Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Yeast Dinner Rolls From Scratch

 I'm kind of obsessed with baking crap from scratch and the delectable comfort of homemade yeast dinner rolls.  I didn't grow up eating them from scratch (but I bet my grandmother did), so when I learned how to make them around the age of 14, I decided I was never going back to store bought rolls - like never, never, EVER.  Oh, except for the times when I procrastinate and don't get them made in time for Christmas or Thanksgiving.

There are a zillion yeast dinner roll recipes out there, but they all have pretty much the same stars: flour, milk, sugar, salt, eggs, butter, and the most important rock star of them all: YEAST.  And they all pretty much follow the same basic procedure.
Oh yeast, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.

Let's get baking.  It's not hard.  A little time consuming, but not hard.

I should mention beforehand that you can make your dough with or without an electric mixer.  I've made stuff from scratch for years without an electric mixer and today I did it again.  Do I own an electric mixer?  Why yes, yes I do.  But it's packed up somewhere, so I went old school.

Crack out your ingredients:

  • 4 - 5 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp of active dry yeast (I buy my yeast by the jar, you could use a packet.)
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 1/3 cup of butter
  • 1 tsp. of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbs melted butter to brush on top after baking

Grab a large mixing bowl and add 2 cups of the flour plus the yeast.  Gently whisk together and set aside.  Easy enough.

 Now you're going to grab a small saucepan and add the milk, sugar, butter, and salt.  Heat it just until the butter melts.  You don't want to boil it or burn it.  I tend to stand by the stove and watch it like a hawk and as soon as it looks melty, I take it off.  

Add the milk mixture to the flour and yeast, and with your whisk, whisk it together real quickly.  Make sure all those ingredients are mixed well.  Then add the eggs and whisk together some more.  Continue to mix for a minute or two just to be sure everything is combined well.

Eggs always remind me of eyeballs.  Strange?
After mixing in the eggs.
Switch over to your wooden spoon.  Add another cup of flour and stir.  You will already notice how much thicker the dough is.  If you don't notice, I bet your arm will.

Continue adding flour by the half cup and stirring each time.  I usually stop around having 4 cups of flour total because I like my dough a little stickier when I start to knead.

After 4 cups of flour total.  When the dough "balls up" on the spoon, it is probably firm enough to be turned out and kneaded into a ball.

Flour a nice,  clean, sturdy surface.  Start small, maybe 1/4 cup of flour. 

Now we come to the fun part - kneading.  At this point I would recommend throwing on an apron, ensuring your hair is pulled back and out of your face, and that your wedding rings (or any other hand jewelry) is removed and in a safe place.

 Turn the dough out onto your flour surface and begin to knead.  Everyone has their own style - punch, pick, tickle, stretch, etc., but basically you want to repetitively fold the dough over and push down with the heel of your hand.  Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, but not so sticky that it sticks to the surface or your hands.  Continue to sprinkle flour onto your kneading surface or onto the surface of the dough if you need more flour.  Usually you only need to knead for about 5-7 minutes to get it smooth and elastic.

Not perfectly smooth, but it will do nicely.

Grab a second large mixing bowl.  Pour a little oil in there of some sort - olive, light olive, vegetable, etc. - and with your fingers just rub it all around the bowl so it is well oiled.  Plop your dough ball in there, swish it around, and flip it.  This way the entire ball of dough is well oiled.  

Then you're going to want to place a towel over the top and let it rise somewhere warm until it is about doubled in size.  Depending on how warm it is will depend on how quickly it will rise.  It is winter time here and even with the heat running nonstop, it feels like an ice cube in the house.  So this time I set the oven to "warm" for just a few minutes, then shut it off.  I put the dough in there and shut the door to keep some of the heat in.

Dough after the first rising.

Now that your dough has risen, give it a good gentle punch and plop it out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface.  Let it rest for about 10 minutes.

Dough after being punched down.

Lightly oil your baking sheets or baking pan, whichever you are going to use.  Shape the dough into balls and place on baking pans/sheets about 1 inch apart.  How many rolls you get depends on how big or small you make them.

This time I made 19 rolls,

Cover again and let the dough rise again until doubled in size - about 30 minutes or so.

Heat the oven to 375 Fahrenheit.  Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the tops are a lovely golden color.  I like to brush the tops with some butter as soon as I pull them out of the oven.

And you're done!  So easy!  And delicious.  Try not to eat too many before your family can enjoy them with dinner tonight.  

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