My grandmother used to make the most wonderful dessert. She called them “butter rolls” and I called them her “milk rolls.”
She once told me that her mother made them for her and the siblings. My great-grandmother gave birth to 12 children, two sets of twins within 18 months. Three of the children died at birth, the first set of twins were born at 7 months and the second set were born at 8 months. A boy lived from the second set of twins. There were 9 children in the home.
My grandmother’s family was very poor and lived as sharecroppers. The whole family worked as farmhands. My grandmother began cooking from a very young age, on a wood stove. She was so small, she would stand on wooden milk crates to reach the stove and cook. She shared with me that she was responsible for getting the noon meal on the table before the men got in from the field. Most of the farm hands, as well as the large family, ate lunch with them. She was so young she could not yet tell time, and she knew what time to have it ready by a shadow cast from a post on the porch. She said they had a mark on the wall and she knew that table better be set by the time the shadow hit that mark. She remembered that they were limited on provisions, but there always seemed to be enough to go around. This simple recipe is made from the provisions they would have had on hand: milk, butter, flour, and sugar. While simplistic, this recipe is amazing, just like everything else my grandmother made!
I am so glad she carried on the tradition of making these for her family. This was my very favorite dessert she made!! This is what I requested every year when my “Nonie” cooked for my birthday!
This is the first time I have made them to any extent of success. They require a pie crust and while I have found very few things I can’t cook, one of the two is a pie crust. (The other is fried chicken and we will visit that story when I tackle making it again.)
For my birthday this year, I was feeling quite nostalgic and I decided to try to make the Butter Rolls. I found a pie crust that did not need to “chill” in the refrigerator. While it is NOT my grandmother’s recipe for pie crust, it served the purpose. I need to roll them thinner, but it worked into a beautiful crust!!
Now for the recipe:
Make a recipe of pie crust. Roll it thin.
Cut into circles, as if you were making fried pies.
The recipe I used for the crust is:
3 3/4 c. Flour
1 1/2 c. Shortening
1 1/2Tsp. Baking powder
3/4 tsp. Salt
1 egg + cold water to equal 3/4 cup
(This recipe made about 30 4-inch pies. Had I rolled it thinner, I think I could have gotten about 3 dozen)
I used a sandwich cutter/press, it was perfect for cutting the circles.
Now, for the other ingredients:
2 sticks of butter
4 cups milk (For richer sauce, use half & half or canned evaporated milk, NOT sweetened condensed)
1/2 cup + 2 cups of sugar
1 TBSP vanilla
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Inside each circle, place a pat of butter and sprinkle with sugar. Fold over and seal, again, as if you were making fried pies.
Place pies in a large cake pan that has been sprayed. For this large quantity, it took two pans. Bake until the pies are golden brown, about 10-15 minutes, depending on your oven.
Meanwhile, bring to a boil the butter, milk, sugar, and vanilla. As soon as the pies are ready, pour the sauce over the hot pies. CAUTION: This will be bubbling and boiling in the hot cake pan. Oh, and the smell of the vanilla, butter, and baked pies taking over your senses can make you start to drool, a little!!!
Serve the pies while warm.
After note: If you allow the pies to cool, they will soak up the milk. That is ok, but I like them with lots of sauce. I think next time I will double the sauce for this amount of pies. They are wonderful reheated the next day for breakfast!!