Every Thanksgiving I have the same problem: there’s just never enough room for all of the platters and bowls on the dining room table. Usually, the centerpiece has to be removed to make way for a bowl of mashed potatoes. Instead of removing it, here’s a way to have your centerpiece and eat it too!
This post is actually about the acorn rolls, but I’ll also give you instructions below for the cornucopia, which can be made up to a week ahead of time and frozen.
The acorn rolls are decorative and delicious! The crushed graham crackers in the dough give them just a hint of sweetness and add a delicate flavor.
|Acorn Dinner Rolls
- 2¼ cups warm water
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1 package graham crackers, (9 full cracker sheets) coarsely crushed
- ⅓ cup butter, softened
- ¼ cup powdered nondairy creamer (This is optional, but makes a super fluffy roll.)
- 1 teaspoons salt
- 5-6 cups bread flour
- 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water and 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa (egg wash)
- Small stick pretzels or raw almonds cut into slivers
- Place warm water in a large bowl and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
- Add the crushed graham crackers, butter, creamer, salt, and 3 cups bread flour. Mix well.
- Stir in 2 additional cups of flour. If you are using a stand mixer, switch to your dough hook and knead for 5 minutes. If the dough is not coming cleanly away from the bowl, add additional flour a little at a time. Dough should be soft but not sticky. If you are kneading by hand, drop the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 6-7 minutes, adding additional flour as necessary to achieve a soft, elastic dough.
- Place dough in a large greased bowl, turning it several times to coat the dough.
- Cover and allow the dough to rise until doubled in a warm location - about 1 hour.
- Lightly grease (or spray with an oil/flour baking spray) 2 12-cavity cupcake pans.
- Remove ⅔ of the dough and place on a lightly floured surface. Punch down the remaining dough, cover, and set aside.
- Divide the dough on the floured surface into 24 equal pieces. Shape into balls. Set in prepared cupcake pans and allow to rise for 45 minutes.
- Heat oven to 375 F.
- After the 45 minutes is up, roll out the dough in the bowl, keeping it very thin - ¼-inch or less. Using a small biscuit cutter or wine glass, cut out 24 circles. They should be a little wider than the balls of dough in the cupcake pan.
- Brush the top of each ball with a small amount of egg wash.
- Place one circle at a time into the palm of your hand and, using the flat side of a knife or an onion holder, press lines in 2 or 3 directions, similar to a peanut butter cookie.
- Brush with egg wash and set it on one of the balls of dough in the pan. Poke a small piece of slivered almond into the top for a stem. (If you are using pretzels, poke them into the top of each acorn after they are baked.) Repeat.
- Place in the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the acorn tops are a rich brown.
- Cool in pans on racks for 5 minutes, then carefully lift each acorn out to cool.
- If you want to re-warm the rolls, place them in a large cake pan, cover them loosely with foil, and heat at 300 for 5-10 minutes.
- There’s no need to make a mess crushing the crackers. Just smash the package against the counter a few times. The chunks will dissolve in the yeast mixture.
- Make sure the acorn tops are a little bigger across than the width of the balls in the pan. If they’re too small they’ll look like a hat perched on a head – not what you want.
- If you want darker tops, instead of adding the cocoa to the egg wash, knead it into the smaller piece of dough before covering it and setting it aside. Don’t worry if the cocoa isn’t completely worked in – just do your best. Add a little extra cocoa if you’d like. Then just use the egg and water as an egg wash.
- I had fairly good luck pressing the acorn top design into the rolled dough with a potato masher before cutting out the circles. This might be easier for you. But in the the end, I preferred the way they looked when I used an onion holder to press the design on each piece.
The finished acorns would look beautiful on a platter with little sprigs of rosemary, but if you have the time and inclination, here are instructions for the cornucopia. It’s actually fairly easy to make! You will need foil and parchment paper to create a sculpture for the bread to wrap around.
2½ cups warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
2 packages active dry yeast
2 tablespoons softened butter
6 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 egg plus 1 tablespoon water, whisked together to make an egg wash.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir sugar into warm water and then stir in the yeast. Let sit until bubbly (about 5 minutes).
- Add butter, 3 cups flour and the salt and beat for 1 minute.
- Add 2 cups flour and mix together well. Slowly add as much of the remaining flour as necessary until the dough comes cleanly away from the side of the bowl. If you are using a stand mixer with a dough hook, knead for 5 minutes. If you are kneading by hand, drop the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 7 minutes.
- Place the dough into a large greased bowl. Turn to coat. Cover and let rise until doubled, approximately 1 hour.
- While dough is rising, form a cornucopia shape out of foil, crumpling the foil together to make a solid mass. The one pictured in this blog was about 15 inches from end to end. It doesn’t have to be too dense – it just can’t be hollow because it has to hold up to the weight of the dough. When you have the correct shape, wrap it with a piece of parchment, securing it with a staple or piece of masking tape.
- Heat oven to 375 F.
- Punch down dough and roll out into a rectangle approximately 12 inches by 18 inches. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut 3/4-inch strips lengthwise.
- Very lightly grease the center of a baking sheet.
- Working over the baking sheet, start at the bottom of the cornucopia, near the large end, and begin wrapping strips of dough around and around the cornucopia. The dough will be very soft, and will stretch when you pick it up, which is okay. Keep an even pressure; don’t pull the dough, but don’t wrap so loosely that it sags. When you add a piece of dough, pinch it together with the end of the previous piece to keep a continuous coil. You will have to hold the cornucopia up with one hand while you wind the dough with the other. Small spaces between strips is fine; the bread will rise while cooking and fill them in. Place cornucopia on baking sheet.
- Twist two strips together and place the “braid” around the large opening. This will reinforce the cornucopia and add a decorative touch.
- Cut small leaves, stems, vines, and even small acorns and place them artistically on the cornucopia, using a little egg wash to make them stick.
- Brush the entire cornucopia (except the bottom) with egg wash.
- Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes, or until rich golden brown.
- Allow the cornucopia to cool completely on a rack. When completely cool, gently pull the foil and parchment out. You might be able to pull it out in one piece, or you might have to start with the foil, pulling it out in pieces, and then pull the parchment out last. Be patient and take your time.
- It will be sturdier if you let it dry on the counter for a day or two before using, but it may be used right away if you prefer. You can also wrap and freeze it until needed.
This recipe was created for a series called “From Our Thanksgiving Table to Yours” – a collection of Thanksgiving recipes by a wild and crazy group of bloggers who live to eat. My post was the last of the group, so I’ll leave you with links to their recipes in case you’ve missed any of them. We’d like to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!
From Tampa Cake Girl: Sweet Potato Soufflé.
From Hun, What’s For Dinner?: Orange Scented Double Layer Pecan Pie.
From Crumbs in My Mustachio: Bacon Cheese and Green Onion Cornbread.
From Cooking From a SAHM: Knock Your Socks Off Mashed Potatoes.
From Moore or Less Cooking Blog: Cheddar Pecan Dip.