From cake mix to dinner rolls

Sheryl Sollars - Welcome To My Kitchen

Today I want to talk to you about dinner rolls. With Thanksgiving just two weeks away, we need to start thinking of the menu you are planning for that big day.

As a former 4-H’er, I learned to make yeast and quick breads in my early teens. Since yeast breads are not always the easiest thing to make, it is a project that you complete after you have been cooking for a while. Yeast breads are not really hard, they are just more time-consuming than quick breads.

For those of you who have not ventured into baking breads of any kind, let me explain the difference. Quick breads are usually made with a “sweet” batter and are usually made with fruit or vegetables like carrots or zucchini and often nuts.

In fact, my mother used to make the best nut bread you have ever tasted. The “leavening” agent (ingredient used to cause the dough to rise) for quick breads is either baking powder, baking soda or sometimes both. The nut bread was made with baking powder and a pinch of salt. I always add vanilla to my quick breads as it really gives them a great flavor. Quick breads are just what the title says — quick. They are a mix and bake recipe and are usually dense and very moist.

Today I will talk about my fabulous Cake Mix Dinner Rolls. Yes, you read that right, dinner rolls that are made from a cake mix!

This is a recipe that I have had in my recipe file for several years, saving it for the next time I was entertaining. Then when the time came, I would skip over it thinking that it might not be a good idea to serve them until I had made them first for my taste-test approval.

Unfortunately, history kept repeating itself and I wouldn’t pull it out until I was planning dinner for guests again. A few weeks ago, I was searching for a favorite old recipe and came upon the one for these dinner rolls. I had plenty of time, an extra yellow cake mix and nothing to lose. Well, I can now officially pass along the instructions for one of the best and easiest recipes I have ever made.

As you can figure out for yourself, yeast breads are made with yeast rather than baking powder and are not usually sweet in flavor (with the exception of sweet doughs used in making coffee cakes, doughnuts and cinnamon rolls). Because you are using yeast to leaven the dough, the outcome will be much lighter bread with the taste of yeast in each bite.

Unlike quick breads, this batter requires several steps before it can be baked. It is mixed with a mixer, kneaded and then allowed to rise or expand at least 2 times before it is baked. Kneading is not difficult but does take a little practice and is essential to start the chemical process that yields a light as air result.

In a large bowl, mix the batter per directions, allow it to rise and then divide it into half. I shape half of it, preparing it for baking and place the remainder of the dough (covered) in the refrigerator for use in the next couple of days.

Without a question, these were the best dinner rolls I have ever tasted. They were light and sweet, somewhat like the Hawaiian Bread brand available in food stores. The next day I roll out the remaining dough, spread it with butter, cinnamon and sugar creating awesome cinnamon rolls. Another time, when I made them I used the second half of the dough and made doughnuts rolled in powdered sugar. “Krispy Creme” eat you heart out!

Now here is the recipe and I am going to tell you just how to turn the dough into great-tasting bread recipes.


1 pkg. active dry yeast

1 ½ Cup very warm water

3 ¼ Cup all-purpose flour

½ Teaspoon salt

½ package yellow cake mix*

½ stick butter, melted

* Measure the contents of an 18 oz box of cake mix (I used butter flavor, yellow) but you can use white if you prefer and use half of it and place the remainder in a Ziploc bag for a future recipe of dough.

Measure water in a 2 cup measuring cup making sure it is warm, but not hot. Sprinkle yeast over water and then stir. Let set. In large bowl, mix flour salt and cake mix. Stir the yeast water again and then pour into flour mixture. With a hand mixer, mix until well blended. Place in large greased bowl. Cover and let rise until double. (45-60 min). Remove from bowl and place on counter top covered with flour. Lightly roll into a rectangle 11” x 14”. Cut into 4 pieces long ways and 8 pieces wide, giving you 32 rectangle pieces. Place on greased cookie sheet. Brush top of rolls liberally with melted butter. Spray a piece of waxed paper with Pam and cover rolls. Let rise until double again (45-60 min). Remove paper and place on middle shelf of preheated oven (350 degrees) for 15-20 min. or until lightly brown and firm to the touch. Remove and brush with more melted butter. Serve hot with butter!

NOTE: These can made into pan rolls or individual ones, baked in a muffin tin.

For cinnamon rolls

After rolling dough into a 10” x 16” rectangle, spread with 4 Tablespoon softened butter. Sprinkle with a mixture of ½ Cup sugar and 3-4 Tablespoon cinnamon. Starting at narrow end, roll into a log and then seal edges with water. Cut in 1” slices and place in oblong greased baking dish. Let rise until double. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and spread with icing made of

3 Tablespoon soft butter, 1 Tablespoon cream, 1 teaspoon vanilla and enough powdered sugar to form a spreading consistency.

For doughnuts

Working with half of the dough, roll dough to large circle ½” thick using minimal amount of flour. Cut with 4” doughnut cutter (or a use a large biscuit cutter for outer circle and a 1” plastic cap from a water bottle for inner circle). Let doughnuts rise until double. Heat canola oil over medium high heat, in large deep skillet and place 4 doughnuts at a time in oil to fry. Turn till golden brown and remove when evenly cooked. (Be careful that oil does not get too hot!) Remove and drain on paper towels. When slightly cooled roll in powdered or granulated sugar. Eat Hot!!!!!

After reading these great recipes I hope you are ready to make some rolls. Hope you enjoy them as much as we do! — Sheryl

Sheryl Sollars, a Clinton County native, is an accomplished cook and homemaker. She contributes her column Welcome to My Kitchen out of her love of homemaking and of sharing her thoughts with her readers. If you have cooking questions or a recipe you want to share, please contact Sheryl at

Sheryl Sollars

Welcome To My Kitchen