Established 1826 — Oldest College Newspaper West of the Alleghenies

We can’t cook: Filling the toasted roll hole in our lives through the magic of baking

The toasted rolls were even more beautiful and delicious outside in the autumn sun.
The toasted rolls were even more beautiful and delicious outside in the autumn sun.

Toasted Rolls.

They used to be a Miami University staple. People loved them. People ate them. And people cried when they left (looking at you, Fred Reeder, adviser to The Miami Student).

Luckily, we set out to fill the toasted roll-shaped hole in our hearts this weekend. Here’s how you can follow in our footsteps, young baking disciples.

Step one: Go to the store … twice

You may think that step one of any baking excursion is to find a recipe. Not so. We failed to coordinate who was supplying the recipe ahead of time, and as a result, we didn’t actually know what we would need — in particular the truckload of butter — for our toasted rolls until we were standing in front of the produce section in Kroger.

The result of our failure to plan? We had to go back to the store soon after our first trip to double our butter stock.

Step 1.5: Try to bake before you have all the ingredients

What should you do between your two trips to the store for extra butter and lasagna? I’m glad you asked.

This step is all about starting things you can’t finish. No, not the new Martin Scorsese movie — we’re talking mixing. Before realizing we didn’t have enough butter, we boiled milk (in the microwave) and put it in the freezer, mixed yeast and water in a little jar, and dumped a whole bunch of flour into a bowl.

We also stopped off at my (Sean’s) apartment to pick up a wooden spoon, ground cinnamon, pumpkin seeds and some butter. We decided to check the recipe as infrequently as possible, which led to a few key lapses in judgment along the way.

Step two: Realize you don’t have nearly enough time for this

Now that we had gathered all the ingredients we could possibly need, we began mixing in the dry ingredients — along with a fraction of the total butter — into our large bowl to create dough. 

Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter

Sean mixed the dry ingredients. I (Devin) elected to help by softening the butter. I felt it apt to soften the butter by putting it in the microwave. I chose not to put the butter on or in anything other than its very own wax paper.

The butter went everywhere. 

Shortly after making an abominable mess in my own microwave, we realized that we had not factored in the two hours required to let the dough rise. We had also not factored in that we cannot read.

The recipe called for the dough to rise in the fridge “overnight.” So, like last time, this recipe became a two-day ordeal. We were displeased.

Step three: Play Mario and make brownies

At this point, we realized we wouldn’t be eating toasty, rolled-up goodness that night, so it was time to improvise. We swaddled the dough in a Kroger bag (Devin’s grand idea), sent our multimedia minions away to their own abodes to acquire brownie mix and hot chocolate, and sat down to play some well-deserved Super Mario Bros. Wonder.

Within half an hour, the brownies were in the oven and the coffee maker was spouting out hot water for our hot chocolate. The toasted roll recipe was safely forgotten for the night.

Step four: Begrudgingly return to the kitchen and realize we’re actually making cinnamon rolls

Photo by Devin Ankeney | The Miami Student
The not-so-toasted rolls in all their glory, squished together on a pan that was too small.

At 1:15 p.m., we returned to the kitchen to finish what we barely started. We had to find a way to finish all the steps — including another two-hour wait — before we both had places to be. We had to be efficient.

We pulled the dough out of its Kroger bag cage and promptly realized we didn’t have a roller to flatten it out to a thin rectangle.

We separated the massive lump of incredibly dense, hard-as-a-rock dough. Sean masterfully pressed his half down into a lovely rectangle with few lumps. I (Devin) punched my half several dozen times leaving it looking like the surface of the moon. 

Sean did not approve of my antics.

We proceeded to butter up our sheets of dough before rolling them up and slicing them into what looked eerily like cinnamon rolls — not the toasted rolls we remembered from Pulley Diner of yesteryear.

Step five: Botch tarot card readings while we waited for the rolls to rise

The recipe finally called for the two-hour wait we had thought was meant for the previous night. While we waited for our rolls to rise as the oven preheated, Sean, our cameraman Luke, and I gave each other some of the worst and least-comprehensive tarot card readings everseen by mere mortals.

On various occasions, we prescribed each other strangely specific events for each of our futures, taking the images on the cards far too literally. After we each took a turn disgracing the dark arts, it was finally time to give up on the two-hour wait and continue with the recipe.

Step six: Cream the glaze and improvise

The oven was preheated. Our futures were foretold. Our mouths were salivating.

The rolls went into the oven, and we improvised our way to making a “creamy glaze.” We’d never thought about making this before. We assumed that Pillsbury simply oozed it out of some heavenly machine and packaged it up as a little gift to us.

We mixed powdered sugar, water, vanilla and even more butter haphazardly into a bowl. The recipe did not provide creamy glaze directions. After some strong and thorough mixing, the strange concoction actually turned into a glaze.

We were ready to dress our rolls.

Step seven: Toast the rolls and fear for Devin’s kitchen

Photo by Luke Macy | The Miami Student
Sean and Devin take their first looks at what might, somehow, be good cooking.

We took the rolls out of the oven, and Devin quickly grabbed a spoon and began dolloping glaze on each and every roll while I (Sean) quickly — and right behind Devin — spread the glaze out to cover the entire surface.

It was at this point we realized the recipe called for a grill. Now, it is important to note here that I, Devin, do not have a grill per se. I do not have a skillet. I do, however, have bad ideas and impulsive judgment.

I suggested to Sean that we simply turn the stove on under the oven pan instead of dealing with cutting all of the 24 rolls and grilling the insides. He quickly agreed and further suggested we dump butter under all the rolls so as to be a catalyst for the toasting.

While yes, I did fear that the pan would immediately make terrible sounds and jump off the stove as it was not meant for stovetops, it actually worked fantastically. 

The bottoms of our buns were magically buttery and toasted. We were nearly done.

Step eight: Powder that s**t

Editor-in-Chief Sean Scott and Opinion Editor Devin Ankeney reflect on their attempt to make toasted rolls. Luke Macy

The rolls were beautiful. Sean carefully dusted them all with even more powdered sugar before we called it a day. The tops were glossy and gorgeous. The bottoms were buttery and crispy to the perfect degree.

We grabbed plates and prepared to taste our second attempt at baking together. Ever. 

Honestly, they were pretty good. They didn’t taste exactly like the toasted rolls we remember from years past, but they had enough butter and powdered sugar for it to not matter. 

Maybe… we can cook?