Makes 12.

Note: This versatile recipe was developed based on a sweet dough from “The Fleischmann Treasury of Yeast Baking,” a booklet produced in 1962. Mix and shape rolls the night before you plan to serve them, using one of the three fillings below, or one of your own. Then bake in the morning.

• 1/2 c. milk

• 1/2 c. sugar

• 1/2 stick (4 tbsp.) unsalted butter

• 1 1/2 tsp. salt

• 2 pkg. (1/4 oz. each) active dry yeast

• 1/2 c. warm water (100 to 110 degrees)

• 5 c. flour, lightly spooned into a measuring cup

• 2 eggs, lightly beaten

• 1/2 stick (4 tbsp.) unsalted butter, melted

• Filling and icing (see recipes)


Heat milk to a simmer in a small saucepan; stir in sugar, butter and salt. Pour into a mixing bowl; cool to lukewarm. Sprinkle yeast into warm water; stir until dissolved. Mixture should bubble up after a few minutes.

Set aside 1/2 cup flour for kneading. With a sturdy wooden spoon, stir eggs, yeast mixture and half the remaining flour into the lukewarm milk mixture until smooth. Add remaining flour, beating well with a wooden spoon until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. You should have a somewhat stiff dough. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Dust hands lightly with flour; shape dough into a ball. Flatten slightly, then knead several minutes until smooth and elastic; it should bounce back when gently pressed with a finger. Dust top lightly with flour; cover with a clean cloth and let rest, 15 minutes.

While dough rests, line a 9- by 13-inch baking pan with 2 pieces of aluminum foil, 1 crosswise, 1 lengthwise; leave ends loose to make removing the baked rolls from pan easier. Brush foil well with some of the melted butter. Prepare a filling.

Pat down dough; roll into a 12- by 18-inch rectangle. Brush lightly with melted butter. Sprinkle or spread with filling of your choice, leaving a 1/2-inch space along the edges. Starting from long side nearest you, roll dough up tightly; pinch long seam closed. Cut roll into 1 1/2-inch slices using a sharp knife. Or use a 12-inch piece of sturdy thread to cut slices: Place thread under roll at a 1 1/2-inch mark. Pick up thread ends — thread on the right with your left hand, thread on the left with your right hand — and pull thread ends across roll to cut. You should have 12 rolls. Arrange cut rolls in prepared baking pan, leaving space between them. Brush tops with remaining melted butter. Cover pan with plastic wrap; refrigerate overnight.

Remove rolls from refrigerator; carefully remove plastic wrap. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Let rolls stand at room temperature, 15 to 20 minutes. (Do not let them get too puffy before baking.) Bake until tops are nicely browned, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack, 5 minutes. Use ends of foil as handles to remove rolls from pan. Remove rolls from the foil, with help from a spatula. Place on a serving tray; cool, 10 minutes. Drizzle with icing before serving.


Cinnamon-pecan-raisin: Mix 3/4 cup granulated sugar with 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon. Mix in 1/2 cup chopped pecans and 1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries.

Fig-walnut: Spread about 1 cup (about an 8.5-ounce jar) fig preserves on dough; sprinkle with 1/2 cup chopped walnuts.

Lemon-cheese: Blend 12 ounces cream cheese with 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 egg yolk and 1 tablespoon each finely grated lemon zest and lemon juice. Adapted from “The King Arthur 200th Anniversary Cookbook.”

Icing/ Blend 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla in a small bowl with a whisk; add more milk if needed to drizzle.

Nutrition information per serving (with pecan-raising filling):

Calories 425 Fat 13 g

Sodium 312 mg Carbs 72 g

Saturated fat 6 g Protein 7 g

Cholesterol 52 mg Dietary fiber 3 g