I love spicy people. The people who are sassy, flamboyant and unapologetic. Sometimes I'm spicy. Sometimes I'm not. I think we all have spice in us but you know what I'm talking about - there are those that are just loud, or just do things their own way and don't care what anyone thinks of them. Their confidence is contagious.
My grandmother is one of those "always spicy" people. For example she used to fling these rolls across the table at us as soon as they came out of the oven. So like, picture us, all of us sitting down to a noisy but still beautifully set dinner at a grand dining room table with a crystal chandelier above our heads and then here's grandma coming in from the kitchen after the start of the meal yelling, "WHO WANTS A HOT ROLL?!" and then she'd throw them to raised hands.
And I'm not kidding those things were so hot we had to drop them as soon as we caught them.
Those big dinners don't happen anymore. Grandma doesn't make these rolls anymore. I hate change sometimes.
ANYWAY, not to be all sad on ya, but these rolls ignite awesome memories: flying rolls, dodging rolls, grandpa asking for the boysenberry jam. The little kids stealing rolls off of the adults plates. Opening the roll and having visible steam escape. Asking people to pass the butter for the 100th millionth time until you just had to get up out of your seat and grab it yourself. Stashing rolls to be saved for tomorrow.
The rolls were endless. Seriously grandma always made SO MANY rolls that we never had to worry that we wouldn't get our fill.
And I never appreciated how much work went into making them until I had a go at it.
I made these rolls for my grandmother recently and she kindly said they were better than hers. They weren't. There's still a few tweaks and secrets I'm trying to master but I'm close. I've tried to soak up all I can from her when it comes to learning how to make these babies because I so badly want to be like her and have my family look forward to these when they come over for dinner. She seriously made them so perfectly.
This recipe has been passed on forever and I'm gonna continue that tradition.
I always think of my great grandmother Eva and great great grandmother Olive when I start kneading the dough. I feel proud to come from an amazing line of strong, baking, Danish women. Fun fact: I almost named my blog Olive and Eva and/or Danish but settled on Sweetish instead. I can't tell you how many times I go back and forth wondering if I made the right choice. Names are HARD!
Anyway I'm so happy to share these rolls with you here. Make them whenever - but if you can - try to throw at least one across the table to someone you love. They really are so much better that way.
grandma's dinner rolls
yields about 4 dozen rolls | Robyn Holland | Sweetish.co
Once baked, I absolutely adore serving these with soft salted butter and boysenberry jam - my late grandpa’s favorite way to eat them. Also please read the notes and recipe ALL the way through before attempting to make these. I'm here for you. xo
bakers note: Make sure the melted butter you paint on your rolls right before they go into the oven is COOL. If you paint hot butter on the rolls they will deflate, and it will be a very very sad moment. I used parchment paper this time to bake my rolls and I wasn't thrilled with the outcome because it made the bottoms of the rolls soft. My grandma always made these rolls by putting them directly on a buttered sheet pan to get the bottoms of the rolls more sturdy and I really love them that way. Some people preferred the parchment paper method yielding the soft bottoms, but me, I prefer a slightly tougher bottom.
1 cup / 2 sticks / 227g organic, unsalted butter, softened (plus a few tablespoons more for buttering your rising bowl and hands when forming the rolls)
¾ cup / 150g sugar
2 teaspoons medium- grainkosher salt
1 cup / 250ml boiling water
2 packages of dry yeast (or 4 ½ teaspoons)
½ cup / 125ml lukewarm water (lukewarm water should be very hard to “feel”, it should feel close to the temperature of your body.)
4 large, organic eggs, lightly beaten
7 ½ cups / 938g organic, all-purpose four (see note)
2 tablespoons dry, non-fat milk powder (optional, but awesome)
1 cup / 250ml cold water
melted butter for painting on baked rolls + fine sea salt for sprinkling, both optional
In an electric mixer, cream together the butte and sugar until fluffy and combined. About 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the cup of boiling water to the butter + sugar + salt mixture and watch your fluffy butter mixture melt down. Don’t panic, that’s supposed to happen. Let it sit for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, stir yeast into lukewarm water until slightly incorporated. The yeast won’t disappear completely, but will look wet and slightly bubbly. If your yeast doesn't bubble, you either added water that was too hot or your yeast is old. Try it again, because you really do need fresh yeast for this.
tip! Measure your flour into a separate bowl, using the “scoop and spoon” method. Meaning, scoop your four and “spoon” it into your measuring cup, don’t use your actual measuring cup as vehicle for scooping up your flour. Does that make sense? Really, if you want the most accurate measurements weigh your flour (and all of your ingredients)!
