My Mother, Suzanne Elsoffer, with my daughter Betelihem, 2012
I love homemade yeast-risen rolls not only for their flavor and texture, but because I know what goes into getting them to the table. It takes thoughtful care and attention to coax a pile of flour, a liquid like water or milk, some yeast, and a touch of salt into a light and fluffy bread perfect for sopping up gravy or spreading a pat of butter onto. And handcrafted bread at Thanksgiving, when so much else is also made from scratch, feels like a extra special loving gesture. That’s why these Cloverleaf Rolls, with their three little pull-apart sections make me happy and nostalgic.
I learned all about baking bread and rolls from a natural—my mother, who could whip up a loaf with her eyes closed. She taught me at an early age, letting me work my own little piece of the dough long past its prime (bad for the bread but perfect for keeping me occupied me while she got the true task of dinner rolls or a bread loaf accomplished). I remember those times with her in the kitchen very fondly and always loved when we could look forward to her rolls at the Thanksgiving table. I am not positive if my mother ever actually taught me these cloverleaf rolls or if I learned to make them on my own, but I still give her all the credit.
Last year’s Thanksgiving was that last one with my mom. She wasn’t well, but my stepfather, my sister, and our children got to spend the day with her, and we put together a pretty good version of dinner. And she ate. I didn’t make rolls—there wasn’t time. I know she would have appreciated them. I will make time this year and honor Mom, and my sweet daughter will be right beside me learning to knead and shape yeast rolls just like my mom taught me. I know that she is proud I am passing on what she taught.
More Family Thanksgiving Favorites:
- Alice’s Cheese Olivettes
- David’s Applewood-Smoked Turkey
- Hunter’s Southern Corn Bread Dressing Squares