Dinner Rolls, soft & sweet

As I am in the process or making dough for about 6 dozen dinner rolls, I wondered to myself if I had ever posted a recipe for this.

I have, more or less.

First though, you need to see the pictures of the baby chicks…

I could only catch 3 in the shot at one time, they kept running off with crumbs of bread.

I could only catch 3 in the shot at one time, they kept running off with crumbs of bread. They would only take the crumbs from mama, not from our hands.

Anyway, here is one recipe for a sweet dough that makes wonderful rolls.

Here is my process.

You mix the dough.

Side note:

I no longer measure the flour. Once you learn to gauge the dough by look and feel, it frees you up to make any amount you want, lessor, more whatever. I follow ingredient lists and measure more or less, the other ingredients. But the amount of flour I can just tell by look and feel now. It’s the liquid to flour ratio. If I want a wet, slack dough for say, pizza dough, ciabatta or whatnot, I leave it wetter. For other regular doughs, I add flour until it is tacky but not too sticky. If I want to make more dough, I maybe add a bit more milk/water, maybe another egg or a little more sugar or honey. Then I add enough flour to compensate.

Back to business.

You knead the dough, either by hand or my a standing mixer. If you are using a bread machine, it is doing all this for you. Rolls and pastries do not need to be kneaded very much. They do not need the gluten development, which is the whole point of kneading anyway. You only really knead it enough to make a smooth ball. Thats also why you don’t need to use bread flour. You can, but you don’t need to. The bread flour is a high protein flour, again, to develop more gluten, to sustain the growth of a loaf of bread. But we are not making bread here. So, minimum kneading, okay?

Notice it has pulled away from the sides, but is still a bit tacky-sticky looking. This is perfect. Usually some flour is added later in the process when shaping and whatnot. Better to be tacky now.

Notice it has pulled away from the sides, but is still a bit tacky-sticky looking. This is perfect. Usually some flour is added later in the process when shaping and whatnot. Better to be tacky now.

You cover it with plastic wrap to rise for about an hour.

Tick-tock, tick-tock.

You push down the dough, pull it out of the bowl and put it on a floured board.

You cut the dough into about 1.5 oz pieces (if you have a kitchen scale) or just make them the size you want and make sure all the other rolls are about the same size.

You shape them. That is the tricky part. Its even hard to do with someone showing you. But you want a ‘taut’ skin on the dough.

One way is to wrap the little roll around one finger, pull the finger out and pinch the dough down around the bottom.

Another way is to put the little dough on a counter, cup your hands around it  and rotate it in circles. Here, it’s just easier to show you:

You put the rolls side by side, with a little bit of space between each one, in a greased pan or on parchment paper. I am the queen of parchment and use it all the time, buying bulk from Smart & Final. If you want  pull apart rolls, you put them closer, maybe 1/2″ apart. If you want them more individualized, with more crust, put them farther apart so they are not touching while raising.

Oil the tops, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until about double in size, usually less than an hour.

About 1/2 hour in, start heating up the oven. 350 is good for rolls although you could do 375. (I have hundreds, if not over a thousand roll and bread recipes. Most breads and rolls are baked at 375 and above. But for soft dinner rolls, sticky buns, monkey bread, I like a slower heat, 350. I dont want them crusty.)

When they are done raising, the rolls are slightly touching and it has been about 45 minutes, brush them with either melted butter, oil or a wash of a beaten egg or a wash of a beaten egg with a splash of milk in it. You get a different sheen or crust by using different washes or toppings. You find out what you like best by experimenting really. For todays rolls, I am brushing with melted butter.

Once the butter is on, I put them into the 350 oven and set the timer for 12 minutes. At that point I do my assessment.  Each batch is kind of an unknown. Each time I wait, then check on it, there is always that bit of anticipation and a mental sigh of relief when I open the oven and find them puffed and starting to brown. At that point I turn the pans around, front to back and if I have 2 pans, have them switch places.The back of the oven is always hotter than the front. Unless you have a convection oven, which I do not.

I keep baking, but start keeping a sharp eye. This is not the time to wander off and start blogging or catch up on Pinterest.  Stay near the oven and when they are all golden brown, not dark, remove them from the oven and let them cool a few minutes before removing from the pan onto a cooling rack.

Here is one recipe for a smaller batch that will make a good dozen rolls, instead of my mega batch I usually make:

  • 1 1/4 cups milk or water
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, soft
  • 3 1/4 cups flour up to 3 1/2
  • 1/4 cup potato flakes or mashed potatoes (optional) (which adds moistness, its keeping qualities and the starch feeds the yeast.)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. yeast
  • 1 tsp. salt

Beat your egg in with the milk. Add the soft butter, sugar, potato if using and 1 cup of flour and mix. Now add the yeast, stir in and let rest for about 20 minutes. Give the yeastie-beasties time to wake up and do their thing.

Now, stir it up, adding the salt and more flour. Keep slowly adding the flour as it is needed. It will be ‘soaking’ in pretty quickly if you are using white flour. If you are using a standing mixer you can add flour by the tablespoon until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl. If mixing by hand, you will need to pull it onto a floured counter or board to finish mixing by hand, adding flour and kneading it in until it is tacky, but not too sticky. A bench scraper is very handy at this point.

Once the ball of dough is as smooth as a baby’s bottom (yes, a baby’s bum!), put it into a bowl, light mist with oil and cover with a damp towel, plastic wrap or a plate fit over the bowl and set aside to rise for about an hour.

Now, I am just repeating from above, but preheat your oven. Shape the rolls. Let rise about 40 minutes. Brush with butter or oil. Bake about 15-18 minutes, give or take.

Take out and admire before eating. I suggest always making one extra little roll if you can manage it for you to “test taste.”

IMG_3447 (598x800)

Heres a batch I made before with half whole wheat, topped with egg wash and sprinkled with wheat germ.

Heres a batch I made before with half whole wheat, topped with egg wash and sprinkled with wheat germ.

or should I make challah for  Easter?

IMG_1209??????????????????????

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Renee larkins
    Apr 23, 2014 @ 13:09:41

    Oh good grief, the babies are adorable!!!!!

    Reply

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