Butter-Cream Dinner Rolls

    Butter-Cream Dinner Rolls

Early September, just after Labor Day – I’m already relishing the wonderful thoughts of my favorite time of year: Fall.  There’s HBCU college football; spawning of the largemouth bass and crappies in the lakes; the fish markets will soon have more black sea bass and spots on ice – and I will be a thoroughly happy camper!

For my fried fish, I want a wedge of cornbread, some fluffy rice with some Carolina Gumbo (see note below on that everybody-eats-it-in SC Carolina Gumbo!) on top of it. When I’m having that early-morning fall breakfast before getting out on the lake, I want some hot biscuits, butter and pure cane syrup with my scrambled eggs and sausage patties or country ham.  Of course, some sausage gravy for those biscuits will do just fine for my breakfast meat course also!  For dinner, I truly miss my Aunt Emma T’s hot yeast dinner rolls – something I didn’t learn to make!  Aaaaaaah, but fellow foodies, I’m some kinda dangerous guy now, ‘cause I’ve learned to make hot yeast dinner rolls!  And, that is what this blog entry is all about – light, fluffy, flavorful hot yeast rolls that are rich, and will make ya’ slap ya’self for eating so many!


I did my rolls in my cast-iron skillet.

You can use any rectangular baking dish if you prefer.

Here’s the story –

I’ve always loved French baguettes and use to stay in the HEB Central Market on Lovers Lane during my years in Dallas. They make them fresh every day.  And, of course, while in there, I’d get my yeast rolls and freshly-made loaves of Black Russian bread for sandwiches as well.  All these years, I’ve been wishing that I could make my own bread!  Well low and behold, about four weeks ago I saw a simple recipe for a crusty loaf of bread that was hailed as absolutely foolproof.  I made it, and sure enough it was indeed foolproof!  This gave me a confidence like I’ve never had before!  After just one try at breadmaking, I then got the “big head”!!!  Suddenly, I going to experiment and make my own bread recipe!  What was I thinking?  Flavor like the sweet Hawaiian breads; wonderful texture like the Parker House rolls; beautiful color and height like my Aunt Emma T’s hot yeast dinner rolls!  Wah-lah, I would think of how I make a pound cake:  Butter, milk, and sugar!

So, what I ended up with was a ratio calculation based upon that foolproof loaf I had made a couple weeks earlier. To that, I added some flavor and richness, but kept the roll light by increasing the amount of active yeast for rising; reducing the amount of flour to liquid ratio to keep them fluffy while still having the substance of bread!  What I ended up with was what I now call “Mack’s Butter-Cream Dinner Rolls”! Oh my goodness, these are good!  And, I assure you – they are also foolproof!  There’s no whole lots of fuss with the kneading and all that time-consuming rising, punching down, rising again, and such other nonsense that only leads to frustration of your waiting to delve into the wonderful end product!

I’m a member of several social-media cooking “groups” and showed photographs of these rolls already. I’m including all the photographs of the process to help you understand what I’m trying to say in the instructions I give for making these wonderful rolls!  But, first the recipe –

5 1/2 cups of bread flour (that I divided into 2 cups, and 3 cups and ½ cup)

4 TABLEspoons of active dry yeast (I do not use the quick yeast)

2 cups warm water

1/3 cup unsalted butter (melted)

2 cups heavy whipping cream

½ cup granulated sugar

½ teaspoon salt

Okay, let’s go to the kitchen and pull these items from the pantry and fridge. Let’s get out tools off the shelf, out of the drawers and cabinets, and make these wonderful rolls I’ve created – your family is going to sing your praises at dinner tonight!  They’ll think it took you forever to make them!  I won’t mention a word to them about the ease of making them, and neither should you – accept the praise; you deserve it!!!

Okay, let’s get a large bowl and butter it like you would a cake pan before pouring in the batter. Let’s also get another large bowl for the initial mix of ingredients.

