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.
More Bread Recipes
Lion House Rolls
- 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
- 1/2 cup (50g) dry milk powder
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
- 1 tablespoon (8g) active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 large egg
- 5 cups (610g) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- To finish the rolls:
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted, cooled, and divided
- Flaky salt for sprinkling (optional)
Prepare your bowl
Lightly oil a large bowl. You will add your dough to it once it’s been made.
Bloom the yeast
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water, milk powder, one tablespoon of sugar, and yeast. Mix briefly with a spatula just to wet the yeast. Let it sit to foam, about 5 minutes.
Make the dough
Once the yeast looks foamy, add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, 1/4 cup melted butter, and egg followed by the flour and salt.
Fit the mixer with the dough hook and mix on medium-low speed until the dough forms, then turn the mixer up to medium speed and knead with the hook for 6 minutes.
Scrape the dough from the bowl and knead a few times on the counter before forming into a ball.
Place the dough ball in the oiled bowl and cover with plastic. Place the bowl with the dough in the refrigerator and let it rise slowly overnight.
Roll out the dough
In the morning, about 2 hours before baking, roll out the dough into a very long oblong shape. About 40 inches x 10 inches and about 1/8 inch thick.
Butter, roll, and divide the dough
Brush 2/3 of the melted butter over the surface of the dough, leaving a 1-inch border along the edge furthest from you.
Roll the buttered dough from the longest side closest to you like a very long cinnamon roll. Pinch the seam closed and cut the log in half, so each log is about 20 inches.
Divide each log into six somewhat equal portions.
Place the buns seam side down, four across on a sheet pan in three rows. Dust the tops with flour so the dough doesn’t stick and cover the rolls with plastic. Rise in a warm spot until doubled, about 1 hour. (If you want to freeze the rolls, do that after you’ve divided them but before the second rise.)
Bake the Rolls
Heat the oven to 350°F. Place the risen rolls in the center of the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, turning the pan halfway through for even browning, until the buns are golden brown.
Cool and butter the rolls
Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool. While the rolls are still hot, brush them with the remaining melted butter. Sprinkle with salt if you like. Cool to room temperature before serving.