Clover-Leaf Rolls (Sweet Rolls)

Clover-leaf Rolls 6

There’s nothing like fresh-baked rolls to make a meal really special. When I saw a picture of Clover-leaf Rolls in a hundred-year-old issue of Good Housekeeping, I knew that I had to try making them.

clover leaf rolls 2
Source: Good Housekeeping (February, 1916)

The picture in the old magazine brought back warm fuzzy memories of making Clover-leaf Rolls with my mother when I was a child. I remembered how much fun it was to roll small balls of bread dough between my fingers and put them into muffin tins — 3 balls in each cup. And, I could remember how much fun they were to eat after they were baked. Clover-leaf Rolls pull apart beautifully and are delectable with a little butter or marmalade.

The recipe did not disappoint. The rolls were easy to make and my kitchen was filled with the lovely aroma of baking bread. And, when I took the rolls out of they oven, they were light and heavenly with a hint of cinnamon.

The original recipe was for Sweet Rolls, and said that it could be formed into a variety of shapes, including Clover-leaf. It called for a compressed yeast cake and 8 cups of flour. I knew I didn’t need that many rolls, so I made 2/3’s of the recipe, and substituted instant yeast for the compressed yeast.

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Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Clover-leaf Rolls

  • Servings: 36 rolls
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

1 1/3 cups milk

2 packets instant dry yeast

1 1/3 tablespoons butter, softened

1 1/3 tablespoons shortening or lard

4 tablespoons sugar

3 egg yolks

2/3 teaspoon salt

2/3 teaspoon cinnamon

approximately 5 1/3 cups bread flour

Put milk in saucepan and scald; then cool until lukewarm (110 – 115° F.). Dissolve the yeast in the milk. Then in a large bowl combine the dissolved yeast mixture, butter, shortening, sugar, egg yolks, salt, cinnamon, and 3 cups flour. Add additional flour until the dough is easy to handle.

Knead the dough on a floured surface until it is smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes). Place in a greased bowl, cover and put in a warm spot. Let rise until doubled in size (about 1 1/2 hours).

Grease muffin pans. Punch down dough, then pinch off pieces of dough and shape into 1-inch balls. Placed 3 balls in each muffin cup, and brush with butter. Let rise until double (about 30 minutes), then place in preheated 375 ° F oven.  Bake 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned.

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Here’s the original recipe:

Sweet rolls recipe 2 1916 Good Housekeeping
Source: Good Housekeeping (February, 1916)

59 thoughts on “Clover-Leaf Rolls (Sweet Rolls)

  1. We often had fresh rolls for dinner, because my mother had a refrigerator roll recipe you mixed up, then stuck in the fridge. You could make as many rolls as you wanted each evening. As I recall, the dough would last through a whole week.

    I still have that recipe, written in pencil, and I’ve sworn to copy it before it fades away entirely. I’d better get at it. Once I’ve deciphered and tested it, if it’s really as good as I remember, I’ll pass it on. She said she got it from her mother, and used it when she began baking, so that would put it back to at least 1915 — it qualifies as a hundred-year-old recipe!

    1. Your recipe sounds wonderful. I like how the dough would keep in the refrigerator, so small batches of rolls could be made over the course of several days. I am keeping my fingers crossed that it is as good as you remember so you can pass it on.

    1. There is something really special about homemade bread . . . the smell, the taste, the texture, the care and love that went into making it. . . .

    1. I think that you will like it. I make homemade bread once every month or two. I really want to make it more frequently. It is so much better than store bread.

    1. It probably would work . . Maybe put it in the refrigerator overnight or use a little less yeast. If you try doing it overnight, you’ll have to let us know how they turned out and how you adjusted the recipe.

  2. Lovely. Thank you. When I saw the image of the marmalade container, I realized I have a “stand” just like it minus the glass and I had no clue what it was meant for. I figured I would use it as a candle holder as I didn’t know of it’s original use. Now I know.

  3. I LOVE homemade rolls with a pressure cooked Beef Chuck Roast, pressure cooked carrots (in the beef juices) and mashed potatoes and gravy!

    1. Have you ever made any gluten-free breads? I’ve had some awesome gluten-free breads and rolls at restaurants, but have never made any. It’s on my list of things I want to try making.

  4. Mmmmm. These are in my mother’s recipe box as “Clover Leaf Light Rolls.” I made them for Thanksgiving one year in the 80s. They are sooooo goooood. It makes me want to make them again. Who needs anything else when you have these? Thanks for sharing this.

  5. These sweet bread rolls look amazing & must be ver so tasteful too! MMMMMMM!
    I must make them soon! I happen to have an organic bread flour at home! Yummm!

    1. It’s nice to hear that it brought back some good memories. I have a lot of fun trying old recipes, and it’s wonderful to hear when someone especially enjoys a post.

  6. What wonderful idea to put the dough in muffin pans!! One could have a lot of fun with this recipe, like drizzling a maple favored icing over the tops of them…

    1. mmm. . . that sounds good. I love maple-flavored icing, and it would perfectly enhance the mild cinnamon flavor in these rolls. There’s lots of ways to make minor tweaks to this recipe that would result in noticeably different breads which adds to the fun. The 1916 recipe I found calls for cinnamon, but I thought about trying it without the cinnamon. My memory is that the Clover-leaf Rolls that my mother made when I was a child didn’t have cinnamon in them.

  7. Cheryl, what a delicious post. It’s been ages since I’ve made these. Seeing the pictures brought me right back to my childhood home, as my mother used to make these too.
    Spring Blessings ~ Wendy

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