You will need a small sauce pan; a cast-iron skillet; and a loaf pan. (This recipe will make 12 nice-size dinner rolls; and a loaf of bread for use for sandwiches later!)  If you only want to make the rolls, or only the loaf of bread, then make only half of this recipe.  If you don’t have a cast-iron skillet; if exact same-size rolls are important to you, then you will need a medium-size ice cream scoop and a 9 x 12 rectangular baking dish as well.

We are in the kitchen, and here’s how we’re going to make these rolls –

  1. In a large bowl, add the 4 tablespoons of active dry yeast, the ½ teaspoon of salt and the ½ cup of granulated sugar. Use a hand whisk and stir to mix it together. Then add the 2 cups of warm water to it. Wait for about two minutes – then add and stir in the 2 cups of bread flour. Cover with a very hot damp dish towel; sit on the counter; and leave it alone for 10 minutes.
  2. Now add the melted butter, the 2 cups of heavy whipping cream and the 3 cups of flour. Using a large wooden spoon or a large rubber spatula, fold in and mix. Now, pour this mixture of very soft dough into the large buttered bowl. Cover with a very hot damp dish towel; leave on counter for 30 minutes to rise.
  3. Oh wow, it’s dinner-roll time now. Turn your oven on and allow it to heat up to 500-degrees.
  4. Lightly sprinkle some of the remaining ½ cup of flour on your counter. Pour the dough onto the flour and knead for a minute or so, just to dry the dough a tiny bit. If dough is still too wet, sprinkle a little more flour. When you are done, this dough should be very very light, but dry! There is no more kneading to be done after this – hoorah!
  5. Using a medium-size ice cream scoop, scoop up the dough and rolls into a ball. Place in your cast-iron skillet or baking dish, whichever you’re using.  Note: If you are using your cast-iron skillet, you may not need to butter it since it’s probably already seasoned.  If you are using a rectangular baking dish, you need to butter it like you would a cake pan before pouring in the batter!
  6. If you’ve made the full recipe, you will now have about half your dough still on the floured counter. Using your fingers, “squish” it together and make a “sausage-type” roll of it and place it into your buttered loaf pan!
  7. Sit both of these on top your range and open your oven door slightly. Let the rolls and the bread loaf rise for about 15 minutes or so. You will know that its ready to go into the oven because the rolls will begin to slight touch each other!                                                                         Rolls slightly touch
  8. Turn the oven down to 375-degrees, close the door and when the oven gets back to temperature, put in your rolls and loaf of bread. Bake for 20-30 minutes, dependent upon your altitude and/or oven. Tops of rolls should be golden brown as in the photograph shown below!

Notice the beautiful brown tops on these rolls once they are baked.


Notice the beautiful texture of these rolls when opened.


Folks, I simply cannot describe the deliciousness that you’ve just baked! And, don’t you dare tell your family how easy it was! Sit yourself down and enjoy your dinner AND you praises!!!!

The Way to Cook: Eggs (scrambled)


“The Way to Cook: Eggs (scrambled)”

Is there really any better total protein than the incomparable egg? The debatable answer to that question I will leave to others. I would much prefer to enjoy that wonderful food in a most glorious yet simple way – scrambled! Yes, the basic scrambled egg that we grew up on is both a simple food to make and when made correctly, is glorious on an indulgent level! The absolute first cardinal rule to perfect scrambled eggs is very low heat! You cannot rush and cook wonderful scrambled eggs in a minute or so—just ain’t gonna happen folks! Think eggs; custard; eggs; custard –get the picture— it’s stirring and patience!

Whether I’m having them for breakfast, a light lunch, or my entrée for dinner, it is the technique of preparing them that makes all the difference in the world. In fact, I’ve become so finicky about my eggs that I am not at all hesitant about sending them back for proper preparation and presentation when dining out! So, let me tell you my way of cooking this creamy velvet of a dish.

