My grandma’s sister, Annice, made the most delicious dinner rolls. Every once in awhile, she would surprise us with a dozen or so – which we would devour in minutes. These rolls were truly perfect. Light, fluffy, super soft, slightly sweet, and melt-in-your-mouth. She spent years – decades – perfecting her recipe and technique.
I was thrilled when Annice’s daughter, Sonya, shared this recipe with me. In her words:
“Your mom mentioned that you would like my mother’s bun recipe. I would be happy to share it. I enjoyed looking back at her recipes, with her handwriting. As you may remember, she had very poor eyesight. She had written all of her favorite recipes in large print, and had them filed in folders – breads, hot dishes, salads, desserts, etc. She was able to follow them pretty much up until she moved out of her home. She and her sisters were amazing, weren’t they? You come from good genes, Haley.”
My grandma passed away in 2005, and Annice a few years later. Today, I enjoy spending time in the kitchen making their recipes, reading the notes they scribbled on the recipe card, imagining them making modifications along the way that truly gave their dishes “made with love” status.
Perfect Dinner Rolls Recipe
The rising times are somewhat flexible. The original recipe is called "overnight buns", because the final rising time is intended to take place overnight. However, you can eye-ball it. Just keep checking the dough as it rises. You'll be able to tell when it doubles in size.
1 package yeast (1/4 ounce or 2 1/4 teaspoons - I used Red Star Quick Rise yeast)
1/2 cup warm water (110F to 115F)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup lard or Crisco
2 cups water
2 beaten eggs, room temperature
1 scant cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
6-7 cups all-purpose flour, or enough to make a soft dough
In a glass mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add sugar. Wait about 5 minutes, or until foam appears.
In a microwaveable bowl, melt lard. Remove, add 2 cups of water, and stir well. Add yeast mixture. Add eggs, sugar, salt, and about half of the flour. Continue adding the remaining flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well each time. You want the dough to be slightly sticky but easy to work with.
Move dough to a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes. Place dough in a bowl sprayed with non-stick cooking spray or oil. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm location until dough doubles in size, 1 to 3 hours depending on the yeast you choose (read package directions). Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down. Re-cover the bowl and let it rise again in a warm place for 1 to 3 hours.
Place dough on a floured surface and knead for a minute or so. Take a golf ball-sized piece of dough and make a smooth circle out of it, folding the edges underneath so the top is smooth. Place dough balls evenly spaced on a greased baking sheet. Allow a little space between each dough ball. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot for at least an hour or overnight.
Preheat oven to 375F. Bake uncovered for about 15 minutes. Watch closely to avoid over-baking or burning.
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