In the May 5 Food section, we asked readers to send us their mothers' recipes. From the more than 200 submissions that have since arrived, we find ourselves learning a lot about mothers, their food, their lives--and their children. Here's one more of our favorites:
Pat's rolls--yep, that's what they always called them because my mother, Patricia Ann Jackson, makes the best buttery melt-in-your-mouth yeast rolls. She made the rolls only for the holidays because they took so long. We lived in Cleveland, where wind chills, "lake effect" snows and sub-zero temperatures were obvious signs of the coming of the winter holidays. But in our house nothing signaled winter, the holiday season and everything warm and fuzzy more than the smell of Mom's yeast rolls.
My mother would always taste the first batch to make sure they were just so, and then my sister and I would eat the whole first batch because they tasted so good. I liked mine with grape jelly.
Every year for as long as I can remember my mother's Thanksgiving "assignment" was rolls and pound cake. (Unfortunately, the pound cake recipe still remains a guarded secret.) She would make them both in preparation for our annual Thanksgiving trek to Grandma and Grandpa's house in Steubenville, Ohio. After our two-plus-hour car ride, we arrived rolls and cake in hand. My grandfather and Aunt Michele always gave the reviews: "These are better than last year's" or "Perhaps they need more salt--or less salt."
So there you have it, the roll story.
I really hope others find success with these rolls. I'm not sure my mother really understands just what her cooking means to me. It represents everything warm and good and cozy.
Pat's Rolls (About 42 rolls)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
Vegetable oil for the bowl
6 to 6 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 envelopes (about 2 generous tablespoons) active dry yeast or 2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 cups hot water
Cut 1/4 pound (1 stick) butter into small cubes and bring to room temperature. Lightly coat a large bowl with the oil. Have ready two 9-by-13-inch pans.
In a large bowl, stir together 2 1/2 cups of the flour with the salt, sugar, yeast and the butter cubes. Mix with an electric mixer on low speed. Gradually add the hot water. Then add the egg and increase the speed to medium. Beat for 2 minutes, occasionally scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
Add 3/4 cup of the flour and beat for an additional 2 minutes.
Stir in about 2 1/2 cups flour by hand, adding additional flour as needed. (When ready, the dough will pull away from the sides of the bowl.)
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in the oiled bowl, turning it to oil the top. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and place it in a warm, draft-free place and let it rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
Punch your fist into the middle of the dough to flatten. Shape the dough into a ball and let it rest on a lightly floured surface, covered with the bowl turned upside down, for approximately 15 minutes.
Melt the remaining 1/4 pound butter in the two 9-by-13-inch pans, dividing it evenly between them.
Divide the dough in half. On a floured surface, roll half of the dough to about 1/2-inch thickness and then cut out circles with a 3-inch biscuit cutter or the top of a glass. Repeat with the remaining half of the dough.
Dip each circle of dough in the melted butter and fold it in half, Parker-House style. Place the folded circles in the pans, allowing the rolls to touch.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Cover the pans with a clean kitchen towel and let rise until nearly doubled in size, approximately 30 minutes.
Bake the rolls in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove the rolls from the pan immediately and transfer them to a cooling rack to prevent them from becoming soggy. Cool completely and store in a plastic bag. Rolls keep for 2 to 3 days, or about a month if frozen.
Per roll: 113 calories, 2 gm protein, 16 gm carbohydrates, 4 gm fat, 16 mg cholesterol, 3 gm saturated fat, 113 mg sodium, 1 gm dietary fiber