Memaw’s Yeast Rolls

From Cara Tillman

[Ed: Cara, who’s making soup on March 3, brought whipped these up from her grandmother’s recipe on a whim last week. Says she, “They’re based on a basic bread recipe that southern cooks have been making for many years, and they can be tweaked to suit different dietary needs and preferences. Last week, I did not use milk or butter in the rolls, I just used a bit more water and vegetable oil instead.” Unfortunately they were scarfed up before I got to taste them, or take their picture — so you’re just going to have to make your own.]

Ingredients

1 cup warm water
1 pkg yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 cup melted butter, cooled (or vegetable oil)
5-6 cups all-purpose flour, or enough to make dough stiff

Preparation

Mix yeast and sugar in a large bowl. Briefly work these two ingredients together with your fingers, as sugar helps activate yeast. Add warm water and stir. Let this mixture rest for about two minutes, until the liquid bubbles and foams slightly, an indication that the yeast is active. Add milk, butter (or other preferred fat), and egg. Stir. Incorporate 1 cup of sifted flour into the mixture and add salt. Continue adding flour until the mixture is stiff (three to four cups). Cover with a towel and place dough in a warm, dry place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Punch risen dough and knead for one minute, incorporating just enough extra flour to make sure the dough isn’t too sticky to work with your hands. Pinch dough into 2-3 inch balls and place in a greased 9×13″ baking pan. Allow rolls to rise until doubled again, about 1 hour. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 11 minutes (or until golden).

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