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Kitchen Mailbox: Versatile Sweet Rolls recipe easy to follow

Thursday, November 02, 2000

By Arlene Burnett

A good baker starts with a great recipe. In our opinion, a great recipe begins with easy-to-follow directions, ingredients that are readily available and a final presentation that will tempt even the hard-to-please.

Today's recipe, Sweet Rolls, has all of the above, plus versatility -- with just this one recipe, you can make dinner rolls (in a variety of shapes) or sweet rolls. Because this recipe calls for yeast, we should go over a few vital steps for working with yeast. Without getting technical, here they are:

Kneading: Kneading is vital because it distributes the yeast cells and other ingredients evenly through the dough. Kneading develops a firm gluten, which increases the volume of dough. If dough rises unevenly, it may be because it was not kneaded long enough. It usually takes about 10 minutes to knead dough. Finished dough should be elastic and smooth.

Here's a tip from "The Joy of Cooking" by Irma S. Romabuer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker: "To test dough, slowly and gently stretch a small piece of dough, turning it in a circular motion as you pull so that it stretches evenly. The dough should hold together without tearing until it forms a sheer membrane, thin enough to let light come through."

Rising: Dough should be placed in a draft-free room at a temperature of 70 to 85 degrees. If the room is cold, place the dough over (not in) a pan of warm water or other heat source. We placed the bowl of dough on the stove top while we were preheating the oven for another recipe.

One more tip: A thermometer comes in handy for testing the warm water used to dissolve the yeast. The water, as the recipe states, should be between 110 and 115 degrees ("The Joy of Cooking" says 105 to 115 degrees) -- no more nor less. If the water is too cold, the yeast won't grow, and hot water (usually 140 degrees) will kill the yeast. Both result in the dough not rising sufficiently.

Kathy Jacoby of Murrysville sent this recipe for Sweet Rolls. She writes: "I've been using this recipe since 1955 and found none better." We agree. It's an easy dough to work with, and we had no trouble getting the dough to rise. We used an electric mixer with a dough hook for this recipe. We highly recommend it -- it saves time and energy.

The dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. The first day we made the cloverleaf rolls and crescent rolls; on the second day we made the sticky buns. This is a recipe we'll use again.

Sweet Rolls

2 cups milk
2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
1/2 cup sugar
6 tablespoons shortening
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup sifted flour plus 5 to 6 cups of flour
2 eggs, well beaten

Scald the milk. Dissolve the yeast in the water and let stand 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, add the sugar, shortening and salt. Immediately pour scalded milk over ingredients in bowl and stir until shortening is melted. When lukewarm, blend in, beating until smooth, 1 cup of sifted flour. Stir in yeast mixture, mixing well. Measure out 5 to 6 cups of flour. Add about half to the yeast mixture and beat until very smooth. Beat in the eggs, then beat in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and let stand 5 to 10 minutes. Knead dough into a large ball and place it into a greased, deep bowl. Turn dough to bring greased surface to top. Cover with waxed paper and towel and let stand in warm place (about 80 degrees) until dough is doubled. Punch down with fist; pull edges of dough into center and turn dough completely over in bowl. Cover and let rise again until nearly doubled. Punch down and turn dough out onto lightly floured surface.

Follow suggestions for shaping rolls, using just amount needed for a single baking. Place rolls on greased baking sheets. Brush with melted butter or margarine and sprinkle with poppy seeds if desired. Cover with a towel and let rise again, 15 or 25 minutes. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.

Here are some suggestions on shaping the dough:

Twists: Roll dough 1/4 inch thick. Cut into 6-by-3/4- inch strips. With hands, roll and stretch into longer strips. Fold each strip in half lengthwise; pinch ends. Twist and tuck ends under.

Cloverleaf rolls: With hands, shape dough into 1-inch-thick rolls. Cut off bits and form into balls about 1 inch in diameter. Place three balls in each muffin pan (grease the muffin pan).

Crescents: Roll dough into a 1/4-inch-thick 8-inch circle. Brush dough with melted butter or margarine. Cut into pie-shape wedges. Roll from wide end. Place on greased baking sheet.

You can also use this dough to make these dessert rolls:

Sticky Buns

1 cup packed dark brown sugar
8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
1/4 cup honey
3/4 chopped pecans, optional
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Bring to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat the brown sugar, butter and honey, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and stir in the pecans. Pour the hot syrup into the baking pan and spread evenly. Let cool. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a 16-by-12-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with the melted butter; sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Starting from the long side, roll up the dough as you would a jelly roll. Cut crosswise into 8 slices. Arrange the slices cut-side-down in the prepared pan, spacing the slices equally in the pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake until the buns are golden brown and the syrup is bubbling hot, about 30 minutes. Allow the buns to cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Invert the pan onto a baking sheet to collect the hot syrup. Serve warm or at room temperature.


If you want to answer a recipe request from a reader or are looking for a recipe yourself, please write to Kitchen Mailbox, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222, or e-mail to aburnett@post-gazette.com. Please include a name, neighborhood and a daytime phone number on all correspondence. All recipes are kitchen-tested by the Post-Gazette.



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