When you think Christmas baking, you think cookies, right?
And when you think Thanksgiving, the first thing that springs to mind is probably pie.
Or not. If you're a bread "apprecianado" like me, the very first Thanksgiving baking decision you need to make is, "Which dinner rolls will I make this year?"
Maybe you have your favorite, the rolls you make year in and year out. You know, the ones you have to bring to the table, lest everyone give you the sad eyes and fading smile. "You didn't make your rolls this year? Oh, I was SO looking forward to them..."
For me, those rolls had always been Golden Pull-Apart Butter Buns – until last year, when I pulled a fast one on the crowd and substituted Amish Dinner Rolls: a slightly heavier, slightly moister, just-as-delicious roll.
And guess what? No one knew the difference. The whole family, from 3-year-old Elizabeth to 90-something Gram, was uniformly happy with my "squishy white rolls."
And that's the goal after all, right? Happiness. Thankfulness. For pumpkin pie, the love of family, shelter from the storm, and the freedom to gather together. For safe travel (sorry for your troubles, Buffalo!); and for a day spent relaxing (you have our sympathy, all of you who have to work).
And last but certainly not least – for dinner rolls.
What rolls will you be baking this year? Our King Arthur Flour Bakery churns out thousands of dinner rolls these last few days before Thanksgiving. Their recipe: Walter Sands Basic White Bread, an entirely fitting tribute to the Sands family, whose energies built and nurtured King Arthur Flour for over two centuries.
Pictured at the top of this post, with some of those thousands of Walter Sands rolls, are Lidia, Lucas, Angie, and Rob, four members of our crazy-busy Bakery crew.
MaryJane Robbins (MJ, as you'll often see her referred to here) is one of our long-time bloggers and a member of our customer service baker's team. She's someone you may have connected with on our baker's hotline, or via live chat or email. A talented cookie decorator (and Easter-egg artist), as well as a cake fiend, MJ says flat-out, hands-down, no-question: Big Batch Quick Dinner Rolls are a given on her Thanksgiving table.
Says MJ, "Our family loves making sandwiches with Thanksgiving leftovers. Having plenty of these rolls on hand means sammies for everyone!"
Sue Gray, a long-time King Arthur Flour employee-owner, started in our Baker's Store, then moved to the test kitchen and eventually became head of product development, a post she's held for many years. If you enjoy any of our many delicious mixes or wildly successful gluten-free products – thank Sue.
These rolls – aptly named Sue's Favorite Potato Rolls – are a Thanksgiving must-have in the Gray house. "Butter in the dough plus extra butter brushed over their crust while they're warm from the oven really take these over the top," says Sue.
Susan Miller, director of our Baking Education Center, is a seasoned, devoted – one would even say passionate – bread baker. When asked if she has a favorite Thanksgiving roll, she's quick to enthuse about light, crusty rolls made with an overnight starter. Like, say, these Crusty European-Style Hard Rolls.
Dream rolls, indeed!
OK, here I am, in my usual pre-Thanksgiving stance: hauling rolls out to the car. I haven't spent Thanksgiving at home for 38 years, so "Let's roll" has a double meaning when Turkey Day comes around.
You've already read about my sly roll substitution from last year: this year, I'm making sure everyone's happy with those Amish Dinner Rolls, but adding two more types as well:
Golden Pumpkin Dinner Rolls, and Sour Cream & Chive Potato Rolls.
The former are light-textured, elusively sweet, and bright gold. The latter, extra-flavorful from their sour cream and fresh chives (surprisingly, still green and growing in my frost-browned garden). Both are solidly in the "squishy white roll" camp – so I have every hope my family, despite their new devotion to Amish Dinner Rolls, will give them a try.
So, that's the roll roundup from King Arthur Flour, here in cold (but thankfully not yet snowbound) Vermont. What rolls are you baking this year? Please share with us and your fellow readers in "comments," below.
And whatever you bake, wherever you go, just remember: give thanks for the food in your larder, the roof over your head, and the loving companions around your table.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
If you're still pulling together your planning, be sure to consult our comprehensive Thanksgiving Baking Guide for recipes, timeline, and more!
My special thanks to colleague Julia Reed, who took most of the pictures in this post.