Okay, class, Thanksgiving is nearly upon us. There’s a whole continuum on how to do this, from extreme old school (go shoot a turkey, pluck it, roast it over an open fire) to packing up the family and going out to Marie Callendar’s for dinner. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle.
The Damsel grew up on delicious homemade rolls. The Damsel’s mother is more than a master baker when it comes to rolls–she’s an artist, and Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without them. And so it seems that homemade rolls must grace the Damsel’s table.
The problem is, the Damsel’s mama is in Spain at the moment, and she has cruelly refused to Fed Ex rolls home. Downright mean, but that’s reality. The Damsel contemplated trying to make them herself, but she got discouraged when she recalled her mother’s recipe requires a couple of square miles in countertop space, a battalion of baking sheets, and a second oven.
To get rolls light as air, you need a sticky dough. The stickier the better. More flour will make them stiff and dense, so you try to add as little flour as you can–except that makes rolling out the dough challenging, to say the least. You have to strike that perfect balance between sticky and manageable.
Unless you bypass the whole issue by making batter rolls.
These batter rolls are so sticky, you don’t roll them out at all. You spoon them into muffin tins, thus allowing the end result to be as fluffy as you wanna be. Yeah, they look sort of rustic and muffin-like. But they taste good–light, fluffy, buttery. And you go nowhere near a rolling pin. Yessss! If you have pinnophobia, (fear of rolling pins) these rolls are for you.
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Put 3 cups of warm water into a mixing bowl, and sprinkle in 2 tablespoons of yeast. (Buy bulk yeast if you can–it’s so much cheaper than the little packets) Add 1/2 cup sugar. If you’re concerned about how “live” your yeast is, wait a minute or two at this point.
The yeast will dissolve and get sort of globby/foamy, signaling you’re good to go.
In no particular order add 2 eggs, 1 tablespoon salt, 2/3 cup shortening, and 3 cups of flour. Beat sternly, and then add 3 more cups of flour until the batter is nice and smooth. Add up to 1/2 cup more flour if you must, but the dough should be VERY sticky. Let raise until double.
Haul out 2 12-holer muffin tins and spray with Pam, or your aerosol grease of choice.
Fill each muffin cup by spooning in the dough. The Damsel uses two spoons, in a take-off of the drop-cookie method, except it’s way gloppier. 2/3 full would be ideal. The Damsel often fills them fuller, even though she feels bad inside for it. It’s just that this recipe makes a little bit more than 24 rolls’ worth, and she can’t stop herself from putting an eensy bit more in this cup, and then that cup, and well, you can see where we’re going from here.
Let these raise until nicely puffed over the muffin tin, or until you just can’t wait any more.
Bake for 13-15 minutes. Tip them out to cool slightly before hogging them down.
The last time the Damsel made these rolls, she caught one of the sprog sneaking upstairs with five of them stuffed inside his shirt. They’ll be a hit at your Thanksgiving table too.