Yeast Roll Dough (Crescent Rolls)


This recipe is adapted from the Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book Grandma Dorothy gave me for my 12th birthday. With a couple little tweaks, it is also the base for the Cinnamon Rolls and Hot Cross Buns. Depending on how you cut the dough, you can make 2-3 dozen rolls from this amount.

1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 tbsp (2 envelopes) yeast
2 cups milk
1/2 cup butter
2 tbsp butter
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tbsp yeast
c. 7 cups flour

Stir together ˝ cup lukewarm water and 2 Tablespoons (2 envelopes) active dry yeast.

In a large mixing bowl combine ˝ cup butter and 2 cups scalded milk. I usually use 2/3 cups dry skim milk powder, dissolved in ˝ cup cold water, then add 1 and ˝ cups boiling water. This gives 2 cups milk hot enough to melt the butter, but cool enough to reach lukewarm temperature much sooner. You could also use 1 cup evaporated milk plus 1 cup boiling water.

When milk has cooled to lukewarm, whisk in two eggs, ˝ cup sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, yeast mixture. Gradually add enough flour to make a kneadable dough. The dough will be sticky at first, add a little more flour when kneaded until it becomes smooth and no longer sticks to your hands. This dough is quicker to knead up than regular bread dough. Usually I do the kneading in the mixing bowl and then round it up into a ball and leave it to rise, covered with a damp cloth, until doubled in size, usually about 45 minutes to an hour. Punch down the dough and divide it into two or three equal sized balls. If you want to be exact, weigh the dough. I don’t. Round the dough into smooth balls and put #2 (and #3) back in the rising bowl, covered. Let #1 rest, also covered to relax the gluten for a few minutes. Subsequent dough will have rested while you roll out #1.

Have ready 1 tablespoon room temperature butter for each dough ball.

On a lightly floured surface, roll your dough ball out into a regular circle, turning the dough as you go along. It should be about 12-14 inches across. Spread your disc with butter and cut it through the center into 12 equal pie slice wedges with a sharp knife. Starting from the wide end, roll toward the center, buttered side in. I usually twist the point around so the sticky inner dough holds the point from unrolling in baking. This does not always work, but it helps. Gently curve each roll into a crescent and place with pointed end underneath and evenly spaced on the baking sheet, an inch or so apart. Cover and set aside to rise, about 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Repeat with the next dough ball. Usually I wind up having the first tray go in the oven as I finish rolling out and forming the second tray, and then the second tray is ready to go into the oven when the first is ready to come out. The rolls are ready when nicely browned, but you are the one who gets to decide what “nicely” means. Enjoy!