December 23, 2013

Easy Homemade Yeast Dinner Rolls

I have forever struggled with finding a dinner roll recipe that I could get along with. And although I am known for making some good food, I have never been associated with making great yeast breads. For years, I was afraid to even try working with yeast. Something about it being 'alive' and 'feeding it' terrified me. But I wanted so badly to join the ranks of my sisters-in-law who could bake some fabulous homemade rolls. So I looked, searched, attempted, failed, over and over until I discovered this recipe. And I studied and practiced different methods to aid in the rising phase until I think I've landed on something pretty darn delicious. And fairly simple for homemade bread. 

These homemade yeast dinner rolls are just the right balance of airy and density with a rich yeasty flavor and a little bit of sweet. They're sprinkled with sea salt and brushed with butter to give them the most beautiful golden top. They are mouthwatering, y'all. Just take it from my 15 year old son who tweeted "Toasted a total of 11 rolls tonight. #exploding" 

They're that good. 

{makes about 24-30 dinner rolls}

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces plus more for brushing
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp sugar
1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup very warm water
3 large eggs, lightly beaten*
2 teaspoons salt {if you're using salted butter, then reduce this to 1 tsp salt}
6 cups all-purpose flour
sea salt for sprinkling
*Euna Mae's is a Great Day Farms brand ambassador

Preheat oven to 200 degrees to create a 'warm place' for the first rise.
 Place milk in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat, and stir in the butter and the 1/2 cup of sugar; let cool.  Add yeast and 1 tsp sugar to the 1/2 cup of very warm water and whisk gently til dissolved; allow to rest for 10 minutes until it's foamy. It'll smell so so good!

Note: It is critical that you use fresh yeast, not yeast that you dig out of the back of your panty from when you built your house in 2004. Yeast looses its pizazz after a few months. So be sure it's fresh so your rolls will rise!

Combine milk mixture, eggs, yeast, salt and 1/2 of the flour in a mixer with the dough attachment, and mix until smooth on low speed. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and stir until a smooth ball forms. Remove from the bowl and knead by hand on a floured surface for about 5 minutes until the dough is combined and smooth, and a gentle finger-poke in the top presses in but slowly springs back a little. 

Now turn the oven off.

Place the dough in a large greased bowl, cover with a light dish towel that is barely damp - and I mean barely - and let is rise in the warmed oven until it has doubled in bulk, about 60-70 minutes. It will spread and fill the bowl more than it will actually rise up. So don't be scared.  At about 30-35 minutes of the first rise, you may turn the oven back on to 200 for just a minute and turn it off really quickly to maintain a little heat in there, as it has surely cooled by this time. Resist the urge to open and close the oven door.

Remove the bowl of dough from the oven.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees again to create a 'warm place' for the second rise.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and punch the dough a few times with a firm fist letting the air out. I sprinkle the dough with flour so it's manageable and not sticky when I make the dough balls. Now pull off balls about the size of an egg, and gently roll into a ball. {approximately 2.5" in diameter} Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet about 1.5" apart. I use a half-size sheet pan that is 13x18 lined with a Silpat, and I think I get 30 rolls on my sheet. 

Now turn the oven off.

Cover the rolls again with a light kitchen towel, and return to the oven for a second rise. In about 30-40 minutes* they will double in size.

Remove from oven, and turn oven to 350 degrees. Bake rolls uncovered for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush tops with melted butter and a light sprinkle of sea salt.

Try not to eat 11 of them.
*{note added 01/10/14} Rising bread depends on many factors; even the weather can affect the rise! I have had to let my bread rise the second time for as long as an hour. They need to nearly double in size. Do not rush the rise!