Ice Box Rolls

Icebox Rolls - Dinner Rolls

This is a dough recipe from my childhood. Although my mom never used it to make dinner rolls, as pictured above, it was the base for her famously delicious sticky buns. She bakes the rolls, filled with cinnamon and sugar, on top of a bed of oozing caramel and pecans, and serve them warm on Christmas morning. She would only prepare the rolls once a year, and then when we were older we learned to beg in such a way that she was convinced to make them a little more often, for example at Easter or Thanksgiving. Then came the day I learned to make them! It was deceivingly simple. I enjoyed the process of rolling out the dough, filling them, letting it rise, and turn golden on top, before smearing them with a cream-cheese frosting. I began making them semi-frequently that I started inventing occasions to drop a dozen over t a friends house — because who can indulge in that sort of thing so often?

Icebox Rolls - Honey SwirlIcebox Rolls - Pistachio Rolls

It had been a few years since I made them. When we moved to Guate and we didn’t have an oven in our “kitchen”, I figured there would be no need for baking recipes. That was very sad to me. Until I read on the Crockpot Lady’s site that you can indeed bake in a crock pot! Actually Héc was the one who discovered that…he wanted to make cornbread. And I believe that was the very first baked good prepared in the crock pot. So I asked my mom to send me the recipe again.

What I didn’t realize at first was what a versatile recipe it is. You can use it as a base for cinnamon buns, but you can also bake it as a regular loaf of sandwich bread, or mini dinner rolls too. Dinner rolls are the method I use most frequently, however occasionally I will roll up a batch of specialty dessert rolls filled with honey and pistachios, or even make rolls on the savory side filled with caramelized onions, garlic, and butter, for a variation of garlic bread. You can even toss some herbs right into the batter.

Icebox Rolls - OnionsIcebox Rolls - Rolling

Another thing I love about this recipe is that there is no kneading, you let it rise overnight in the fridge with no worries, and you can keep it in there for up to five days. Thats where it gets it’s name : icebox as in refrigerator of the old days. Its a hassle-free yeast break recipe, as simple to make as cookies. Its wonderful to mix up a batch on Monday and make freshly baked rolls for dinner each night. Its really perfect.

This that I feature below is a full recipe as my mom makes, however I generally cut it in half because in our house we are only two. A full batch can turn out somewhere between 3-4 dozen fist-sized rolls.

Icebox Rolls

2 pkgs yeast
1/2 c. lukewarm water
3 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoons salt
2 cups hot water
2 eggs
8 cups flour

Soak yeast in lukewarm water. In separate bowl, place butter, sugar, and salt and pour hot water over this. Let cool. When lukewarm, add the soaked yeast, eggs and half of the flour. Stir well. Then stir in remaining flour. Do not knead. This mixture will seem too soft, but it is not. Place in refrigerator and use as wanted. Will keep for 4 or 5 days. When using, form into rolls and let rise about 30 minutes at room temperature before baking.

To make cinnamon-style buns, roll the dough out into a rectangle on a lightly floured surface, spread with about 3 tablespoons butter, sprinkle with a mixture or 1/2 cup brown sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Or, get creative and put whatever you want inside. Roll them up tightly and gently pinch the end closed. Make cuts in the roll about two inches wide, and place spirals up in a greased baking dish. Let rise about 30 minutes at room temperature.

Oven: bake at 400º F for 20 minutes.

Slow cooker: Place dough in a glass or ceramic pan that fits in your slow-cooker, and put some scrunched up foil underneath to support the pan(I use the lid of a canning jar). This is to prevent the bread pan from directly touching the inside of the slow cooker – otherwise the outside may burn before the inside has finished cooking. Bake for 2 hours on high, covered.

Thanks Mom!