Considered the ultimate expression of our Mother's love for us, these rolls were absolute manna, as far as the 5 Scott children were concerned. Made only for high holidays, birthdays or other events deemed worthy, the rolls would cause us children to clump up in the kitchen, watching her knead, roll, butter, sprinkle and shape them. We jockeyed for the closest position as the pans came from the oven, redolent of yeast and butter. Mom allowed us one apiece while they were hot, and none of us was above throwing an elbow if it meant we could get ours first. All of the tongues were burnt, and all of the bellies thankful. They are possibly even better the next day, should any survive that long. Cold sliced turkey with a dab of mayonnaise and some leftover gravy on one of these is an ecstatic experience.
Margaret Hoake was a friend of my mother's, but to my siblings and me, the rolls will always belong to my mother. Making them is one way we commune with her memory. It's also a love note I leave to my own children. Set aside a leisurely morning to make these, and let your kids burn their tongues, just this once.
Margaret Hoake's Crescent Rolls Makes 4 Dozen
2 cups milk
7 cups flour
1 tsp salt
½ cup sugar
1 package dry yeast
½ cup butter (plus another stick, softened)
Scald the milk and set aside to cool. Using ¼ cup of the warm milk and a pinch of sugar, proof the yeast. Add eggs, butter and sugar to the milk and beat. Add flour and salt to mixture until workable, then knead on a floured surface. Place dough in a buttered bowl and cover with buttered wax paper and a hot damp towel. When dough has doubled in size, punch down and knead again. Return to buttered bowl and let rise again until doubled. Divide into 4 equal portions. Roll each into a 12" circle on a floured surface. Spread with softened butter and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Cut round into 12 wedges. Roll each wedge into a crescent and place on a buttered baking pan. Cover with buttered waxed paper and allow to rise a 3rd time. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes and allow to cool on a rack.
Beware of lurking (and potentially combative) roll-snatchers during cooling.