This recipe is one of our family traditions. We don’t know how old it is, but it is at least Depression Era (no milk, no eggs). It was handed down from my Grandma Pearl Nash. She never wrote down the recipe, always measured by memory and her hands. She developed breast cancer in the early 60’s and shortly before she died. My Daddy asked her to measure out all the ingredients so the recipe would not be lost. He carried her into the kitchen, where she carefully placed the ingredients on newsprint paper. My mama (who my kids called Tutu) shifted the ingredients into measuring cups and spoons to record the amounts.
- 2 ½ cups warm water
- 1 ½ tablespoons active dry yeast
- ½ cup white sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- ¾ cup shortening (such as Crisco®)
- 7 cups all-purpose flour, divided, or more as needed
- ½ cup butter, melted
Dissolve yeast in warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Stir in sugar and salt until you see foam rising. Add 3 cups flour and 3/4 cup shortening; mix with the dough hook until the mixture is the consistency of a thick pancake batter.
Fill a pot with hot (not boiling) water.
Remove the mixer bowl and cover it with plastic wrap and a towel. Place the bowl over the pot of hot water, making sure the bottom does not touch the water. Let rise until doubled in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Place the bowl back on your stand mixer and gradually mix in remaining 4 cups flour until dough is smooth and elastic; you may need to add up to 1 additional cup.
Heavily grease two 9×13-inch pans with shortening.
Divide dough into 24 balls. Place 12 balls into each of the prepared pans; cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Let rise in a warm area until doubled in size, about 1 hour; balls will start out at about 1 1/2 inches in diameter but will rise and touch the sides of the pans.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Bake rolls in the preheated oven until golden brown on top, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush melted butter over top.
Preparation time: 30 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Total time: 2 hrs 40 mins
Servings: 24 – Yield: 2 dozen rolls