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Gallery: The Life of a Lion House Roll

The Lion House Roll lives as a legendary thing in the memories of many. Fluffy, buttery, large, and mild—the signature item of the bakery is enough to send anyone into raptures. But it doesn’t come from a long-used family recipe or pioneer cookbook. The current roll is credited to former head baker Bill Ellis and some enterprising Relief Society sisters.

In 1975, at a time when the Relief Society oversaw operations at the Lion House, the Relief Society general presidency came to Bill Ellis and expressed interest in a new roll for the Lion House. Ellis produced several different recipes, and the women chose the current recipe, but requested a few “tweaks” as Ellis said. The rest is history.

Today, 960 rolls are baked at a time, and 4,500 are made daily. Check out our gallery (see the picture box, above) to see how it all works!
And, just for good measure, here's a home-friendly version of the recipe for Lion House rolls. (Don't worry—you won’t be making 960.)


Lion House Dinner Rolls

  • 2 cups warm water (110 to 115° F)
  • 2/3 cup nonfat dry milk
  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/3 cup butter, shortening, or margarine
  • 1 egg
  • 5 to 5 1/2 cup all-purpose flour or bread flour
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

In large bowl of an electric mixer, combine water and dry milk powder, stirring until milk dissolves. Add yeast, then sugar, salt, butter, egg, and 2 cups of the flour. Mix on low speed until ingredients are wet. Increase mixer speed to medium and mix for 2 minutes. Add 2 cups flour; mix on low speed until ingredients are wet, then for 2 minutes at medium speed. (Dough will be getting stiff, and remaining flour may need to be mixed in by hand.) Add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and mix again until dough is soft, not overly sticky, and not stiff. (It is not necessary to use the entire amount of flour.)

Scrape dough off sides of bowl and pour about one tablespoon of vegetable oil; work oil all around sides of bowl. Turn dough over in bowl so it is covered with oil. (This helps prevent dough from drying out.) Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in warm place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours. Sprinkle cutting board or counter with flour and place dough on floured board. Roll out and shape as desired. Place on greased or parchment-lined baking pans. Cover lightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in warm place until rolls are doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Bake at 375° F for 15 to 20 minutes or until browned. Brush with melted butter while hot. Serve with honey butter or raspberry honey butter. Makes 1 1/2 to 3 dozen rolls, depending on shape and size of rolls.

Note: You can freeze shaped rolls for later use. Simply double the amount of yeast used when making dough. After the first rise, shape the rolls but do not rise again. Instead, place rolls on a baking sheet and immediately place in freezer. When dough is frozen solid, remove rolls from pan and place in a plastic bag, squeeze excess air out of bag and seal. Rolls can be frozen for 3 weeks.

Recipe from Lion House Bakery, copyright Deseret Book.