Nothing tastes better than fresh, homemade, dinner rolls for Thanksgiving or Christmas, amiright??? My Grandma Laura was always the one in charge of bringing dinner rolls to our family feasts because they were just.so.yummy!!!
These rolls were originally her sister’s, my great-aunt Mary Louise, but we always dubbed them “Grandma’s Rolls”. I think every time we had family feasts, one of us always asked “Is Grandma bringing her rolls?” Followed by a chorus of “yessssss” when Mamma would answer in the affirmative, lol. They sure made an impression.
These rolls are fairly simple to make, and oh so worth it! Canned/store-bought rolls are convenient, but nothin’ beats homemade. And, I’ve put a tip at the end of the recipe so you can make them ahead of time so your day-of preparations aren’t as hectic.
Happy baking and Happy Thanksgiving, my Friends!!!
Aunt Mary Louise’s Crescent Rolls
(Yields 64 Small Dinner Rolls)
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- 2 cups Milk, scalded (474 mls)
- ½ cup white granulated Sugar (100 grams)
- 2 tsp Salt (14 grams)
- ½ cup lukewarm Water (110-115 degrees Fahrenheit) (118 mls)
- 1 ½ TBSP Yeast (5 grams) or 2 packets
- 2 Eggs + 1 Egg Yolk, beaten
- ½ cup Butter, softened (113 grams) + ¼-½ cup for buttering
- 7-9 cups All Purpose Flour (700-900 grams)
In a medium sauce pan, add your milk, sugar, and salt. Heat up the milk, stirring frequently, until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Make sure it doesn’t boil!
Let the milk mixture cool down—it should be somewhere in the 110-115 degrees Fahrenheit range so that it doesn’t kill the yeast. If it’s winter time, you can always set the pan outside in the cold to help cool it down faster.
In a small bowl or mug, add your warm water and yeast and whisk it with a fork. Set it aside, and let the yeast activate for 5-10 minutes.
Once the milk has cooled down, pour it into your stand mixer (if you’re using one). Add the beaten eggs and frothy water/yeast mixture. Whisk it up, and add 3 initial cups of flour (about 450 grams).
Whisk it on high until there are no lumps and is sponge-like. Next, plop dollops of ½ a cup of soft butter (I do 1-2 TBSP at a time), continuing to mix it on high.
When the butter is well incorporated, switch to a dough hook, and add your remaining 5-6 cups of flour. Add the last couple cups slowly to make sure that you don’t add too much (unfortunately, it’s not an exact science because everyone’s measuring cups and scales are different, the size of their eggs are different, and the brands of flour are different). I almost always end up adding closer to 5 cups of additional flour to my mixture, but Aunt Mary’s recipe calls for 6 cups, so just use your best judgement. It should be a little bit of a stickier dough.
Once the flour is fully mixed, knead it for about 2 minutes. Aunt Mary’s notes say, “don’t knead it long”. The longer you knead it, the stickier it will get, and the more flour you’ll want to add, so, keep it short.
Place the dough in a well-greased bowl, cover it with plastic wrap or a tea towel, and let it rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until it’s doubled in size. ***See my note below for the freezing option at this point***!
Once the dough has fully risen, punch it down and divide it into 4 equal parts. This is when I preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll each part out into a circle that’s about 12 inches in diameter. Butter the surface of the rolled-out dough with the remaining softened butter.
Using a knife or pizza wheel, cut it into wedges. I like to cut each of my circles into 16 wedges, making 64 rolls total for this recipe.
Starting on the fatter end of the wedge, gently roll up each slice into a crescent shape.
Place them on a greased cookie sheet (these are my favorite!), making sure that the tail of the roll is on the underside so it’s less likely to pop out as it bakes—though it still happens to me sometimes. You’ll want them to be spaced about 1-2 inches apart.
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes, or until they are a beautiful, very light golden-brown color.
Remove them from the oven and let them cool on cooling racks. They are best if they’re served warm, with more butter, of course. ?
If you are planner-a-header and you have a lot of other sides and dishes to make for your dinner parties and feasts, these rolls are one thing you can mostly make ahead of time. I’ve made them as many as 3-4 weeks ahead of time, and they still turn out just beautifully on the day of baking.
Follow the recipe above until you get to the part where you let it rise. At this point, skip the rise and jump right to shaping the crescent rolls. So, just divide the unrisen dough into 4, roll each part into a 12” diameter circle, butter, and cut into wedges. Roll your crescents and place them on a greased cookie sheet. They don’t have to be spaced out.
Stick the cookie sheet into the freezer for a couple of hours. Once the rolls are hard, pop them off the cookie sheet and put them into a Ziplock freezer bag. Try to get as much air out of the bag as you can, and put them back in the freezer to use later.
On the day you want to bake them, just pull them out of the freezer about 4 hours before your feast. Spread them out evenly on greased cookie sheets (make sure to give them an inch or 2 of space this time so that they have room to rise properly). Place the pans in a warm place, and let them thaw (I like to cover them lightly with plastic wrap so they don’t dry out). They’ll start to rise once they’ve warmed up enough. When they are almost doubled in size, plop them into a preheated oven, just like above. Bake them at 350 Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes. And voila! Fresh, baked dinner rolls!