Friday, December 17, 2010

Classic Dinner Rolls

As everyone who regularly visits here knows I am a big fan of fresh bread. I lean towards heartier breads like whole wheat and rye and make sourdough whole wheat every week for our daily bread. There are times, however, when the bread should be delicate and slightly sweet and maybe a bit airy. A feast like Thanksgiving or Christmas calls for a classic dinner roll. Nothing complicated but full of yeasty flavor and the perfect vehicle for soaking up a bit of gravy. There is also a requirement that the rolls keep fairly well so that a proper leftover turkey or ham sandwich can be enjoyed the next day. This recipe is for the Classic Dinner Roll. Not fancy and not difficult to make. It also has the advantage of being a bread you can make the day before...even to the step of forming the rolls and refrigerating overnight and having them ready to bake just before dinner on feast day when other cooking chores require your time. There are thousands and thousands of recipes that are similar and usually the difference is in the eggs... Whole eggs, just the yolks or a combination. I like this recipe as the yolks bring additional fat and tenderness to the roll and leaving out the whites eliminates any chance of a 'rubbery' product. The other key to tenderness is not overworking the dough. This rendition is for a stand mixer like my big KitchenAid but you can do this by hand and if doing so you probably want to knead the dough no more than about 15 minutes...just until it springs back when punched with two fingers.

Make Ahead Old Fashioned Classic Dinner Rolls

18 oz. or 510 grams or about 4 cups of all-purpose flour(I use King Arthur A/P but any good unbleached flour will do
1 package or 2-1/4 tsp.  rapid-rise yeast (you can use regular active dry yeast but your rise time will be longer)
1/3 cup sugar ( I actually use barley malt syrup instead of sugar but sugar works fine)
1 1/2  tsp. Kosher salt
1 cup milk (whole milk works best but I usually only have 2% and its fine) There is also a version of this recipe that uses  evaporated milk,just use 1/2 cup of evap.milk and 1/2 cup of water.
4 oz. (8 Tbs.) unsalted butter ( plus a little more for the pan and hands) Yes, that is a whole stick of butter...I didn't say these were diet rolls.
3 large egg yolks

Add the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in the bowl of your mixer, with a whisk mix to combine.

Heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan, stirring gently until the butter melts, and it reaches 115F to 125F degrees(no real need for a thermometer should just feel warm and not hot). Pour the milk and butter mixture over the dry ingredients and add the 3 egg yolks. Using the dough hook, mix on low speed until everything just comes together and forms a shaggy mass. Turn off the mixer and let the dough rest for 15 minutes to allow the flour to absorb the moisture. Finally, on medium high speed, mix/knead for about 8 minutes. The dough should 'clean' the sides of the bowl when it is done.

Turn the dough out of the mixing bowl on to a very lighly floured surface and shape it into a ball. Lighly grease a large bowl(twice the size of your dough ball) with butter, and place the dough, seam side down inside. Cover with plastic wrap and set the bowl aside and let it rise until it doubles in size. This should take 45 minutes to an hour depending upon the temperature of the room, but the doubling is what is important. If you are using regular active dry yeast this will take maybe a half hour longer...maybe a little more.

Once your dough is doubled, dump it out on a clean surface like your kitchen counter. You shouldn't need to flour the surface as the dough is soft but not too sticky. If you have some sticking problems then use a little flour to help you along. Now gently deflate the dough by pressing it with the palms of your hands. I usually fold the dough over itself(the left third over the middle third and the right third over that). Using a dough blade or knife divide the dough into 16 equal pieces. With lightly buttered hands form each piece into a ball by stretching and pinching the bottom together. The goal is to get a smooth stretched suface on the top of the roll. It may take a couple of stretches and pinches to get the ball smooth and round.  Place them evenly on a roughly 9 x 13 inch lightly greased baking pan ( I use a jelly roll pan) with the seam side down.

Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until almost doubled, about 30 min. While the rolls are proofing heat your oven to 375°F making sure the rack is in the middle of the oven. Remove the plastic and bake the rolls until they’re browned, about 20 min. These are best served warm.

Feel free to brush the uncooked rolls with an egg wash (one egg beaten with a tablespoon of water) if you want glossy rolls.

Note: Like I said above, you can make  this recipe a day  in advance. Simply cover the rolls with plastic wrap right after shaping and place them in the chill chest.  The next day, about 3 hours before dinner,  remove the pan from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for 2 hours until the rolls warm and double, and then bake the rolls at 375 F.

These are nice generous rolls and you can still have a nice sized roll by making 24 rolls instead of 16. (Hint: Instead of first dividing the dough in half, divide it into thirds and then half the pieces three more times.)

This recipe doubles well but double is about all my KitchenAid will handle in a single batch. I sometimes use 750 grams of flour and adjust the rest of the ingredients accordingly (increase by 50%)

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