The Christmas baking frenzy was short-lived at our house. It lasted from after lunch until just before supper. Once the flour dust cleared, 12 dozen caramel rolls lay cooling on wire racks. Shortly thereafter, 10 dozen caramel rolls were wrapped in foil and waiting to be delivered to neighbors and church staff members. 1 dozen went into our freezer, and the remaining dozen were dessert that night and breakfast the next morning.

Below is the sweet roll recipe I’ve used for decades. It’s from the 1979 Better Homes and Gardens All-Time Favorite Recipes cookbook given to me by Elsie Philo, my mother-in-law. This Christmas, I made 3 double batches (I almost always double it), and the final double batch was dairy free. (The dairy free substitutions are in parentheses.)

These rolls take some time to make. When the kids were little, we made them whenever school was called off because of snow. Sweet memories, indeed!

Basic Sweet Roll Dough

3 1/2 to 4 cups unbleached flour (I used half whole wheat bread flour)
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup milk (1 cup water for dairy free)
1/8 cup sugar
1/4 cup shortening (use lard rather than butter for dairy free)
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs

In large mixer bowl, combine 2 cups of flour and the yeast. In saucepan, heat milk, sugar, shortening, and salt until mixture is warm (just begins steaming) and shortening is melted. Add to flour in the mixing bowl. Add the eggs.

Beat on low speed of electric mixer for 30 seconds, scraping sides of bowl constantly. Beat 3 minutes at high speed. Using dough hook on mixer, stir in as much remaining flour as possible. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough. Continue kneading until dough is smooth and elastic (8 to 10 minutes). Shape into a ball.

Place ball of dough in lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease surface. Cover. Let rise in a warm place until double (45–60 minutes). Punch dough down. Turn out onto lightly floured surface. Continue as directed below.

Caramel-Pecan Rolls

Basic Sweet Roll Doug
3 tablespoons butter, melted (margarine for dairy free)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter (Earth Balance or coconut oil for dairy free)
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Combine 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup butter or margarine and corn syrup in a saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly until shortening is melted and mixture is blended. Distribute mixture evenly in two 9×1 1/2 round or two 8×8 square pans or one 9 x 13 cake pan. Sprinkle with chopped pecans.

Roll sweet dough into a 24×16 inch rectangle. Brush with melted butter or butter substitute. Combine 2 tablespoons brown sugar and cinnamon over dough. Starting from long side, roll up dough jelly-roll style. Seal seam. Slice into 24 rolls.

Place rolls, cut side down, in prepared baking pans. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double (about 30 minutes). Bake at 375° for 18–20 minutes. Cool about 30 seconds. Invert onto racks covered with foil and remove pans. Makes 24 rolls.