It’s 2 days and counting until all of us Americans celebrate one of our favorite holidays, Thanksgiving! Growing up in Canada, we celebrate Thanksgiving in October, so lucky for me, I get to do this up twice a year and you won’t hear me complain about that.
I love any holiday where I can get together with my family and friends and spend time together, eat a beautiful meal and be thankful for who and what I have in my life. As I get older I cherish these times more, and I love rediscovering these special times as I watch my son get excited about them, and watch it all through his eyes. It makes you feel like a kid again yourself.
If you are like us, you are probably getting the last of your meal prep done or shopping for last minutes items. We travel to Idaho every Thanksgiving to be with family, so I do a lot of prep work at home two days before the actual date as we have a full travel day on Wednesday. That said, I have to be very well organized and I try to make as much ahead of time as possible. One thing I look forward to every year is one of the most simple side dishes. The dinner rolls. I’m sure most normal people look forward to the turkey and stuffing and creamy mashed potatoes, and I do love all of that as well, but the dinner roll has to be “just so” for the meal to be totally complete.
For years we have been bringing the same dishes to our family get together and I have perfected them over time. But the dinner rolls were not one of them. I bought them year after year and I was a stickler for buying the Sarah Lee brand. I like the texture and how soft they are. I know they aren’t fancy, but I love those little things.
To give you an idea of how much I loved those rolls, let me take you back to November 2014. I was 5 months pregnant and obviously showing at that point. I left buying my dinner rolls until the last minute because I wanted them fresh and didn’t want to buy them ahead and have to freeze them. They just aren’t the same after you do. I saw them countless times on the store shelves and figured they would just be there when I needed them. I was wrong. I remember leaving work that day and heading to two stores and both were totally sold out. The devastation was unreal. I was not going to give up however. I went to yet another store and thankfully, there were 2 bags left on the shelf. I waddled over with my shopping cart and bent my pregnant belly down to pick them up when I noticed another lady standing there wanting the same thing. I had them in my hand. I was there first. I stood up straight with my eyes completely wide at the situation and we both stared at each other for about 5 seconds. The right thing to do would have been to ask her if she wanted one of them and shared one of the two bags. But I needed two. In total shame, I awkwardly looked away and tossed them in my cart and got out of there like a crazed pregnant woman who was buying her last meal and her life depended on it. I will never forget that woman and the way she just stared at me. I still feel bad about it every time I see those stupid rolls and the guilt creeps in every single time.
However, I now have these beautiful, buttery rolls that I can make from scratch and they taste so much better. And Rob wouldn’t be satisfied with me buying them anymore now that I can make them myself and he knows the difference. I’m sorry Sarah Lee, for the betrayal, but 4 years later, I’m a better person and I would be happy to share all the bags with anyone who wants them. Give making dinner rolls a shot if you haven’t tried to before. You will be so glad you did, and nobody at your Thanksgiving table will complain. That’s a promise!
4 cups all purpose flour (use more if needed if your dough is too sticky)
2 tablespoons rapid rise, instant yeast
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups warm milk between 110-115 degrees
5 tablespoons butter, softened
1 egg at room temperature
Combine 3 cups of the flour, yeast, sugar, salt, warm milk, butter, and egg in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using a dough hook, turn the mixer on to low and let it mix until the flour is incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Then use speed 2 or 3 and let it work the dough for about 2 minutes.
Add a 1/2 cup of flour and blend with the dough hook until incorporated. Add the other 1/2 cup of flour and let it all incorporate, mixing at speed 2 or 3 for another 2 minutes until a ball of dough is formed. Your dough should be slightly sticky, but also pulling away from the mixing bowl. If it isn’t, then add a tablespoon of flour at a time until it does.
Transfer the dough to a greased bowl and cover with a towel. Let it rise for 30 minutes in a warm place.
Once your dough has at least doubled in size, punch it down. Divide in half, then half again, and one more time for each part, to get 8 equal pieces. From there, divide each of the 8 small pieces into 3 small round balls. I do this to try to make sure all 24 balls of dough are equal in size.
Line up your round dough balls on a greased 9×15 baking sheet evenly. Cover with a towel and let it rise once more for another 30 minutes, in a warm place.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Bake the rolls for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Brush the rolls with melted butter and sprinkle on some flaked sea salt. Serve warm and enjoy!
Here’s how they turn out:
In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine all of the ingredients (except for one cup of the flour). Try to spill a little of the warm milk on the counter while pouring it in and have your child laugh at you and yell “Mama! You’re making a big mess!” It keeps things real.
Turn your mixer on to low, and watch it to see if you need to scrape the sides once or twice until it’s all incorporating. Once it has, let it work the sticky dough for about 2 minutes.
Then turn it up to 2 or 3 (I use 2) and slowly add the first ½ cup of additional flour. Let it totally incorporate and then add the other ½ cup. Let the dough hook do the work for you for another 3 minutes or so.
You will end up with a slightly sticky dough, that is just coming away from the mixer, but when you grab it with your hands, you shouldn’t have sticking. If this is still too sticky, then you need to add a little more flour and run it again until it’s not.
Turn your dough into a greased mixing bowl, turning it once to cover it and cover it with a towel. Let it rise for 30 minutes in a warm spot.
After it has doubled in size, punch it down.
Divide it in 2, then repeat the dividing until you have 8 equal parts.
From there divide each of the 8 pieces into another 3 small round dough balls. This is how I like to do it so I get the same size consistency. You might have a better way! Place your small rounded dough balls onto a greased, 9×15 baking sheet with a little space between them. I like to gently pull at the round balls in my hand until I have a very smooth top and then pull and tuck the not so smooth part underneath. Arrange them so you have 4 across the short way, 6 across the long way on your pan.
Then wiggle your nose, nod your head and snap your fingers to magically make the rest appear on the pan completely done for you.
See, just like magic. Cover these again with a towel, and let them rise for another 30 minutes in a warm place.
Once doubled, put them into your preheated 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes.
The tops will be just starting to get golden. This is how they come out.
But please don’t stop there. Melt some butter in a dish and use a pastry brush to coat the tops with the butter. You want that shine. That beautiful, salted buttery glow, that will enhance the golden tops and make you lean over and inhale deeply.
I like to sprinkle on a little flaked sea salt too. It’s a little tiny crunch, and a very mild sea salt taste.Yes and yes.
Here’s the pull apart test. You get that beautiful detached ‘white dinner roll look’ and you can see how light and fluffy it’s going to be.
Then when you pull it apart with your fingers to see how the inside turned out, the steam will rise, the clouds will part, and the light airy texture of this little beauty will sing a song of joy that you made it come to life, so it could live out it’s full potential.
These are wonderful little rolls for any time of year, but they will turn out to be a star on your Thanksgiving or Christmas table. Make them a day or two ahead, wrap them up very well and then when you need to serve them, they are the best when warmed slightly in the oven, with maybe a little more butter on the top. Because you’re worth it.
I truly hope that your Thanksgiving is full of warmth and happiness and loved ones all around you. I for one, am first and foremost thankful for my faith in God, and my hope and salvation through Him. With that, I have everything. My family, friends and everything that we have been given in this life is blessed, and I take none of it for granted. Much love, and thankful thoughts to you all, from our little homesteading family, to yours.
– The Homesteaders Wife