These days the family likes to hear “Dinner rolls are served!” more than “Dinner is served!” because they can’t get enough of homemade dinner rolls, especially when they are utterly, sinfully, ultimately good, like the ones made from the recipe below.
When the rolls are almost ready, the hungry members of the family line up in front of the kitchen waiting impatiently for me to pull them out of the piping hot oven. One is standing with a plate with butter, knife pierced through it, ready for action. Another is waiting with a bowl filled with quince preserves to slather on the roll halves, and the other is just waiting to gobble the rolls up just like that, in all their glory. I want both the rolls and the dinner. That’s the kind of glutton I am.
Dinner is frowned upon by the majority (not me) and the rolls are hastily devoured while they are still warm. Everybody is happy and looking forward to the next batch of rolls. I look forward to both the dinner rolls and dinner. I like them both.
Seriously, these dinner rolls are so good. I try to contain myself from using superlatives of any nature unless something is really good, but in this case I’ll let it out and scream—These Rolls Are the Best Eveeeeerrrrr! Pillow-soft and delicious, they disappear fast, so be alert.
Serve them with anything your heart desires; they are great with soups, stews, butter, jam, cream cheese, preserves of all sorts—you name it! They also make perfect hamburger buns. These rolls are the best eveeeerrrr! What? Did I just say it again?
Classic Dinner Rolls
Generously adapted from Williams-Sonoma: Essentials of Baking
Makes 15 rolls
Note: While I haven’t changed the amounts of ingredients in the recipe much (only the flour was slightly reduced), I did change the method of preparation a bit and have come up with my own tips so your dinner rolls come out better than you expect (that’s the kind of gal I am…ahem). I usually add wet ingredients to dry, and not the other way around as the original recipe suggests. The original recipe calls for the butter to be just at room temperature, which I though didn’t make it easy for the butter to blend with the rest of the ingredients, so I first melt and cool it then add to the batter. Also, make sure your milk is not freezing cold; bring it to room temperature before adding it to the dough. Otherwise, the dough may not rise at all. You can even warm it up a little, but not much.
Variation: I often sprinkle sesame seeds of Nigella seeds on my dinner rolls before sending them in the oven. Try this, too.
For the Dough:
1 package (2+1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1/4 cup (2 fl oz / 60 ml) warm water (105-115ºF / 40-46ºC)
4 cups or more if needed, all-purpose flour (you will begin with 3 cups then add more as needed)
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup whole milk (8 fl oz/250 ml), at room temperature (important!)
6 tablespoons (3 oz/90 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs, at room temperature (important!)
1 egg, lightly beaten
In a small bowl or a cup, dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, combine 3 cups of the flour, salt, and sugar. Stir to mix.
Add the yeast mixture, milk, butter, and eggs to the flour. Stir to mix with your hands.
Gradually add more flour if needed. Scrape the dough out of the bowl into a lightly floured work surface. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, dusting the work surface with flour to keep the dough from sticking, 5-7 minutes. The dough should be soft but not sticky. Don’t be tempted to add all of the flour at once as you may end up with tight dough. You may not need all of it. The dough should be pleasant to touch. Form the dough into a ball, transfer it to a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in bulk, 1+1/2—2 hours.
Line a 12-by-17-inch (30-by-43-cm) rimless baking sheet with parchment (baking paper).
Punch the dough and turn it onto a clean work surface. Cut into 15 pieces with a sharp knife. Roll each dough piece your hand into a round ball, making sure its surface is smooth. Place the balls on the prepared pan, spacing them evenly, about 2 inches apart. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let them rise until puffy and pillow-soft when gently squeezed, 30-40 minutes.
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375ºF (190ºC).
Brush the rolls lightly with the beaten egg. Bake until puffed and golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Serve immediately.