A while back, I decided to try my hand at making our sandwich bread.
I checked out books from the library and poured over recipes online. I bought yeast and vital wheat gluten and refreshed my stash of bread flour, which I typically use only for cookie making.
Then I set to work, making popular, tried-and-true recipes with the idea that we could slash our grocery budget and enjoy freshly-baked, whole grain bread several times a week.
Well, it didn’t really work.
The bread was OK, but no more than OK. It was never fresh and ready quite when we needed it, so we were always eating bread that was at least day old. And even the recipes designed for busy cooks seemed a little fiddly or required somewhat obscure ingredients. In the end, the return on investment just wasn’t there.
After a few weeks, I ran out of steam and went back to good old Pepperidge Farms.
Maybe making sandwich bread just isn’t my thing.
But these dinner rolls! They are amazing.
Made with run-of-the-mill ingredients, these rolls are easy, reliable and utterly foolproof. Best of all, they can be largely made ahead (well ahead) so that you can proudly set soft, yeasty, fresh-from-the-oven rolls on the dinner table with practically no last-minute effort.
Make them now and whip them out on Thanksgiving afternoon or pair them with a big pot of soup for the most effortless dinner party ever. You can thank me later.
Adapted from Fine Cooking.
These classic dinner rolls are soft and tender. The dough is easy to work with and not at all sticky — a great beginner yeast dough. I use a stand mixer to mix and knead the dough, but you could certainly do it by hand if you prefer.
I've replaced half the all-purpose flour with whole wheat and added a few notes to the instructions, but otherwise left this recipe pretty much untouched.
- 18 oz. (4 cups) all-purpose flour (I replaced half of this with white whole wheat flour)
- 1 packet (2-1/4 tsp.) rapid-rise yeast
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 cup milk
- 4 oz. (8 Tbs.) unsalted butter
- 3 large egg yolks
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour(s), yeast, sugar and salt. Fit the mixer with the dough hook.
In a small saucepan combine the milk and butter and heat gently until the butter has melted and the mixture is warm (about 115-125 degrees).
Add the warm milk mixture and the egg yolks to the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until combined. Then, increase the speed to medium-high and let the machine knead the dough for about 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Remove the dough from the bowl, grease the bowl and then replace the dough, turning it once or twice so that it becomes lightly coated with oil. Cover the bowl and leave the dough to rise until it is doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
When the dough has doubled, turn it onto a work surface (no need to flour, the dough won't be sticky) and cut the dough into 16 equal pieces. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish or two 9" round cake pans.
Use your hands to shape each piece of dough into a ball (just roll it as though it were Play-dough or clay and pinch together any seams on the bottoms) and place it in the pan, seam side down.
Cover the pan(s) and let the rolls rise again until almost doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. When the dough has risen, bake, uncovered, until the rolls are puffy and golden about 15-20 minutes (I let mine go a little too long this time. I recommend pulling them when they are browned but not quite as dark as in my pictures.)
To make the rolls ahead of time, shape the rolls and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Do not allow to rise for the second time. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for an hour or so, until the rolls are frozen solid, at which point you can remove the rolls from the baking sheet and just pack them in a ziplock bag and return to freezer. They will keep well in the freezer for a month or so.
When ready to bake, pull the rolls from the freezer and arrange in the baking pan(s). Cover with plastic wrap and allow to thaw completely at room temperature, then rise until doubled in size. In my kitchen, this typically takes a total of about 3 hours. Bake as directed above.
Alternatively, let them thaw all day in the refrigerator and then leave, covered, to rise at room temperature until doubled.