Grandma Shafer Rolls!

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by Stacy & Dave Koster

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that is more about tradition
than anything else. It’s why those weird sweet potatoes with the
marshmallows on top is prepared for so many tables even though it’s
not even an outside consideration for any other meal of the year. I
mean, until I was an adult, I never even knew you could eat sweet
potatoes on days other than Thanksgiving. The point is, every family
has a favorite dish, and if that dish isn’t on the table when everyone
takes their seat, it’s not Thanksgiving. In our household, Grandma
Shafer’s rolls are one of those dishes. We make them every year,
whether Thanksgiving is at my house or someone else’s. What’s
interesting about this recipe isn’t the unique dense texture and
sweet-yeasty flavor; it’s in the making. The real tradition is in the
preparation. Every year, for as long as I can remember, my mom would
forget the recipe, and never the day or week before when it could
conveniently be obtained through a casual search and phone call. This
fact was always discovered when it was 30 minutes after we should have
started them. At this point, Grandma Shafer or Aunt Kim would be
called in to save the day, after pleasantries.

Of course, this is only part of the tradition. Once that recipe was
located, and the dough made and readied for baking, everyone would be
called in to the kitchen with calls of “Grease your hands,” amongst
grumbling and muttering. Then everyone would cover their hands in oil,
roll the dough into small balls, and drop them in threes in muffin
tins. In the end, we’d get our rolls and all would be well with the
dinner table. And also breakfast and lunch for the next few days,
because this recipe makes a prodigious number of rolls and they’re
awesome left over.

In a large bowl, stir together:

1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 pkg. Fleishman’s Rapid Rise yeast
1 tsp. salt

On the stove, heat until finger warm:

1 cup milk
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup butter

Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and, with your hand mixer,
beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.

Add 1 egg and 1 3/4 cup flour. At high speed, beat for 2 minutes.

Stir in 3 1/2 cups of flour (this is best done by hand. If you use
your hand mixer for this part, you are guaranteed to break it).

Spread 3/4 cups of flour on wax paper, or wherever you want to knead
the dough, and pour the batter onto it. Knead until smooth and
stretchy.

Let the dough rise in a greased and covered bowl for 1 hour. Punch the
dough down and let rise for another hour. In greased muffin tins,
place three dough balls in each spot, and let rise for another hour.

Bake at 425 for about 6 minutes, or until done.

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