Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cloverleaf Rolls

I feel sort of guilty sharing a Thanksgiving recipe once Thanksgiving is already finished.  I had hoped to get this one posted before the holiday, but failed to perfect the recipe until the critical batch - the one I was actually bringing to Thanksgiving dinner.  It was a close one.

These are simple, tasty yeast rolls.  They're fairly fluffy and just a bit sweet, though not so much as something like a Parker House roll.  They were delicious with just a little butter, and also served well to soak up gravy. They could also make a great base for small leftover sandwiches.  All told, these are tasty, versatile rolls that I'll definitely make again (perhaps in half-batches) for further occasions.

You don't need much for this recipe.  It's a pretty basic bread-making assortment: Flour, sugar, vegetable oil, milk, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and yeast.

Start by combining 4 1/2 cups milk, 1 1/4 cups sugar, and 1 cup of oil in the largest stock pot you own and stirring to combine.  It'll never fully combine - the oil and milk just don't get along all that well.  That's okay.

Warm this mixture on the stove over medium-low heat until lukewarm - about 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  Check frequently with a thermometer.  Don't panic if you overshoot - just wait 20 minutes or so and it'll cool to the appropriate temperature.  However long it takes, make sure you're not more than about 10 degree off in either direction, as this is the temperature the yeast needs to be happiest.

Once the mixture is the right temperature, add your yeast, and start adding flour.  The best way to get things evenly combined is to add the flour a couple of cups at a time, and stir to mix often.

Add 8 cups of flour total.  The dough will be very wet and sticky at this point.  We'll add more flour later, but the yeast does better at this stage when it's not weighed down by all that extra mass.

Cover the pot and walk away for an hour.  Let it rise until it's roughly doubled in size.

Yeast is powerful!  Depending on its mood, the dough may more than double in size, so keep an eye on it.

After rising, add 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, and 2 tbsp salt, stirring or kneading to combine.

Now we'll work on the stickiness of the dough.  Add flour a cup at a time and mix well.  Keep adding flour until the dough is well-behaved enough not to stick to your hands as you knead or try to roll a bit into a ball.

Grease muffin tins, and add three small dough-balls to each cup.  The dough-balls should be about the size of a donut hole.  Don't worry about making it pretty at this stage - another rise will erase most of the wrinkles and imperfections.

Cover the muffin pans and let the dough rise someplace warm for about two hours, until they're more or less doubled in size.  They should look more or less like rolls.

Bake at 350 degrees F 10-12 minutes until just brown.  Don't let them go too long - the color on top will be pretty, but they'll end up dry.

Cool on wire racks before storing.  They're best eaten right out of the oven, though.

Serve warm with butter.  Room temperature is okay, too, but is there a roll in the world that's not better warm?  Warm bread is just good.


Recipe: Cloverleaf Rolls
Prep Time: 3-4 hours | Cook Time: 15 Minutes | Difficulty: Easy | Servings: 36-48

  • 4 1/2 cups Milk
  • 11 cups Flour
  • 1 1/4 cups White Sugar
  • 1 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 2 packages (4 1/2 tsp) Yeast
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 2 tbsp Salt
  1. In a very large stock pot, combine milk, vegetable oil, and sugar.  Heat over medium-low heat until lukewarm, approx. 100 degrees F.
  2. Add yeast and 8 cups flour to warm mixture in stock pot, mixing after the first 4 cups of flour and again once all 8 are added.
  3. Cover and let rise approx. 1 hour or until roughly doubled in size.
  4. When dough has risen, add baking powder, baking soda, and salt and stir or knead to combine.
  5. Add flour 1 cup at a time and mix well.  Stop adding flour when dough is pliable enough to roll into a small ball without sticking to hands or falling apart.
  6. Grease un-lined muffin tins.
  7. Form dough into balls, using approx. 2 tbsp dough per ball.  Balls should be about the size of a donut hole.
  8. Place three small dough-balls into each greased muffin cup in a triangular formation.
  9. Cover muffin pan with a lid or kitchen towel and let rise in a warm location approx. 2 hours, or until dough roughly doubles in size.
  10. Bake in a 350 degree oven 10-12 minutes until just barely brown.

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