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Classic Yeast Rolls Recipe

With all this cold winter weather we’ve had around here lately in New Orleans, I’ve been loving to bake. Having the oven on is a great way to heat the house.  As with a lot of folks in New Orleans, our house isn’t all that well-insulated so we battle the cold all winter long. This classic yeast rolls recipe really hits the spot during those cold snaps.


This recipe is also for January’s #TwelveLoaves challenge. The challenge set forth by Lora of the Cake Duchess this month is clean slate bread. Getting back to basics with baking. I thought this was the perfect time to bring out a version of my mom’s classic yeast roll recipe.  This recipe is adapted originally from the Farm Journal’s Homemade Bread book (copyright 1969!). My mom has her own version and this is the one that I’ve formulated over the years.  It’s a very good, reliable recipe and really didn’t need much tweaking.

Speaking of my mom and bread, I just have to say that my mom was (and is) a fantastic cook when I was growing up. She cooked pretty much every night and we always ate very well. She made us these yeast rolls quite often and they are a treasured childhood memory.  While these are totally delicious, the version she does stuffed with ground beef, pepperoni and cheddar cheese is mind-blowing.  I’ll have to do my best to recreate those for you one day.  It’s a classic in our family.


Technique-wise, this recipe is really pretty easy.  I’ve adapted it from a hand-mixed version to a stand mixer version thus making it even more easy to have delicious homemade yeast rolls.  Over 2/3 of the three hours listed as prep time below is inactive time – time that the yeast spends rising.  So while this does take some time from start to finish, it leaves plenty of time for doing things in between like relaxing… or cleaning the bathroom.  Ha.

Since this is a yeast roll recipe, the yeast is a very important component. The yeast is bloomed very simply in warm water. As you can see below in the course of five minutes, the yeast is fed by the water and starts to get bubbly and activated. This reaction is the yeast coming back to life, ready to work on rising the bread dough it’s about to go into.


Something else I like about this recipe is that it uses all purpose flour. No need for bread flour. Which is good because this roll remains a little more tender than breads with bread flour. I also use shortening in this recipe, staying true to the old-school 1960’s bread-making style. If you don’t wish to use shortening, you can use butter instead.

As I said before, this recipe takes a while because the yeast needs to rise twice, for a total of about two hours and fifteen minutes. Below you can see the bread after the first rise and how it looks after it’s been kneaded (step #9 in the recipe). Like many roll recipes, this one calls for the bread to be portioned into rolls before it goes into it’s second proof (yeast rising).


I’m a big fan of butter on bread so I like to butter these rolls both before they go into the oven and after they come out of the oven. The application of melted butter prior to baking helps the roll produce a brown and crisp crust on the outside.  The buttering after baking gives the roll a long-lasting soft, tender crumb.


While this bread can be used as a savory dish accompaniment, my favorite way to have it is slathered with yet more butter on the inside and topped with some homemade satsuma marmalade. If you don’t have any on hand, fear not – these rolls taste great with just about any type of jam you can find. If you’re keeping these more than one day, simply pop them into the fridge in an air-tight container and reheat in the microwave for 45 seconds while covered with a damp paper towel. The butter on the outside helps to keep the bread soft and moist, and the rolls actually taste very good reheated that way.


Now that you’re pining for some fresh baked bread, on to the recipe!

Yield: 12 rolls

Classic Yeast Rolls Recipe

This classic yeast rolls recipe produces tender, tasty rolls. These are versatile enough to serve alongside dinner or to eat alone with butter and jam for a light breakfast. Enjoy!


  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons shortening
  • 1-3/4 ounce package of yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons melted salted butter


  1. Combine milk, sugar, kosher salt and shortening in a small sauce pan and just barely heat, until shortening melts. Set aside for the moment.
  2. Sprinkle yeast on the warm water and stir. Allow to sit for 5 minutes so yeast can bloom.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the milk mixture and one cup of flour. With the paddle attachment, stir on medium for one minute. Add the yeast/water and egg and stir again on medium until just smooth.
  4. Continue with the paddle attachment on medium speed and add two cups of flour. Mix well and then switch to the dough hook.
  5. Using the dough hook, add two more cups of flour and mix until dough is smooth. It will still be rather sticky.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and manually knead in the last half cup of flour. The dough will still be a little sticky but will be workable with your hands. Add more flour if you feel dough is still too sticky. It shouldn't stick to your hands when you're kneading.
  7. Spray a bowl with nonstick spray and place dough in bowl. Flip dough once and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  8. Allow to rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour and a half.
  9. Turn out on a lightly floured surface and toss to coat with flour. Knead about 15 strokes until bread is smooth.
  10. Shape into 2" balls and place evenly spaced apart in a greased pan.
  11. Brush with melted butter then cover again and let rise another 45 minutes.
  12. About 15 minutes before the rolls are ready to go into the oven, preheat to 375 ºF.
  13. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Run a cold stick of butter over the rolls to coat with butter after coming out of the oven.
  14. Turn rolls out onto wire rack and serve hot.

Store leftover rolls in the fridge in an air tight container. Reheat rolls in microwave for 45 seconds covered with a damp paper towel.

Prep:3 hours

Cook:30 minutes

Total:3 hours, 30 minutes

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