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Homemade Dinner Rolls Recipe

November 24, 2011

We’ve started the Historic Dinner season here at the farms! What this means is 7 times a week people make reservations to come out to the 1900 farmhouse, and eat fresh food prepared on our wood burning stove. We roast turkey, ham, and pork, prepare potatoes and other vegetables, and even make a pie and cake for dessert. It all tastes excellent, but what I hear the most is how delicious our homemade rolls are.

I don’t know if it’s because people don’t have homemade yeast rolls very often, or if there is something special about ours, but people are always excited to take the recipe home and try it. I thought I would include it here on the blog so you can try it at home, too. Who knows? Maybe you can surprise your family this Thanksgiving with fresh handmade dinner rolls.

Look below the recipe for tips and tricks that I use, and how to spice it up!  I teach new bread bakers this recipe and had 12 year old kids baking it this summer, so I know it is pretty accessible for everyone.

Knittle Bread (a family recipe from Living History Farms)

yield: 2 loaves or approximately 30 rolls

Mix together:

5 teaspoons yeast (2 packets)

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup water

Set this to start

In a different bowl (or a mixer with kneading handle in a modern kitchen) mix:

2 cups warm water

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons salt

2 eggs

1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted

3 cups flour

After this is all mixed add the yeast starter. Then add 5-6 cups more flour.  Mix thoroughly. Let stand for 10 minutes. Knead for 10 minutes, then set to rise. Punch down, let rise. Punch down, form into loaves or rolls, let rise. Bake (see tips below).


Words of wisdom:

Bread baking is an art, and usually something that gets better with practice. Also, this recipe does take some time. If you want rolls for your noon Thanksgiving Dinner I suggest starting the rolls by 9am.


  • Kneading for 10 minutes seems like a lot, but we cooks joke that it is a time to commune with our bread.
  • You can put the bread in a bowl to rise with a towel or a plastic tub with a lid, your choice, but keep in mind that bread likes warm and moist conditions to rise.
  • Fannie Farmer’s cookbook says that “the temperature best suited for its growth is from 65° – 68° F.”
  • This recipe will yield 2 loaves or 30 rolls. However, it is easy to half if you have fewer people at your dinner. Or, you can do what some of the cooks on the 1900 farm like to do: use half for bread and the other half for a delicious sweet treat.  Cinnamon Rolls and Caramel Sticky Rolls are two of our favorites.  Personally, I think this recipe makes good French Toast.
  • You don’t have to go sweet either, we’ve kneaded herbs like rosemary, garlic, and Parmesan into the dough and made bread sticks out of it.  Someone I know thinks it makes really good garlic bread.
  • As with most recipes here I usually  bake these in a wood burning stove, so the time and temperature varies. However, about 30 minutes at 350° should be about right. Just watch for coloring and texture.  If you use your finger to tap the top, they should sound almost hollow inside.

That’s the thing about a good bread recipe, you can tinker with it to your specifications.  If you like wheat bread, make some of the flour wheat flour.  (Bread bakers could spend hours discussing the best and worst kinds of flour to use.  I believe that 1900 farmers would have used what they had, more on that later.)

The Boston Cooking School Cookbook has an entire chapter about bread and different styles and kinds of bread.  Moreover, people who bake bread a lot rarely need recipes anymore.  This one is just an easy one to get you started.  Keep in mind what Fannie Farmer writes about bread;

Bread is the most important article of food, and history tells of its use thousands of years before the Christian era. Many processes have been employed in making and baking; and as a result, from the first flat cake has come the perfect loaf. The study of bread making is of no slight importance, and deserves more attention than it receives.

Considering its great value, it seems unnecessary and wrong to find poor bread on the table; and would that our standard might be raised as high as that of our friends across the water! Who does not appreciate the loaf produced by the French baker, who has worked months to learn the art of bread making!

With the importance she puts on bread, Fannie Farmer would have liked us all to be as diligent as the French baker. Perhaps hand making rolls for Thanksgiving is the first step.

If you don’t feel like baking them yourself, you can come try these rolls at one of our historic dinners either here in the 1900 Farmhouse or in the Tangen House in the 1875 village of Walnut Hill.

Read more posts on the LHF Blog


1900 Farm   In the Kitchen   Recipes


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