place for 30 minutes, while your oven preheats, and bake for 20 minutes at 420 degrees.
You could glaze these with a confectioner's sugar glaze or a cream cheese icing for extra yum!