How to Make Rich Rolls: A Recipe Bringing Loving Memories of Christmas

Trista Signe Ainsworth

It was a tradition to have a full Swedish Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve in my family. My sweet Aunt Jean would always bring the rolls. It was not a proper dinner without her rolls.

She and her family live on a farm in Oregon, so the work there never ends. They would often arrive a bit late, but she would always have overflowing trays of rolls with her.

The most delightful thing about her rolls other than being delicious was that she brought cinnamon rolls as well as dinner rolls. It gave us an excuse to have a little bit of dessert with dinner. Almost all of us would take one of each. These rolls are soft and pillowy, rich and satisfying. Heat them up before dinner and serve them with lots of butter.

My Aunt is someone with so many talents. With her bright smile, she lights up the room. On Christmas, she always wore red. She had a beautiful singing voice, and I loved it when she and my grandma would sit down at the piano to sing a Christmas song.

In the early days, when my Aunt Jean and Uncle Garold's kids were young, they would come out for dinner on Christmas Eve and then spend the night to continue celebrating on Christmas Day.

It was so much fun to have my cousins Anthony and Paul stay with us. The grown-ups would stay up late talking in the living room while we went to sleep, awaiting Santa's arrival.

In the morning, after a frenzy of opening presents and stockings, it was time for a hearty feast of a breakfast prepared by my Aunt and Uncle. They would always make lots of fresh hash browns, sausage gravy, and so much more!

I remember our griddle overflowing with crispy hash browns and the smell of the sausage gravy in the air. It was a delicious, homestyle breakfast that we looked forward to, a lovely tradition created by our family. It is so amazing how food connects us. It brings us together, and it reminds us of loving memories.

These rolls are called Mor Mor's Rich Rolls because they are a recipe from my Swedish-great grandmother. It means "mother's mother." I love that on one side of my family, I have Swedish ancestors and Norwegian on another. It provides me with a lot of knowledge about different recipes and foods from those traditions.

We would often have potato lefse, a Norwegian potato flatbread rolled out with a patterned roller on Christmas Eve. It is made with mashed potatoes. It is delicious, and I would call it a Norwegian tortilla of sorts.

For many years, we would join another family in early December to have a lefse-making party. We would spend all afternoon making lefse, then have dinner together. We froze the lefse and brought it out to enjoy with butter, cinnamon sugar, and lingonberry jam on Christmas Eve.

This year I made these rolls for our Christmas celebration here at home. It will just be the three of us this year for Christmas. However, these rolls will bring back memories of big family gatherings.

With the following recipe, I made ten dinner rolls and a large cinnamon roll wreath. You can also cut the recipe in half to make fewer rolls. They make a great gift to drop off for family and friends to enjoy this year too!

Mor Mor's Rich Rolls:

1 1/2 cups scalded whole milk

1 cup granulated sugar

6 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons yeast

4 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup melted butter

+ extra butter for greasing the pan, and melted butter for cinnamon rolls

+ extra granulated sugar and ground cinnamon for cinnamon rolls

+ powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla for cinnamon roll icing

  1. Heat the milk until hot to the touch but not boiling. You can heat it on the stove or in the microwave.
  2. Pour the milk over the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  3. Dissolve the yeast in the above mixture.
  4. Stir in 3 cups of the flour.
  5. Let rise, covered with a kitchen towel for 45 minutes.
  6. Beat the eggs lightly in a separate bowl with a whisk. Add them to the risen dough along with the salt and melted butter.
  7. Add the remaining 3 cups of flour. Mix until incorporated.
  8. Cover with a towel and let rise for 1 1/2 hours. Make sure the area is free from drafts. I like to let the dough rise in the oven while it is off, and the door is closed.
  9. The dough should be sticky.
  10. Heat your oven to 350F.
  11. Shape into rolls, or you can create cinnamon rolls or braids with the dough.
  12. For rolls, I like to use a scale and make sure each dough ball weighs the same. For the rolls in the photo above, I used 3 ounces of dough to create each one. Roll them into smooth balls.
  13. Place rolls into a round, buttered pan or a small square pan.
  14. For cinnamon rolls, Roll out a portion of the dough into a large rectangle. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Roll up into a sausage shape. You can cut into individual rolls or form a "cinnamon roll wreath."
  15. Bake the rolls and cinnamon rolls for 25 to 30 minutes. They should be golden brown on the tops. Make sure that there are not doughy spots in between the rolls. You can check this with a knife. Put in for a few more minutes to bake all the way through.
  16. As soon as the cinnamon rolls come out of the oven, brush glaze on them.

Cinnamon Roll Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1+ tablespoons whole milk

Mix the ingredients in a small bowl with a whisk. Add more milk for a thinner glaze.

My wish for you this Christmas is that you enjoy making these special rolls for your family. If you have extra, share them by dropping them off at neighbor's homes. Spread the love and joy of this holiday season through the food that you share!


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I am a local food and drink adventurer! Find out the latest about delicious food around Portland, Hillsboro, Beaverton, Cornelius, Forest Grove, Oregon, and beyond.

Hillsboro, OR

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