Bianca was my mother-in-law and when I met her, I was still in college. Since she lived less than an hour from where my future husband and I were going to school, sometimes we would get in the car to have a meal with her. She was an amazing cook who made everything from scratch. She was a particularly good baker, and even 30 years later, there was a certain roll recipe that I couldn’t get out of my head. Whenever I started to think of her and the rolls she made, I literally could taste them. Unfortunately, she died a few months after I married her son, and many of her recipes seemingly went with her…or so I thought.
Older Brother To The Rescue
Since I’m gearing up to put in a kitchen at The Red House, I’ve been looking through cookbooks in anticipation of what I can make and bake. When I mentioned to Lynn’s older brother that I really wished I had her “old roll” recipe, voilà, he managed to find a recipe that we think was the one she used. But before I talk about making them, how the rolls came to be should be shared.
Thanksgiving and The Crescent Roll Story
Growing up, Lynn tells me they always had turkey fairly early on Thanksgiving Day (think 1 or 2 p.m.) Consequently, because they got the holiday meal over with so early, by 7, everyone was hungry again. Apparently, Bianca made crescent rolls to eat after the Thanksgiving meal, so the gang could then munch on turkey sandwiches. Lynn told me that they would cut open the rolls, piling leftover turkey in between. He remembers the rolls still being warm, but I think he made that part up. Since I never shared a Thanksgiving meal with them, I’m not sure how I was privileged enough to have eaten her rolls in the first place, but I did. Imagine how excited I was then when I finally got my hands on what might have been her original recipe!
Although the recipe calls for margarine and peanut oil, I’m not fond of either so I used butter instead. I also ended up cutting the recipe in half because I didn’t want to be stuck with lots of leftover rolls if they didn’t turn out. I also didn’t roll out the dough wide enough which resulted in rolls that were a lot smaller than Bianca used to make. I shouldn’t have doubted my own baking ability however, since Lynn was reaching for a roll the minute it came out of the oven; within a day, all the rolls I made had been devoured. I think they came out pretty good for my first attempt and like all recipes, I think this one can be tweaked a bit, too. Next time, I’ll make a full batch and make the rolls bigger.
5 ¾ -6 ¾ cups of unsifted flour
½ cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 cup milk
2/3 cup water
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter
2 eggs (at room temp)
2 packages dry yeast
*Recipe originally called for melted margarine AND peanut oil neither of which I’m particularly fond of hence my butter substitution.
In a large bowl, mix 1 ¾ cups flour, salt, sugar, and undissolved dry yeast.
Combine milk, water and butter in a saucepan. Heat over low heat until liquids are very warm (120F-130F).
Gradually add to dry ingredients and beat two minutes at medium speed with electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add eggs and ½ cup flour. Beat at high speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in enough additional flour to make a stiff dough.
Turn out onto a lightly floured board. Kneed until smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes.
Cover with plastic wrap, then a towel. Let rest 20 minutes. Divide dough into three equal pieces. Roll one piece to a 12-inch circle.
Brush lightly with melted butter. Cut into twelve pie-shaped wedges.
Roll wedges up tightly. Place on greased baking sheet point side down. Curve to form U shape. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough.
Cover loosely with wax paper brushed with oil, then top with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 2-24 hours.
When ready to bake, remove from refrigerator and carefully uncover dough. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.
Bake at 400 degree oven 12-15 minutes or until done. Remove from baking sheet and cool on wire racks.
Makes 3 dozen rolls.