Sunday, November 22, 2009

Perfect and Easy Old Fashioned Cloverleaf and Crescent Yeast Rolls

Mama's favorite cloverleaf and crescent holiday yeast roll remains my favorite recipe too, even after all of these years. These are truly the original old fashioned yeast roll - tender, light and perfect.
Mama's favorite cloverleaf and crescent holiday yeast roll remains my favorite recipe too, even after all of these years. These are truly the original old fashioned yeast roll - tender, light and perfect.

Old Fashioned Yeast Rolls

This is my go to holiday dinner roll recipe, an absolutely perfect dinner roll for any holiday dinner, and, of course, any other day really. I wrote it for my stand mixer but if you don't own one, don't fret! You can still make these rolls with a little bit of extra elbow grease, so I've also included basic instructions for hand kneading in the recipe.

Airy, soft and tender on the inside and nicely browned with the tiniest bit of crunch on the outside, they truly are the perfect holiday roll. It's really a shame that we don't make homemade yeast rolls more often, but mostly they only make an appearance at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner because of the time needed for the two risings. Those 30 minute quick rolls are nice as a fill in, but they are really more like a biscuit than a roll to me because you really do need that extra long rise for the yeast to develop. They are so worth the extra time though, and especially for these two special meals, and aside from the rising time, so easy to make.

Scalding milk is an 'old school' method that is really not even necessary to do anymore, since the primary purpose of it in older recipes was to kill bacteria and also enzymes known to interfere with the chemical reaction from the milk with the recipe. With modern pasteurization that's not much of a worry these days, but you know what? I still do it. Old habits die hard, and why mess with a good thing?

You can do this entire batch in any shape you like - parker house, fan tans, whatever you like. I like to do the cloverleafs and crescents, because frankly they are the easiest, so I like to split the dough and form half of each. Once formed, the second rise can happen in 30 minutes or can take as long as an hour, depending on the environment, so plan accordingly, because you want to time these rolls to pop out of the oven when everything else is ready.

One important tip before we start. When measuring flour, be sure to spoon into your measuring cup, rather than scooping your measuring cup into a canister or bag, which causes the flour to compact, meaning that you will use more flour than needed and will create a heavier and more dense bread.

By the way, this is the same dough you'll use for homemade cinnamon rolls too! You'll find directions for those at the bottom of the recipe text.

Here's how to make these favorite rolls.

Heat the milk and set aside to cool. Proof the yeast with a pinch of sugar and the warm water for about 4 minutes. Combine 2 cups of the flour, with the cooled milk, sugar, salt, butter and egg. Using the dough hook, mix until well combined, then add the yeast and mix for 2 minutes. Continue on low speed 2, adding additional flour about 1/2 cup at a time, until dough bunches around the dough hook and cleans the sides of the bowl. Knead on speed 2 for 4 minutes, or until dough is smooth. The dough will still be a bit sticky.

Turn dough out into a greased bowl, then turn it over so that both sides are coated. Spray the top with butter flavor non-stick spray and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.  Cover that with a clean, thick towel and set aside in a warm place to rise, until doubled, about 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Return one half to the bowl and cover so that it doesn't dry out.  To make cloverleafs, cut sections of the dough into small sections. You'll be rolling each of these into a ball about one inch in size, so ideally you'd like to end up with 36 balls.

Spray a standard size 12 cup muffin tin with non-stick spray. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place into the muffin cup.

Continuing rolling dough into balls, placing three balls into each cup. You should fill at least 11 of the 12 cups, depending on how large you roll the balls.

Spray the tops of the dough balls and the muffin tin with non-stick spray and very loosely cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm, draft free spot to rise a second time. This can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour or more.  To make crescents, pat the dough into a circle about 1/4 inch thick and using a knife or a straight edge, cut in half.

Continue cutting into halves until you have sectioned out wedges. You can do up to 16 wedges, depending on the size crescent you want; less wedges for bigger crescents. Roll from the wide end to the tip, placing on a greased baking sheet with the tip facing down.

Set aside and let rise 30 minutes to an hour, or until nice and puffy. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Carefully and very slowly remove the plastic wrap. Gently pat the rolls with melted butter before placing them in the oven and bake for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, or until nicely golden brown.

Brush again with melted butter when they come out of the oven. Remove from the pan and set on a cooling rack to prevent them from getting soggy, or place directly into bread baskets and bring straight to the table.

You would be hard pressed to be disappointed in these rolls - I promise! Yes, I really do think that they are perfect and hope you will plan to serve them with your next holiday meal.

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Posted by on November 22, 2009

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