I’m a sucker for Valentines Day. Most every holiday, for that matter. Why not? I’m always up for an excuse to remind the boys how special they are to me. I may not be the type to go out and buy gifts, but I can take time to bake. And I do.
So for Valentine’s Day, at meal times, the boys have been presented with everything heart shaped you can imagine and I can figure out how to make: cookies, candies, biscuits, pancakes; one year I even made Bob and Forrest heart shaped cheese burgers. Hey, Valentine’s Day only comes once a year, might as well enjoy it!
This year, I want to make heart shaped yeast rolls. I would like to share this recipe for my favorite, fail-proof farm-house rolls, but not just because they will hopefully be presented in the shape of a heart this year. But because of little snip of a story I heard recently behind yeast rolls that a neighbor shared.
This neighbor alluded to a tale of yeast rolls, and how he almost fell in love with a woman because of the rolls she baked… He was most vague, but I have fun envisioning the details, enjoy putting the imaginary particulars together, and love the picture I see! The story takes place probably 25 years ago at an old fashioned guest ranch in the mountains, the type with the big old lodge where people could visit together by the fire, play together in the game room, and share meals together. I can imagine this kind, young man, helping out in the kitchen because that is the only way he can figure on spending time with the lovely woman working there. Too shy to chat with her, he offers to help her bake, just so that he can be near her… But alas, this is a guest ranch, and the young man can not stay but for a few more days, and he leaves taking with him just memories of the lady, and the smell of those rolls lingering forever in his mind…
I don’t know the extent of the story, of course, he hasn’t shared the details… yet… but I have enjoyed the picture it has painted in my mind, and it makes the impression of these rolls somewhat romantic, which on Valentine’s Day, is a must! Be warned, however: the smell of these rolls in the oven may linger in your mind forever…
So, here now I present to you my recipe for No-Fail Farm House Rolls:
In a large bowl, mix together with that big fork or a wooden spoon until you have a nice, soft, mushy paste:
2 packages, or 5 teaspoon, active dry yeast
2 cups warm (not hot) water
½ cup sugar
½ stick, or ¼ cup, melted butter
¼ cup powdered milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups all purpose flour (feel free to experiment with different types of flours)
Then, slowly add in, while kneading with your hands:
2 cups additional flour
Put the dough out on a floured surface and knead the dough until it is smooth and slightly elastic. This should take about 4-5 minutes. If need be, add just a little more flour to your dough to keep it smooth and not sticky.
Roll the dough in a ball, put it back in the large bowl, and cover with plastic. Let this sit and rise until doubled in bulk, about 1-2 hours.
Punch the dough down, give it another minute of kneading, then divide the dough according to how you would like to bake it.
Depending on how you divide and shape your dough, you either have 24 3-4” dinner rolls, 16 5”hamburger buns, 2 loafs of bread, 24 cinnamon rolls – or any combination there of. I usually split the dough in half and make 12 dinner rolls, and one loaf of bread or one batch of cinnamon rolls. I’ll have to share that recipe with you next week.
Put your shaped dough/rolls into a greased pan(s), cover again with plastic, and let sit another 1-2 hours to rise, until almost doubled in bulk.
When you are ready to bake, melt another ¼ cup butter and drizzle or brush onto the surface of the dough. Then bake in a moderate oven, preheated to about 350 degrees. Rolls take about 15 minutes, and a loaf of bread I prefer to cook at 325 for approximately 25 minutes. The tops should all be a soft, golden brown.
When done baking, remove from pans and cool on a wire rack. In our house, the first of these rolls are always consumed while still quite warm, smothered with a pat of butter. If by any chance you do end up with extra rolls, they do freeze well. Just sprinkle them with water and warm them back up in the over when you’re ready to enjoy them.
If all goes well today, I’ll be posting a photo later of the Heart Shaped Farm House Rolls! Stay tuned…