Monday, September 03, 2012

Homemade Dinner Rolls Recipe

With helpful hints for beginning bread bakers

We had a potluck at work last week, and I made sandwich buns for it. They were nothing special, really -- just my usual sandwich buns -- but some of those people had never eaten homemade bread before. They were so impressed that it amused me. I guess that they previously thought that hot restaurant rolls were the ultimate in "home-baked" bread. (Although, speaking of restaurant bread, I must say that Panera Bread is good.)

Several of the girls expressed doubt that they could ever bake anything that had yeast in it. A few of them said they'd tried baking bread before and it went badly. And a couple of the young girls asked for the recipe and said they'd like to try it.

So tonight, I typed up my "Never Fail Dinner Rolls" recipe for my adventurous young colleagues to try, and I printed a few extra copies in case the previously-disappointed bread bakers want to try again. I'm actually going to offer them two different editions of the recipe -- the short version and a longer version that I wrote with extra instructions to help beginning bread bakers (below.)

(With extra instructions to help beginning bread bakers)
1/2 cup lukewarm water 
2 Tbsp. yeast (2 pkg.) 
1 tsp. sugar 
2 cups very hot milk 
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup instant potato flakes
1 cup cold water 
2 cold eggs    
8 cups flour (partly whole-wheat, if desired)

Measure the flour into a cake pan and place in a 150° oven until the flour is warm (not hot) to the touch. (This step is needed only if the kitchen is chilly.)
Place 1/2 cup lukewarm water in a small bowl, stir in 1 tsp. sugar, and sprinkle the yeast over the top.
Heat milk until hot, but not boiling; pour over sugar, salt, and oil. Add potato flakes and stir. Add cold water and eggs; stir to combine. Add the softened, bubbly yeast (if it's not bubbly, it has a problem -- try some different yeast) and enough flour (two to three cups) to make a soft batter.
Beat the batter until it is very smooth (at least five minutes with electric mixer, high speed.) Set the batter aside and let it rise for 20-30 minutes.
Add remaining flour a cup at a time, mixing well with a wooden spoon until dough is too thick to stir (or use an electric mixer with dough hooks.) Place the dough on a floured surface and knead it with clean hands to work in the last of the flour. The goal is to make a sticky dough that is just firm enough to hold a soft shape. You will need to grease your hands to keep the flour from sticking to it. You might not need all the flour. Or you might need a little additional flour, but be sparing. Too much flour will make the bread dry. After the dough rises, it will not be as sticky.
Place the dough into a greased bowl; turn the dough over so the greased side is on top. Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and set it in a warm place until the dough is doubled in size. (If your house is chilly, microwave a cup of water for two minutes, remove the water, and set the covered bowl of dough in the microwave. Or turn the oven on lowest setting for 30 seconds, turn it off, and put the covered bowl of dough in the oven.)
After the dough has risen, grease your hands a little with vegetable oil or margarine and using your fists, punch the dough down to its original size. Let the dough rest for about ten minutes.
Working with greased hands, pinch off and shape rolls of dough about 1-1/2 inches to 2 inches in size. Place rolls in well-greased baking pans (best sizes are 9” x 13” or smaller) and set them in a warm place to rise. When the rolls have doubled in size, bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly browned on top and bottom. (OVER)
Remove rolls from oven, brush butter over the tops if desired, and remove from the baking pan. The rolls will “sweat” if you leave them in the pan. Place them on a wire rack to cool. A clean towel is OK, if you don't have a wire rack, but you might have to change the towel if it gets damp under the rolls.
Prepare dough as above, let it rise until doubled in size, and punch it down. After the dough has rested a few minutes, place half of the dough on a floured surface. Pass a floured rolling pin over the dough a couple of times to flatten it slightly. Then flip the dough over, so the floured surface is on top. Make sure the surface beneath the dough is still floured. Roll dough into a thin (1/4 inch thick) rectangle.
Thoroughly grease a baking pan. Spread softened butter or margarine over the top of the dough and sprinkle liberally with a cinnamon/sugar mixture (or with brown sugar.) Add nuts or raisins if desired.
Starting at one of the wide sides of the rectangle, gently roll up the dough, jelly-roll style. Stretch the roll slightly. Slice in 1-inch rounds. As you cut each round, place it in the baking pan, with the cut side down. Repeat the process with the rest of the dough. Allow the cinnamon rolls to rise until doubled in size, and bake as above.
NEVER bake cinnamon rolls on a cookie sheet. Always use a cake pan. (If the sugar-butter mixture bubbles over the side of a cookie sheet, it can start a fire in your oven. Take my word for it! )
Remove baked rolls from pan to a wire rack and cool. Or you can remove them to waxed paper, if you don't have a rack. (Watch them to make sure they're not sweating, if you put them on waxed paper -- you may have to flip them over.) Frost or glaze if desired.
To make a flat, round bun that's good for sandwiches, roll out dough on a floured surface as described above, to a thickness of about 1/2 to 3/4 inch. Cut rounds of dough, using a 3-inch cookie cutter. Or cut both ends out of a can that's about 3 inches in diameter, and use it as a cutter. Place the circles of dough onto a greased cookie sheet; flatten them slightly if they have drawn up during handling. Squeeze the scraps together, let them rest a few minutes and cut or shape them into rolls, too. Allow the buns to rise and then bake as above, until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.
This is a family-sized recipe from an Amish cookbook. It makes at least 2-1/2 dozen rolls, depending on how big you make them. Don't be discouraged if your first batch of bread isn't picture- perfect. With a little practice, you'll soon be impressing everyone with your homemade rolls. Good luck and have fun!


Collagemama said...

Ommm. This all sounds so delicious! And with luck the recipe is easier than the anti-robot security proofs that keep getting more and more difficult to decipher.

Genevieve said...

It is a really good recipe. At the hot milk step, I usually add a cup of oatmeal, cornmeal, wheat germ, wheat bran, or such, and let it sit a few minutes to soften. And I agree about the captchas! Some of them are impossible to read.

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.