Monday, August 24, 2009

Not Quite Grandma's

We had a tease of Fall this weekend: temperatures cool enough to inspire thoughts of roasted turkeys. (Of course, it doesn't take much to inspire that sort of mood in this house - a good sale at the grocery store can get us down-right nostalgic for Thanksgiving). Having happened upon quite the sale (and my husband being quite the bird roaster) we celebrated the fleetingly cool weekend in style. Jason requested dinner rolls.

Luckily, my grandmother was a yeast roll-extraordinaire. She made at least three pans of them for every family holiday. By hand. She also raised four children, became a nurse when most adults opt for a mid-life crisis, sewed her granddaughters' prom dresses, and leapt tall buildings in a single bound. (I am sure her children could tell you tales of the time she forgot to pack their school lunches or almost left one of them at the store, but I had the luxury of being her granddaughter and she never made any mistakes with me).

I don't have grandma's Wonder Mama cape, but I do have her recipe, a bread machine, and her nose (whether this helps in the kitchen, I don't know). A little bit of tinkering with the bread machine and her recipe and I've come up with this:

Grandma's Bread Machine Yeast Rolls:

Put the following ingredients into your bread machine basket in this order:

1 3/4 c. lukewarm water
3 1/2 c. flour
5 tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. salt
1/3 c. plus half of 1/3 c. dry milk
1 1/2 Tbsp. butter cut into small chunks
2 1/4 tsp. (or one packet) dry yeast

Set the machine to Dough Cycle, turn it on, and go do something else for two hours. When the dough is done, flour a clean surface and knead the dough until it is no longer sticky but still elastic. Cut into 12 pieces and shape them into rolls. Place these into a greased pan, cover them with a towel, and let them double in size. Of course, here is where it gets a little tricky. Grandma being a yeast roll genius simply gave the instruction "bake." I baked ours on 375 degrees until they were golden brown on top. Then we covered them with aluminum foil and baked them a little longer just because they looked a bit doughy inside. Once out of the oven, run a stick of butter over the tops to give them that nice I'm-going-to-melt-in-your-mouth glow. You can try to let them cool a bit before breaking into them, but that never works for us.

As I shaped the rolls on Saturday I allowed myself a little daydream about having made the rolls completely by hand and imagined it akin to squeezing one of those rice-filled stress balls for an hour. I thought of my grandmother and all the ways she spent loving her family, big and small. And then I snapped back to reality and rinsed out the bread machine basket. Of course, there is something to making the rolls by hand. These don't taste quite as good as Grandma's. She was one of a kind. But for those cape-less parents out there who trip small anthills in a single bound, they aren't bad.

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