As it turns out, there are lots of different kinds of dinner rolls. There are light and fluffy ones, flaky ones, enormous ones…The list could go on, of course. But let’s get to business. These dinner rolls are the kind of dinner rolls that stick to your ribs and fill your belly. They are dense and bread-y, but not in a hard-as-a-rock way. They’re definitely more of a wow-I-could-eat-the-whole-pan-but-there-are-7-cups-of-flour-in-there way. Yeah…I said 7 cups of flour. That’s a lot, right?!? But if you read the title of the post, you know these are for Thanksgiving and I’ve heard calories don’t count on Thanksgiving so we’re good. *Fact: My last statement was definitely NOT a fact. Calories, do, indeed count on Thanksgiving but shhhh…no one has to know.*
One of the reasons I love these dinner rolls so much are that they came from Travis’ grandma, who, you guessed it…made them at Thanksgiving (and basically every holiday). It’s definitely a most delicious tradition to keep alive for many future generations if you ask me. As soon as Travis took a bite of one of these rolls, he went quiet except for the, “These rolls are so good” interjection. I’ll take that as a win for me for following a recipe well. However, I must say this process was not without help from my mother-in-law and Travis’ grandma for advice, of course. There may have been a few calls/texts involved. We got there. And the dinner rolls turned out wonderful!
Funny story about these rolls…one time a few years back my brother-in-law unknowingly said to his grandma that he would’t need the recipe for her rolls since they were store-bought. Even after 20-some years of eating grandma’s beloved rolls, he was sure they had to come from the store because “they were so perfect” (that might be a paraphrase, but you get the point). Needless to say, he was quickly corrected and I’m pretty sure his appreciation of his grandma’s rolls grew even more. I’m also sure he won’t make that mistake again.
I know we’re a couple weeks out from Thanksgiving. There is a WHOLE lot to do on Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving Eve (if that’s a thing). One great part about these rolls is you can take them out of the oven, cool them and freeze them. Then a day or so before Thanksgiving, defrost them, stick them in a warm oven for a few minutes to heat them up then brush the melted butter on top. So make them now and have them ready to go for Thanksgiving! Win, win!
- 1 1/2 cups warm water (105-115 degrees Fahrenheit)
- 4 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 1 package active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 7 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 1 cup milk
- 3 tablespoons shortening
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons melted butter, to brush on top
- In a large bowl, combine warm water, 2 tablespoons sugar, and package of yeast. Stir in 2 cups of the flour, until the mixture is smooth. Let rise about 1 hour. The mixture should appear light and spongy when it's done rising.
- While the sponge mixture is rising, scald the milk in a saucepan over medium heat (until tiny bubbles just begin to form on the outside rim). Remove from heat and add shortening, salt, and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Stir until the shortening melts. Let cool to room temperature.
- Once the sponge has risen, stir the milk mixture into the sponge. Stir in the remaining 5 cups of flour until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 8-10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
- Place in a greased bowl and brush dough with oil or shortening. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
- Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 24 pieces (yes, this takes a little math planning. You can do it!). Shape each piece into a ball. Place all the dough balls in a greased 9x13 metal cake pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about another hour.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Bake rolls for 20-25 minutes, until they are golden brown on top and sound hollow when you tap on the top.
- Brush the tops of rolls with melted butter as soon as they come out of the oven.
- Serve warm.
- If the rolls are getting too brown on top but don't seem done, you can cover them with aluminum foil and continue baking until they are cooked through.