My mother makes these every year for Thanksgiving, and it's what I look forward to maybe even more than the turkey itself. The tradition began with Nana (my great-grandma). My mom swears she's never been able to get her rolls like Nana's (having never had Nana's, but I can say these are sublime. Her recipe is adapted from an old cookbook from my Grandma Jeanne's town of Overbrook, Kansas (The Overbrook Centennial Cookbook). I use butter for flavor, but she says shortening makes them lighter (it's true). You can make these as clovers, like she does, or as split-top or plain and simple round rolls. They bake up golden brown and beautifully fluffy. —Erin Jeanne McDowell
- Prep time 12 hours 30 minutes
- Cook time 30 minutes
- Makes about 18 rolls
all-purpose flour (720 g)
granulated sugar (99 g)
instant yeast (19 grams)
kosher salt (6 g)
unsalted butter (or shortening - see author’s note above), at room temperature (113 g)
freshly mashed potatoes (from about 1 medium Russet potato) (about 250 g)
warm water (about 95-100°F/35-38°C) (226 g)
large eggs (113 g)
unsalted butter, melted (113 g)
- Make the dough the day before you want to bake the rolls. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt on low speed to combine, 20-30 seconds.
- In a medium bowl, stir the butter (or shortening) into the warm mashed potatoes and stir to combine. Add this mixture, along with the water and eggs and mix on low speed for 4 minutes, until a dough forms.
- Raise speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes more. The dough will be fairly smooth in texture, but may be a bit sticky. Transfer the dough to a large, oiled bowl that will allow room for the dough to expand. Let the dough rise at room temperature for 1 hour, then transfer to the refrigerator to rise overnight (my mom uses a tall dough tub, and punches the dough down once or twice as it rises - I usually don’t).
- The day you want to bake the rolls, bring the dough to room temperature for about 30-45 minutes. Divide the dough into even pieces (18 pieces if you want to make plain round rolls, 36 pieces if you want to make split-top rolls, or 54 pieces if you want to make clover rolls). I weigh the dough, scaling to portion each piece evenly - but it’s completely ok to eyeball it, too!
- On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece of dough into a tight ball. The best way to do this is to use the heel of your hand, making a circular motion upwards toward your thumb, then back down toward the base of your hand to round the dough. The more you round it, the tighter the shape will become.
- s you work, transfer the rounded dough to a greased muffin pans (putting 1 round, 2 rounds, or 3 rounds in each cavity depending on how you divided the dough). Cover the rolls loosely with a clean, lightly damp kitchen towel and let rise until visibly puffy, about 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C with the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Remove the towel from the rolls and brush the surface of each roll with melted butter. Bake the rolls until deeply golden brown, 20-25 minutes (a thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 200°F/93°C).
- When the rolls come out of the oven, brush them with the remaining melted butter. Serve warm, immediately (ideally).