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Granny Foster's Refrigerator Rolls


Sara Foster uses this dough to create a variety of sweet breakfast pastries, including sticky orange-coconut pinwheels and killer pecan sticky buns.

  • Yield: Makes about 2 dozen 2 1/2-inch rolls

Source: Martha Stewart Living, August 2001


  • 1/2 cup warm water (105 degrees to 115 degrees)
  • 1 quarter-ounce package dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 cups milk
  • 11 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for baking sheet
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 to 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


  1. Combine water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon of sugar in a small bowl; stir to combine. Let stand in a warm place until small bubbles form on the surface, about 5 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, heat milk, 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, salt, and remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar in a small saucepan over very low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until sugar has dissolved and butter has melted. Be sure not to let the mixture become hotter than 115 degrees. or it will kill the yeast. Remove from heat, and pour into a large bowl; add the yeast mixture. Stir until combined. Add 6 cups flour, and stir until mixture forms a soft dough. It may be necessary to add the remaining 1/2 cup flour.

  3. Transfer mixture to a lightly floured work surface, and knead until the dough is smooth, 5 to 8 minutes.

  4. Lightly oil a large bowl, and place dough in bowl. Cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 30 to 45 minutes. At this point, dough may be stored, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Allow dough to reach room temperature before proceeding with the recipe.

  5. Punch dough down, and divide equally in half. Place on a clean work surface, and cover loosely with a kitchen towel or inverted bowl. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a baking sheet; set aside. Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter; set aside.

  7. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll out on a lightly floured work surface until 3/4 inch thick. Using a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter, cut out about 2 dozen rolls. Place rolls on prepared baking sheet, and let rise until rolls have doubled in size, 15 to 20 minutes. Brush tops lightly with melted butter. Repeat with remaining dough.

  8. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

Reviews Add a comment

  • Ashley McCord
    24 NOV, 2012
    I live in Tennessee, and my rolls didn't raise as much as quickly as I anticipated. Also, they are so bland. What would be the effect if I added a lot more salt. I used salted butter already. (Sorry, Martha. Its a Southern thing.) Any tips?
    • notthemama53
      26 AUG, 2016
      In my opinion, I think the reason they didn't rise is because there is not enough yeast for the amt of flour called for. I also think, since I have done refrigerator dough before, that after you have mixed up the dough and kneaded it, put it in a bowl covered or a big plastic bag that has been sprayed with Pam & place in frig. Let it rise in the frig. It shouldn't matter if the dough goes flat either in the frig. When making the rolls or whatever you plan to do, they should rise in a warm place.
  • gmabentley
    2 NOV, 2010
    Christine, I don't know if this may have been the problem, but it's very important that the milk mixture be cooled to just above lukewarm before you add the yeast to it. Think of the temperature of a baby bottle of milk. Better too cool than too warm; too cool, and it will take the rolls longer to rise. Too warm, and the yeast will die. Best wishes!
  • ChristineFerrera
    24 APR, 2010
    Help! for the first time I mess up a recipe, tried twice. My rolls were hard very tasty. I tested another package of yeast it was good. I don't know what happen. I don't give up. Please help.