The other night it was George’s birthday and I tried to come up with a menu for the birthday boy dinner. What would please him most? Well, he’s not much on gourmet food but he is a big bread man. I decided I would make him homemade dinner rolls and homemade butter. The rest of the meal I knew would be of little importance to him. That’s my guy!! Now you need to know that my last experience with bread baking was many years ago. My first husband’s grandmother came to stay with us for a weekend and she decided she would teach me how to make her signature challah bread from scratch. I am still traumatized by the experience. She proceeded to throw ingredients on my kitchen counter and mix them up right there. That’s right – no bowl, no mixer, no measuring spoons or cups. I was very scared!! I grew up in a house where my mother had never even heard of the Pillsbury Dough Boy . Sugar only came in those little packets. This was frightening ! She kept mixing and throwing more ingredients in and tasting the doughy mixture and throwing more things in. When she was done and the bread dough was safely rising on the counter under a dish towel she asked if I followed what she was doing and if I could now replicate her recipe? What ?? I can’t hear you!! Was she kidding? I would no more be able to replicate that than mix up a Molotov cocktail. Come to think of it now my kitchen did resemble what it might look like after a bomb went off. Flour and bits of dough were everywhere. I was too afraid of what she would do if I said I couldn’t follow any of what she was doing ( I was only 22 at the time and very intimidated by her ) . Maybe she would start the mixing the ingredients process all over again.
So of course I said I had gotten it and would now be whipping up homemade challah every chance I could get.
I looked for some easy recipes online and found one for dinner rolls. That would be perfect because they would be DINNER for George, especially after he got a taste of the homemade butter.
Soften the yeast in the water.
Put the sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Heat and stir the milk and shortening until the shortening melts.
Working with yeast is really like a science experiment with all kinds of chemical reactions going on. Grandma Lilly must have been a scientist savant! I need measurements!
Add the milk mixture to the bowl along with the eggs and yeast mixture.
Stir in one cup of flour at a time to form a soft dough that can be kneaded.
The kneading part was kind of sticky and gross. My hands were covered with the stuff and I had to pull it all off and it kept getting stuck and it really was a mess. Kids would love to make this if you could tolerate the cleanup!
When you are done with the kneading you put the dough in a large greased bowl and cover it with a dish towel or saran wrap. Leave it alone for an hour in a warm place until it doubles in size. This is important. I don’t think it was warm enough in my kitchen for the dough to do its thing. It probably needed more time or more warmth. Who knew dough was so sensitive!
When it is doubled in size you get to punch the dough down. Yes it really is an exercise in expressing your emotions – all that kneading and punching- I think there was a face on my dough. Not telling whose it was!!
Shape the dough into rolls or a loaf. Now you need to let it rise again!
When it nearly doubles again it is time to bake.
While it was baking I made the butter. Now this is really easy. You pretty much just step back and let the stand mixer do its thing. Love this!
We celebrated with a glass of this Moscato. I bought it because George loved the one we had at dinner the other night. It had a beautiful salmon color. Not too sweet. It is fruity and bubbly with hints of rose. Under $15
Too be fair I will tell you that I also made lemon sole topped with stewed tomatoes, pesto and wine and baked in the oven. I served it with sauteed spinach and angel hair pasta with garlic and oil.We had apple crumb cake for dessert.
George had a little of everything and a lot of bread and butter!
Happy birthday honey!
Here is the link for the Golden Dinner Rolls
and for the butter – this blog post describes the process perfectly!