Thanksgiving in my family is a big deal. Usually anywhere from 35-50 people, mostly related (my mom is one of nine… two generations later and there are a lot of cousins to go around), gathered together in one home. Several turkeys, Pop’s special stuffing, potatoes, veggies, tons of pies, you get the idea. I’d like to say that my family is adventurous, but honestly when it comes to Thanksgiving the menu has been static for as long as I can remember. One of the stars of the menu are the dinner rolls we serve, year after year, the same way. They are called “Butterhorns”, and resemble a crescent roll in appearance but are far superior in texture and flavor. I think the recipe comes from one of those classic cookbooks (the Joy or Betty Crocker or something like that) but I got it over the phone from my Aunt Eunie and scribbled it in an old notebook I use for kitchen notes. She gave me two bits of advice that first year: Use plenty of REAL butter and Don’t. Change. The. Recipe. At. All.
I was a little nervous that first year because clearly expectations were high and I hadn’t quite mastered yeast breads at that point back in the mid 2000’s, but I did as I was told, used lots of butter and followed the recipe, and things went well. Or so I assume, because I’ve been asked to bring these rolls several years since!
4 1/2 -5 1/2 cups flour
1 package or 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening OR butter
2 tsp salt
In a small saucepan, combine milk, sugar, shortening/butter and salt. Heat over medium to low heat until shortening/butter is just melted. Remove from heat and cool to 110-115 degrees.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 2 1/2 cups flour with the yeast. When cooled, add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and mix well with a hand mixer or stand mixer. Lightly beat the eggs with a fork and add to the flour-milk mixture. Beat for three minutes at high speed. If using a stand mixer, use the regular paddle attachment for this part. After the three minutes, switch to the dough hook (or a large spoon if using a hand mixer).
Add two more cups of flour and mix well. Add 1/2 to one more cup of flour, until the dough appears soft and elastic and pulls away from the bowl. The dough will be soft and slightly sticky, but not gloppy and tacky.
Turn the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and turn once to coat. Let the dough rise in a warm place covered with a damp towel for 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.
When risen, punch down and divide into three balls. Let rest for ten minutes, covered with the damp towel. Roll each ball to a 12-14″ circle and cut each circle into 12 triangles, like a pie. Roll each slice from wide end to pointy end to form a crescent shape. Arrange point down on a baking sheet. Let rise for one hour or until slightly puffy looking.
Brush with melted butter.
Bake at 400 degrees for 8-12 minutes or until lightly browned.
On a regular day I’d never suggest this but trust me: brush with melted butter (again).
Find a friend, or some family members, and enjoy!
You probably won’t need to worry about storing these as they will all get gobbled up BUT you can store them in an airtight container for up to three days. I’d recommend a quick jaunt in the toaster or microwave if more than 24 hours old to refresh and soften just before eating.
True story: When I was about 7, my uncle got a camcorder, back when taking your own videos was a BIG deal. There is a video of the “kids table” that year – whoever was taping asked us to say something we were thankful for. One after another, we all said “the butter rolls”. I’m not sure if we were just too zonked out from turkey to come up with something novel, or if we thought it was a funny joke for the camera, but either way I always think of this video when I bake these rolls. Butter rolls or not, I am glad to contribute to such an awesome family gathering that has carried on for decades and hope it continues for many years to come.