There are dinner rolls, then there are “Dinner Rolls” – said with wide eyes and groans of ardent love. These are the second kind. My Mom was a fantastic, knock-your-socks-off cook. When she brought dishes to potlucks or when we hosted Sunday dinners at our house, everyone would always rant and rave over her food.
This recipe I’m sharing with you today is one of her highly-coveted dinner roll recipes. The rolls my Dad was always around to “taste test” as soon as they popped out of the oven. Mom had a few amazing bread recipes – and maybe I’ll share more of them one day – but this one was by far the one we loved the most.
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Let’s Chat Dinner Rolls
Before I tell you the secret ingredient, I want to tell you more about these babies. They’re soft, slightly sweet and they freeze beautifully! My Mom would make triple batches of these, taking pan after pan out of the oven, bag them up and freeze them. As long as you take them out to thaw the night before (or the morning of, if you’ll be eating them for supper), you’ll be golden. And delicious. And soft. And buttery.
Oh. Sorry. I got carried away thinking about the rolls. 😉
So….I know you’re curious to know what the “secret ingredient” is. Don’t run away. Promise?
It’s prepared Butternut Squash.
I SAID DON’T RUN AWAY! Hear me out and give these a chance, even if you don’t like squash. I swear to you, you can’t even tell these have squash in them. It simply lends a velvety, buttery smooth texture to the rolls.
Now, I said these call for “prepared squash” and by that, I simply mean a butternut squash that’s been roasted, scooped out and then whipped with a half stick of butter, a big spoonful (approx. 3 Tbsp) of brown sugar and salted to taste. Mom would serve this as a side dish one Sunday and by the next Sunday, the leftovers would be transformed into these heavenly dinner rolls. These rolls are magical in that they could convince even the pickiest kid (I won’t name names) to eat his lima beans. 😉
NOTE: I adore all kinds of squash, but butternut prepared this way is my most favorite.
So, after all that (The Longest Intro Ever), let’s dig in to how to create these heavenly dinner rolls for yourself.
Consider Yourself Warned
*DISCLAIMER: If you are trying to avoid carbs or breads, do NOT under any circumstances make these. I cannot be held responsible for anything that might happen once you smell these coming out of the oven. You think you’ll be strong and be able to resist. Let me tell you, that is a lie. You will cave. And it will be delicious. And totally worth it. Don’t ask me how I know this.
Ingredients for the Best Dinner Rolls Ever
- 1 c. cooked and prepared winter squash (see above)
- 1/2 c. sugar
- 1 c. milk
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 c. butter (1 stick)
- 1/2 c. water
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 pkg. yeast
- 6 1/2-7 1/2 c. white flour
Mixing up the Deliciousness
Combine first 6 ingredients (cooked squash through water) *that sounds weird, but you know what I mean* in a glass bowl and heat til scalded. About 5-6 minutes in the microwave. Your cooking times may vary, depending on your microwave. Basically, you just want the mixture heated until it’s just below the boiling point. DON’T boil it. (Boiled milk. Ew.)
Stir your mixture thoroughly, so it’s a consistent texture/color.
Set aside to cool until just warm.
Once cooled a bit, add two beaten eggs and stir.
In a large bowl, (I use my kitchenaid bowl) pour your 1 package of yeast on top of 3 cups of the flour. Stir to combine, then add the warm squash mixture.
Turn on your kitchenaid and mix well. (You can, of course do this by hand. Whatever floats your boat.)
As you’re mixing the dough, continue to add the remaining flour, a half cup at a time, allowing each addition to mix thoroughly before adding more flour.
Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. This is a slightly sticky dough.
Once the kneading is complete, leave the dough in the bowl of the kitchenaid (or place in a greased bowl, if you’ve kneaded by hand on the counter top) and cover with a clean dish towel. Let rise for one hour, or until double in size. If you want to grease the inside of your kitchenaid bowl, feel free, but this is not essential.
The Happy Little Dough Balls
After the dough has risen, you can form the rolls free hand OR you can be more precise and cut the dough ball into thirds. Then cut each third into twelve equal-sized pieces. You guessed it. This recipe yields *approximately* 3 dozen rolls. (give or take, depending on how big you make them – I got 34 out of this batch) 😉
I’m not patient enough to try to perfectly portion 36 dinner rolls, so I always just “eyeball it”.
There are lots of different ways to form rolls, and they all result in delicious, home baked goodness. Pretend you’re playing with playdough and just have fun with them. Even if they look a little funny on the pan, they’ll rise and be gorgeous. Just try to make them relatively uniform in size so they all bake evenly.
*If it’s absolutely going to drive you crazy to not see how I form the dinner rolls, you can watch this short video where I show you how I roll them—>
But remember, this is just one of many ways to form rolls. Do whatever works for you. Just have fun with the process. 😉
Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise again 40-60 minutes.
Bake at 400*F for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown on top.
Can you hear that? That’s the sound of angels singing.
Or is the the sound of my jeans groaning?
Whatever it is, these rolls are worth it. Totally. Worth it.
Slathered with gobs of butter; drizzled with honey; filled with homemade jam, or stuffed with peanut butter – whatever way you like them, they’re sure to disappear fast. Even my husband, who does NOT like any kind of squash, loves these rolls.
*Authors Note* – As mentioned above, if you can manage to set some aside from being inhaled immediately, these little lovelies freeze beautifully. 9-12 rolls (depending on how big they are) fit nicely into gallon sized freezer bags and will keep for a few months in the freezer. Perfect to pull out in the morning for dinner in the evening.
Ideal alongside a crock of soup; a roast dinner; a casserole or a stew, these are another Favorite from my family to yours.
Are you a fan of winter squash? I’d love to know.