November 22, 2013

Traditional, Homemade Thanksgiving Dinner - Installment #8: Potato Rolls

There is one thing that you make that everyone raves about.  It's the thing you are always asked to bring.  It's the first thing to get devoured.  My "thing" is potato rolls.  The problem is that my "thing" takes an entire day to make.  So I only make them on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The recipe comes from my Grandma Charlotte Emigh.  She developed this bread recipe because she doesn't like bread that has a strong yeast taste.  The recipe does use yeast, but the end result is mild.

If you are going to make these, you need to start early on Thanksgiving day.  I usually start around 9am if we are planning on eating 3pm-ish.  And don't skimp on any step.  If you try to go with 2 rises instead of 3 rises, the result will not be as good (trust me, I've tried to speed it up and skip a tise - bad.)  If you are going to make these, do it right :-)

Grandma's Potato Rolls (makes 2 dozen)
1 1/2 cup warm water
2 1/4 teaspoon dry yeast (one packet)
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening
2 eggs
1 cup warm potatoes*
7 cup unbleached white flour (or more)

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water.  Let it proof for 2 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a very large glass mixing bowl, combine salt, shortening, eggs and potatoes together.  Stir in the yeast mixture.

Mix in 5 cups of flour by hand (yes, with your hands).  Keep adding flour 1/2 cup at a time until it forms a ball that is not sticky and ready to knead.  Your hands will be a mess.  I ask my husband to add the flour while I keep mixing.

Flour a surface and knead the dough until it's smooth an elastic - adding flour as you need to.  It takes 5 - 10 minutes of work.  Consider this your exercise for the day.

While you are kneading the bread, have your husband, partner or child wash and dry the large glass bowl.  Then have them use shortening to grease the inside of the bowl.  When the dough is nice and smooth, form it into a ball and place in the greased bowl.  Use the shortening to grease the top of the dough.  Please a damp dish towel over and set in a warm location to rise.

When the dough has doubled in size (1-1 1/2 hours). Punch it down, put the towel back over and let rise again.  When it has doubled in size again (1 1/2 hours), prepare the muffin tin.  Use shortening to grease the inside of each muffin tin (don't use liners and don't use olive oil or butter - use shortening - I'm not kidding, use shortening).

Form the rolls by making three small balls of dough per muffin.  This will make them easy to tear apart and dip in gravy.  When all the rolls are formed, take pieces of parchment paper, spray one side with cooking spray and place, oil side down, over the dough.  Let the rolls rise again.  (Yep, that's rise number 3.)

When the rolls have doubled in size, preheat the oven to 400 F.  Bake for 15 minutes, watching closely. Take out when turning golden on top.  Apply butter to the top of each roll as they come out of the oven, then let cool for 10 minutes before removing from muffin tin.  Put right into a towel lined basket, cover with a towel and set right onto the table.  These are best served right away.

*The only way to speed it up that won't impact the end result, it to go with dried potato flakes instead of baking a potato.  Follow the instructions on the back for making one cup of potatoes.  I've done both dried and fresh and you really cannot tell the difference when the rolls are baked.*

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