Everyone has a food that takes them instantly back to their childhood with a single bite. For me it's these rolls. Served at every large family gathering, they were gone before they cooled and it's still the same way today in our home. These are perfect for Thanksgiving, which is just around the corner here in the United States.
The original recipe directions were so simplified, almost too much for more novice cooks, that I've expanded the preparation details here. Many refrigerator roll recipes call for using the dough as far out as 3 days, but I find that it rises too much in that period of time. Perfect timing is within 24 hours but can be pushed to 48.
Aunt Dorothy's Refrigerator Yeast Rolls*
Serves: Makes 3 dozen rolls
1 packet dry yeast
2 1/2 cups warm water
3 tablespoons unsalted butter - room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
1 large egg
8 cups all-purpose flour
1. Combine 1/2 cup of the warm water with yeast in a large bowl and stir until dissolved. Let rest for 5 minutes until bubbly.
2. Add remaining 2 cups of water to yeast mixture along with butter, sugar and salt. Stir until sugar is dissolved and butter has melted.
3. Beat egg lightly and add to water along with 1 cup of flour. Stir until well blended.
4. Add in remaining flour, a cup at a time, stirring with a heavy wooden spoon until no more flour can be added. Knead in remaining flour with hands, a 1/4 cup at a time until dough is smooth and elastic - about 8 to 10 minutes.
5. Put dough back into bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Store in refrigerator for at least 4 hours but not more than 48 hours.
6. When you are ready to bake rolls, pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F, punch down dough and portion into 36 equal pieces. Shape dough into rolls and put into greased muffin tins. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm spot for 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.
7. Once rolls are doubled, brush with olive oil or egg wash (1 egg and 2 tablespoons water blended well) and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown on top.
*Aunt Dorothy was my grandfather's sister-in-law. I absolutely adored her and my uncle, Hershel. She was sweet and quiet, which was necessary as my uncle took the spotlight every time we visited. He was a real hoot, definitely a story for another time.