First and foremost, I do like decadence when it comes to scrambled eggs! I want rich unsalted pure butter in them; I want no whites showing in the finished dish; and I want a small curd that’s oh-so-creamy. (The creaminess is not generated from adding milk; it’s the true creaminess of the egg itself that you want.) The reasons I use unsalted butter are twofold: There’s to be only one person in charge of the seasoning in my kitchen—that would be me, not the maker of the butter; as well as the fact that I like for the richness and quality of the butter to stand on its own!

One final quip before we are off to the kitchen: Unless I am making a sandwich that calls for it, I don’t want a scrambled egg that’s dry or with brown scorch spots as a result of overcooking! My goal every time is a creamy velvet-textured small-curd delight akin to a superb cottage cheese!

So, how do I achieve this end result? Well, as Aunt Emma T and Bunch would tell you: Consistency of technique brings learned perfection! So, let’s go to the kitchen and cook some “learned perfection” of scrambled eggs! (Note: You can read the story of these two fantastic cooks in volume one of the series – “Ham Bones: Memoirs of a Southern Cook!)

First, let’s get three large eggs; pull out a fork from the utensil drawer; a miniature hand-held whisk; a medium-size bowl; a small sauce pan; iodized table salt; and a stick of very high-quality European-style butter! Ah, the anticipation!

Though I keep my eggs refrigerated, I crack them and let them sit in a covered bowl for 20 minutes or so on the kitchen counter before working with them. Immediately afterwards, I turn on my stove to its highest setting and set my sauce pan on it for about 2 minutes—no more than that mind you! This is to temper my pan! Then, I move the pan to another eye on the stove where there is no heat happening; then turn my burner eye down to low! I now return my sauce pan to the burner that’s on low heat and put in two tablespoons of butter!
(Remember, I told you I like decadence in my scrambled eggs; but you can use one tablespoon of butter if you prefer. When I make these eggs for friends who have to watch their cholesterol, I actually use a margarine that is made with olive oil – and I call the finished dish ”Scrambled Eggs a la Olive Grove “– they are divine!)

Now, add to the eggs a liberal pinch of iodized salt (I use about ¼ teaspoons for three large eggs) and with great vigor, whisk the eggs profusely until well scrambled. (Now, now, boys and girls – don’t cheat! I do not want you to pull out your blender and blend the eggs, as blended eggs are not scrambled eggs! If you blend, you will not get the correct texture to which we are striving! Instead, you will get a fluffy soufflé-type omelet of an egg! I love omelet, but that’s another post at a later date—different technique!)

So, now that you’ve done your whole-arm exercise for the day, take a look at your sauce pan. Your butter should have slowly melted; a shallow sea of luscious yellowness with no browned butter. If your butter browned, you do not have your burner low enough. The butter should melt very slowly!

All at once, pour the entire bowl of salted eggs into the melted butter and turn your heat up — ONE notch only! Give the eggs about 30 seconds, and suddenly like a patient parent, use your fork to stir those eggs from center point out until you reach the outer edge of your sauce pan. Continue to do this from center point covering the complete circumference of the pan all of about 5 minutes. Keep stirring – do not let a flat skin set on the bottom of your pan – stir boys and girls, stir!!!

You should now begin to see small curds! Make sure you have the tines of the fork pointed downwards and from the center, start slowly stirring again – eggs will be wet (rather liquid yet) – but, take them off the heat completely and stir once more.  Finally, use the fork to now flip and flop the eggs within the pan then onto the plate and using the fork to finalize your curd size! If you removed the eggs from the heat timely, you will see a plate of soft creamy velvet-textured scrambled eggs that will be a love sonnet for your pallet! Enjoy!

All best wishes for good eating!


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Hello Cooking/Dining World!

Welcome to the Ham Bones Books blog!

I am author J.D. McDuffie, author of Ham Bones, an amazing book of true home-cooking southern recipes. I look forward to posting and chatting about all great southern cooking recipes, styles, and methods!


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