Fans of southern cuisine are likely familiar with Lambert’s Cafe. The simple, down-home fare of meat, veggies, and dessert attributed to the restaurant’s success. But it’s no surprise that Lambert’s biggest claim to fame is their throwed rolls.
With locations in Sikeston and Branson, Missouri, and Foley, Alabama, carb lovers will wait in line for hours just to get their hands on a hot-from-the-oven roll. It is unclear when the restaurant started the throwed roll tradition, but if you’ve ever experienced it you know that it is a sight to behold.
The process is simple….hungry patrons are seated at family-style tables. Servers make their way through the dining room with large stainless steel bowls full of sides, such as fried okra, while customers await their main course. As hot rolls come out of the oven, a “roll thrower” donning the traditional Lambert’s attire of suspenders and a bow tie, pushes a roll-filled cart into the dining area. Customers who want a fresh roll simply raise their hand and the thrower will toss a piping hot roll in their direction.
According to the Lambert’s website, they crank out more than 2 million rolls a year!
“Our ovens turn out rolls from 9:15 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. usually without stopping. With this in mind we thought you might be interested in the following: last year we averaged baking 520 dozen rolls per day, for a grand total of 2,246,400 individual rolls,” the website reads. “Our rolls are 5 inches in diameter and if we laid all the rolls that we baked in one year side by side, we would have 177.27 miles of rolls.”
In 1990, Lambert’s shared the recipe for their famous rolls and now we’re sharing it with you! Enjoy!
LAMBERT’S CAFE “THROWED ROLLS”
1 teaspoon sugar
1 package dry active yeast
1/4 cup tepid water (105-110 degrees)
1 cup warm milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten (at room temperature)
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
Combine sugar and yeast in tepid water. Let stand 5-10 minutes until yeast begins to foam.
Thoroughly mix milk, butter, sugar, egg, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the yeast mixture and 3 1/2 cups of flour, adding a bit more if necessary to make a soft, pliable dough.
Turn dough out on a floured board and let rest while you clean and butter bowl. Knead dough gently 4 -5 minutes, adding flour if necessary, until dough is smooth and silky. Return to bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size.
Butter a 12-cup muffin tin.
Punch down dough. Pinch off pieces about 1 1/2 inches in diameter (enough to fill one-half muffin cup), and roll into smooth spheres. Place two such pieces in each prepared muffin cup. (It should be a tight fit.) Cover dough loosely with plastic wrap for 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bake rolls 20-25 minutes, or until light brown. Serve as soon as they are cool enough to throw. Makes 12 throwed rolls.