Miss Mary Loyd Young (actually, I think, she was a Mrs., but it's the South, so she gets called Miss) was a standout cook in a church-full of standout cooks at First United Methodist Church in Marion, Arkansas. If she is still alive, she must be some past 80 by now; if she is, I hope she's not online and reading this site, else I'll be in big trouble for either getting her age wrong, or telling it if I got it right. In any event, when the Methodist church served the pre-Thanksgiving turkey dinner every year (social event of the season, and they paid for the Fellowship Hall with five years' worth of it), Miss Mary Loyd always made the rolls. 1,200 of them. Because they stopped selling tickets at 600, and everyone got two rolls. No more. And no one passed up the second one. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, I go to my Methodist cookbook and turn to the page that's the most spotted with water and butter and flour and such, and I make Miss Mary Loyd's rolls. In between, I use the same recipe to make loaf bread on cold Saturday mornings when I just want a treat, and rolls with some ruffles and flourishes (rosemary in the batter, or stuffed with grated cheese, or shaped like a biscuit and baked on a cookie sheet for ham sliders), or cinnamon rolls, for other special occasions. Thanksgiving and Christmas, though, get Miss Mary Loyd's original recipe because some things are just about tradition. I think she'd like that. - Kayb —Kayb
Test Kitchen Notes
This recipe made an absolutely perfect, light, airy, church supper dinner roll. A sweet, crispy exterior crust gives way to layers of yeasty light, airy, flaky goodness. I think the roll needs a touch more salt, and next time will brush them with melted butter when they come out of the oven, and sprinkle on Maldon or other crunchy salt. A few other details: the dough was quite damp when I first scraped it out of the bowl, but after resting for 10 minutes, was no longer sticky. The dough doubled in size in 90 minutes. After the first rise, I cut the dough into sixteen equal pieces and tucked them into a 10" round cake pan lined with buttered parchment. The second rise was finished in 30 minutes, after which I baked them at 375° for 25 minutes. A very nice dough with a sweetness that will surely make an exceptional sticky/cinnamon roll. —MrsWheelbarrow
all-purpose flour (Miss Mary Loyd specified Gold Medal or Pillsbury, so that's what I use)
Sift together two cups of the flour with the sugar, and stir in the yeast. With mixer at low speed, blend shortening or butter into the flour mixture.
Add the hot water (the hottest it comes from your tap, Miss Mary Loyd specified) all at once, with mixer running.
Add the egg, and continue mixing.
Stir in remaining two cups flour with a wooden spoon, to make a soft dough. Knead lightly on a floured board and shape into a ball. Put into an oiled bowl, cover with a towel, and allow to rise in a warm spot until doubled, about two hours.
Punch dough down. At this point it can either be refrigerated or shaped in rolls or loaves and allowed to rise a second time until doubled.
Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven until barely brown. May be frozen after baking and reheated to serve.
I'm a business professional who learned to cook early on, and have expanded my tastes and my skills as I've traveled and been exposed to new cuisines and new dishes. I love fresh vegetables, any kind of protein on the grill, and breakfasts that involve fried eggs with runny yolks. My recipes tend toward the simple and the Southern, with bits of Asia or the Mediterranean or Mexico thrown in here and there. And a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on a float in the lake, as pictured, is a pretty fine lunch!