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Make 'easy, good' rolls in less than 2 hours

Easy, festive appetizers and side dishes have seeded this blog and my podcasts in the run-up to Thanksgiving.

Baked goods, not so much. I’ve been known to handle almost every aspect of a holiday feast for a dozen or more diners. But when guests ask what they can bring, I usually say bread or rolls. Or wine or beer!

Last spring, shortly before Easter, though, a friend who was cooking for a crowd asked me if I had a good recipe for bread or rolls. Not this non-baker. I did offer the following recipe, however, which has “good” and “easy” right in the title.

It comes from Seattle Times food writer Bethany Jean Clement, whose aunt Edith was the family matriarch and “magical” cook. Her recipe, written on an index card, indicated to “start about 4:15 for 6 o’clock dinner.” The original version calls for shortening instead of olive oil, and Clement halved the traditional amount of sugar.

Edith Gunning’s Good + Easy Dinner Rolls

1 packet yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons or, in Aunt Edith’s era, 1 cake)

1/4 cup lukewarm water

1/2 cup warm milk

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg

2 1/4 cups flour

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients, in order (give it a stir after the milk to get the yeast thinking, then after the egg to combine).

Beat with a spoon until glossy (if it gets sticky, you can use your hands to knead gently).

Let rise (in a warm place, covered with a clean dish towel) until double in bulk, for about 1 hour.

Stir down and divide into buttered muffin tin — grease fingers and roll smooth off spoon. (To get them all the same-ish size, pull the dough in half, then divide each half in 2 again, then into thirds for 12 rolls. If you want to get fancy, you can divide each individual roll-ball into thirds and nest them together in the muffin-tin compartment, so each roll pulls apart into three lobes when eaten.)

Let rise again for about half an hour to top of muffin cups.

Brush tops with melted butter. (Here, Aunt Edith offers a forgiving parenthetical: “I don’t bother.”) Bake at 375 F for 10 to 15 minutes. (Serve warm with lots of butter!)

Makes 12 large or 16 small rolls.

Tribune News Service photo