Add lukewarm water + yeast mixture into slightly cooled butter + water
Mix slightly and slowly.
Add lightly beaten eggs.
NOTE: You can change your electric mixer fixture to the “dough hook”
at this point, but the regular “spatula” mixer fixture works great, and is
usually the route I take.
Add flour, and cold water slowly, a cup at a time, alternating the flour and the cold water. Add the water and flour while the mixture is slowly mixing - about 1/4 to 1/2 a cup at a time.
Mix until a large dough ball forms - don't over mix it. The dough should just come together. NOTE: If this is too much dough for a little mixer to handle, take the dough out and knead in the rest of the flour in by hand.
Dough will be slightly sticky. If your mixer can handle this much dough, take the dough ball out and knead it a couple times through (no more than 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until dough comes together and is no longer wet, but just slightly sticky) folding and pressing down on a floured surface.
Put dough ball into a very large, buttered bowl. If you’re making the rolls for the day-of, cover with a clean cloth or dishtowel and set in a cozy place free from a draft until dough doubles in size (anywhere from 2 to 4 hours). OR if you’d like to make rolls for the next day, this dough works beautifully covered in a buttered, very large, air-tight container left in the refrigerator overnight OR for as long as 2 days.
Once dough has risen, knead it a few more times (no more than 30 seconds to 1 minute) on a clean floured surface. Dough should appear smooth.
Preheat oven to 350° F / 180° C. Line 4 to 5 baking sheets with parchment paper or grease your baking sheets directly with softened butter. See note at the beginning of the recipe about soft vs. crispy bottoms.
Butter your hands with softened butter and form dough balls. You form the balls by almost folding the dough over itself. It’s kind of like kneading each individual little dough ball to form a smooth roll. You turn the dough inside out and inside out about 2-3 times until you get a perfect little ball.
NOTE: If this ball forming method is too stressful, roll the dough out on a floured surface with a rolling pin, until the dough reaches ¼” in thickness. Brush dough with melted butter and cut with a round cookie cutter and fold in half. Place the rolls on the parchment lined cookie sheets, spacing them 1 to 2 inches apart, keeping in mind that they almost double in size when rising for a second time.
Allow to rise for at least 2 hours. (3-4 hours seems to be the sweet spot for me).
Brush risen dough balls with cooled (make sure the butter is cool my friend, see bakers note above) melted butter right before placing them in the oven. This will help them brown.
Bake at 350° F / 180° C for 10 to 15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Brush more melted butter on top with a tiny sprinkle of fine fine sea salt.
Serve rolls almost immediately, warm with butter and jam. Serving them thrown, is encouraged.
I painted my rolls with melted butter and tiny sprinkle of salt right after they came out of the oven.
more bakers notes:
- This recipe, while super simple, does require different measurements of water held at obnoxiously different temperatures. That sounds a bit more tricky than it really is, and I’ve wondered if all of the various temperatures are really worth it here, but man, great grandma must know what she’s talking about because these babies turn out perfect every time, obnoxious water temperatures and all.
- The second proof is key here in getting the rolls the right texture. (The second proof is the time the rolls rise for the second time when they're in their little dough ball form.) I was running out of time so I rushed the process a little bit here. I would say allow yourself at least 3-4 hours for the second proof.
- Very soft, room temperature butter really makes a difference here too for greasing your hands when you form the little dough balls. Don't skip this
- My secret ingredient is dry non-fat milk powder. It may seem like it doesn’t do much, but to me, it yields a more tender roll. Totally totally optional though. Grandma didn't use this.
To me, a good organic, all-purpose four is a MUST here. I’m a big fan of Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose four and King Arthur flour. OR if you find a good local, unbleached all purpose flour please use that!! :D
The beautiful stainless steel pot holding the melted butter is by: Made in Cookware. They're beautiful American-made brand that's affordable. I'm a little bit obsessed with mine and use it almost every day. For my exact pan click here. When shopping for these please go for the stainless steel pots as they really are better for us - not only to cook in but for our health as well.