Lion House rolls are a regional specialty made famous by Utah’s Lion House restaurant. Like the more well-known Parker House roll, these rolls are soft and rich with butter, except with its signature spiral that unravels into feathery layers. They make the perfect carb-laden pillow for sopping up all sorts of sauces and soups.
WHAT ARE LION HOUSE ROLLS?
These rolls are made with an enriched dough—meaning in addition to flour, water, and yeast, this dough is enriched with egg, fat, and dairy.
In the case of these rolls, we use dry milk powder which is called for in almost all Lion House roll recipes we found in our research. In addition to the milk powder (aka powdered milk), there’s an egg and LOTS of butter in the dough brushed between the layers and brushed on top warm from the oven.
Adding fat in the form of butter and eggs helps keep the dough tender by preventing some of the gluten formation—the more gluten, the chewier the finished product. This is great for things like pizza or sourdough, but we want fluffy, soft rolls here.
WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE MILK POWDER?
Even though milk powder is a common ingredient in Lion House rolls, you can replace both the milk powder and the water with 1 1/2 cups of whole milk. I made a test batch using that version with great success.
HOW TO KNOW IF YOUR YEAST IS DEAD OR ALIVE?
It’s so disappointing to bake a recipe only to discover your rolls didn’t rise and your yeast is dead.
New bakers can accidentally kill yeast by adding it to water or milk that’s too hot. You want the liquid to be between 80°F – 100°F. If you don’t have a thermometer, just keep it a little above room temperature and cool enough for you to comfortably keep your finger submerged in before you add the yeast and you should be OK.
To make sure your yeast is still alive and kicking, you should see the yeast dissolve into the liquid mixture (a few dry granules here and there are okay). After about five minutes the yeast should become foamy and float on top of the milk mixture. If it is just sunken to the bottom and it doesn’t look frothy, then the yeast is probably dead and it’s best to start over.
HOW TO MAKE LION HOUSE ROLLS AHEAD OF TIME
It’s best to bake Lion House rolls the same day you want to serve them. They are especially good after being out of the oven for about 20 minutes.
You can still prepare the dough and either give it a slow rise the night before or freeze it to get a head start on some of your prep work.
To give the dough a slow rise: The dough for these rolls can be made the night before and left in the refrigerator for a slow first rise. This will firm the butter in the dough considerably, and it will be super silky and easy to roll out. (If you’re short on time, you can do a room temperature rise, but the chilled dough is much easier to work with.) The next day bake them off and serve.
To freeze the lion house rolls: Make them through the shaping stage, and instead of giving them a second rise, freeze them on a sheet pan. Once completely frozen, pop them into a freezer bag. They will last at least a month in the freezer.
To bake from frozen: Place the rolls on a baking sheet as instructed in the recipe, cover with plastic and set in a warm place (in the oven with just the light on is a great place) until doubled in size. (This could take a few hours, depending on how warm the ambient temperature is.) Once risen, bake according to the recipe instructions.
HOW TO DOUBLE THIS RECIPE
If you need to make more rolls than this recipe calls for, it’s best to make multiple single batches. You could technically double this recipe, but it would make very hard work for even the largest capacity home stand mixer, so I don’t recommend it.