02 December 2011
Homemade dinner rolls simply "make" a comfort food meal. Back in the day, when I was better at multi-tasking, I baked my dinner rolls at the last minute. But these days I bake them as much as a month ahead and freeze them until 2 1/2 hours before serving time. Of course, you can just go ahead and serve these the day you bake them; but I've included instructions for freezing, thawing and reheating.
Sometimes I make other kinds of rolls. I love them all; but these big, fluffy, pull-apart rolls have been my go-to roll for decades. And I think the fact that they have butter, oil, sugar and egg is what makes them stand up to freezing so well.
If, unlike poor little me, you have a heavy-duty stand mixer (I know it must be shocking to find a food blogger who does not!), you can easily adapt my recipe for the mixer. I make all my bread by hand, though I am beginning to think I might need to break down and get a mixer for those days when I'm feeling a little less insistent on doing things the traditional way.
When it's warm, and my house is warm, I let bread dough rise on the counter. In fall and winter, I keep a cooler house than many people do and find that dough takes much longer to rise. So the old slightly-warm-oven method helps hurry things along. Are you a breadaholic like me? Please comment; I'd love to hear about your bread preferences and experiences.
Make-Ahead Pull-Apart Dinner Rolls
(Makes 15 really big rolls)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups water, room temperature
1/4 cup organic canola oil
5 1/2 packed cups (27.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 If your kitchen is cold and you want to speed up the rising time, preheat oven to 200 degrees. When oven reaches 200 degrees, turn it off. (If you have a really old pre-electronic ignition gas oven, just the heat from the pilot light will be sufficient.) Grease large bowl* with 1 tablespoon of softened butter (for first rise). Grease 13x9x2-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon of softened butter. *Using a straight-sided 4-quart bowl makes it easy to tell when dough has doubled.
2 Put water, oil and 3 tablespoons butter in 1-quart glass measure. Microwave on high power until water is warm (110 to 120 degrees), about 2 minutes, depending on your oven. Stir until all the butter is melted.
3 In another large bowl, whisk together 4 1/2 cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour, then add water mixture and egg to the well. With dough whisk or large wooden spoon, slowly stir until soft, shaggy dough comes together.
4 Spread 1/2 cup of flour onto work surface, and reserve 1/2 cup to use as needed. Turn the dough out onto floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, adding more flour if needed, until the dough forms a smooth ball. Place smooth ball of dough in buttered bowl and turn to coat all sides of dough. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in oven until dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour. If the oven rack feels quite hot, put a potholder between it and the bowl.
5 Punch dough down (by pressing down in center and folding in edges), turn out on lightly floured surface. Divide* the dough into 15 equal pieces by first dividing it into 3 equal pieces then rolling each piece into a thick log and cutting each log into 5 equal pieces. Keep dough pieces covered with plastic wrap or overturned bowl as you shape each piece into a ball, pulling edges under and pinching them together on the bottom. I also give them a little roll on the unfloured counter, a motion sort of like moving a computer mouse around. Place in 3 rows of 5 in buttered baking dish. Spray the same piece of plastic wrap with cooking spray, cover dish lightly and return to turned-off oven until rolls have doubled in size, about 1 hour.
6 Remove dish from oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Uncover rolls and bake for 25 minutes, or until well browned. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack for 5 minutes. Keeping rolls together, remove rolls from baking dish and cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Double-wrap with foil (probably one layer of heavy-duty would be sufficient); freeze for up to 1 month.
7 Remove from freezer 2 1/2 hours before serving time. Defrost, wrapped, at room temperature for 2 hours. During last 15 minutes, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place foil-wrapped rolls on a cookie sheet and bake about 30 minutes. Serve hot.
*The best tool for dividing the dough (and doing a lot of other jobs) is a bench scraper. If you don't have one, order the OXO Good Grips Multi-Purpose Pastry Scraper/Chopper. I've had a few others, and this one is the best, has THE best handle!