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Combine warm water, sugar, and yeast. Stir until dissolved; set aside until bubbly.
Combine oil, salt, 6 cups of bread flour, and water/yeast mixture in a large mixing bowl. Beat with a regular paddle on medium-high for 2 minutes. Change from paddle to dough hook, and add 1-1/2 cups more flour. Knead with dough hook for five minutes, pausing occasionally to scrape down the sides. Add remaining 1/2 cup of flour if needed. This makes a very soft dough, so it will be a little sticky. Turn out onto floured surface and hand knead a few turns. Pour 1-2 T. of oil in the bottom of a large bowl - add the dough, then turn so all sides are oiled. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in a warm location to rise until doubled - approx. 1 to 1-1/2 hrs.
Punch down dough and prepare to form into rolls. This recipe makes 36 rolls (two 13x9 pans with 18 each). Pour a small puddle of oil in pan. Pinch off a piece of dough about the size of a lemon - flatten, dip outside in oil, and fold in half (this is Parkerhouse style). Continue with remaining dough. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled - approx. 45 min.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove plastic wrap and bake uncovered for 18 min. or until golden brown. Brush tops with butter when removing from oven.
These freeze very well - keep in the pan and insert in a large freezer bag, or cover tightly with foil. Remove as much air as possible. When ready to serve, bring to room temperature, then reheat in the oven covered with foil for a few minutes.
The original recipe called for melted shortening instead of oil - but this is much healthier and I can't tell any difference. This same dough can be used to make loaves (3 medium loaves) and cinnamon rolls.
If you do not have a stand mixer with dough hook, this can be made by hand. Combine liquid ingredients with as much of the flour as you can stir - stir with heavy spoon until combined. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 5-7 minutes, adding in remaining flour, until smooth and elastic. Continue with the rest of the recipe as is.
My grandmother, Lizzie (Buske) Young, was one of ten children raised in Abernathy, Texas. Her parents owned a boarding house right beside the railroad track. From the age of 8 years old, she would get up at 3 or 4 in the morning to bake rolls, bread for sandwiches, and pies for each day. During most of my childhood, she would make these on a daily basis, and in the mornings we would have leftovers from the previous day, split, buttered, and toasted, then served with fresh whipped cream and preserves or ribbon cane syrup. She never measured anything - the only reason we have a recipe is because my dad and my cousin followed her around and wrote things down, then experimented to get it right.
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