Saturday, November 22, 2014

Nana's Yeast Rolls but Vegan

This is Nana. Nana was the name we called our Great-grandmother on my father's side.  She was a little silver haired firecracker and one of the best cooks I ever met in my life.  I went to Nana's house everyday after school and all summer long. I remember her always being in the kitchen. You could walk into her kitchen and get hot cooked breakfast from 7-9am, lunch from 11-1pm and dinner from 5-7pm and she always had enough for everyone.  Nana's background was German so her idea of soul food was Cabbage and Potatoes, Beef Brisket and her Yeast rolls.  For years as a child I would go to the store for her to get the ingredients for them including dry active yeast (Must be Fleishman's) sugar, All Purpose flour, Crisco and a few other things.  Nana would spend hours working on these rolls and they made the house smell so warm and cozy ( I wish it was a candle scent).  If you ever asked her how they were made she would tell you "a pinch of this, a little bit of that" and never did the mix the same way twice so we could memorize the steps. 
In my freshman year of college Nana died, and although I did master her Cabbage and Potato recipe, her yeast rolls went to her grave with her and my Aunt Clara and I have spent the last 20 or more years looking for that recipe. 
So this month as the weather turned cold and the thought of Nana's yeast rolls came to mind Clara and I each took a shot at the recipe and between the two of us and a little help from the Food Network and The Joy of Cooking cookbook we came up with very similar recipes, mine however is dairy free.  This recipe takes lots of patience and care but once you eat one or three of them you will know that all your hard work was worth it. So without further ado here is my version of my Nana's Yeast rolls
Nana's Yeast Rolls
4 cups Califia Almond Milk
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Safflower Oil
9 cups All Purpose Flour
2 packages (4 1/2 Tsp.) Active Dry Yeast
1 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
1 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
2 Tablespoons Salt
Pour 4 cups of milk into a large stock pot. Add 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of vegetable oil. Stir to combine.Turn the burner on medium to medium-low. Before the mixture boils, turn off the heat and allow this mixture to cool to warm/lukewarm. The mixture will need to be warm enough to be a hospitable environment for the yeast, but not so hot that it kills the yeast and makes it inactive. Feel the side of the pan with the palm of your hand. The pan should feel comfortably warm.
When the mixture is the right temperature add in 4 cups of flour and 2 packages of (4-1/2 teaspoons) of active dry yeast. After the yeast and flour are nicely incorporated, add another 4 cups of flour. Stir together and allow to sit, covered with a dish towel or lid, for an hour. After about an hour it should have almost doubled in size. If it hasn’t changed much, put it in a warm (but turned off ) oven for 45 minutes or so. When it has risen sufficiently add 1 more cup of flour, 1 heaping teaspoon of baking powder, 1 scant teaspoon of baking soda and about 2 tablespoons of salt. Stir until combined.  Let the dough cool for another 30 minutes.
Butter 1 or 2 muffin pans. Form the rolls by pinching off a walnut sized piece of dough and rolling it into a little ball. Repeat and tuck three balls of dough into each buttered muffin cup. Continue until pan is full. Cover and allow to rise for about 1 to 2 hours.
Bake in a 400-degree oven until golden brown, about 17 to 20 minutes.
This recipe makes about 36 rolls and can be frozen to enjoy later or you can share with friends.  If you make them or any of my recipes please send me pictures to