Usually my bread taste goes in the rustic/sourdough bread direction. Yet, from time to time, I crave for those fine buttery dinner rolls that seem to be out of fashion among food lovers today. I had one of these butter rolls attacks just last week. Having some time to prepare a special dinner -more about that later- I decided to give myself a little extra work and make some rolls for the occasion. I was looking for something which could be flavored easily, since I wanted to bake a few different kinds of bread, so I took a rather standard recipe and added either chopped fine herbs, crushed green pepper or chopped pistachios and pine nuts. I also gave each flavored bread a different shape to increase the feeling of variety.
These rolls are a slight modification of the Parker House Rolls recipe included in Eric Treuille’s and Ursula Ferrigno’s Bread. There are a few improvements to make. Next time, I will try to slightly increase the butter content in the recipe, or maybe to substitute part of the milk with cream. Also I will never ever again store rolls and breads brushed with melted butter in a cold room. As you might see from the picture, the usual, glossy shine of butter glazed rolls turned into a streaky surface, no doubt from the butter crystallizing back.
Apart these two little quirks the rolls turned out fluffy and rich, the different flavorings coming out clearly without overpowering the buttery taste of the dough. Definitely a keeper.
Flavored Dinner Rolls
makes 16-24 rolls, depending on size
1 tsp dried active yeast
150 ml milk
100 ml water
60 g unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to glaze (or use egg wash instead)
1 1/2 Tsp sugar
2 medium eggs, beaten
about 580 g type 550 flour (12% protein content)
2 tsp salt
Flavoring of choice: herbs, green pepper, bacon crumbs, grated cheese, chopped nuts… you name it.
Dissolve the yeast in 50 ml of lukewarm milk. Leave it until it starts forming the first bubbles. You can leave this step out, as dried active yeast requires no activation, but I prefer indulging in this little quirk since it allows me to test if the yeast is still OK. Lately I’ve had too many dried active yeast packages turn out to be almost dead.
Mix the remaining milk and water. Stir in butter and sugar, until the sugar is dissolved. Add the eggs and set aside.
From this point onward I worked with my mixer, which makes the kneading much easier, but, if you like, you could do this by hand. Stir flour and salt together in the mixer bowl and add the yeasted milk. Using the dough hook attachment going at the slowest speed setting slowly add the milk-butter-egg mixture till it is incorporated into the dough. Turn the speed up to the next speed setting and let knead about 15-20 minutes, till the gluten is nicely developed.
Note: If you have strong bread flour you might want to increase kneading speed and shorten kneading times. I’m personaly becoming a fan of slow and long kneading.
Add the flavoring of choice during the last 5 minutes of kneading. Flavoring amounts really depend on what you’re after. For example: one tablespoon of finely chopped green pepper, will give the dough a clear but subtle pepper taste, three will make for very peppery bread.
Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover it with a moist cloth and let it rest at room temperature till you notice the first signs of rise. Cover the bowl with plastic foil and transfer to your fridge for 12-14 hours.
After this time the dough should have doubled, if not remove from the fridge and let rise at room temperature till it does.
Portion the dough in as many parts as desired rolls. Dividing into16 parts will give rather large rolls, while 24 will give two- or three-bite sized rolls.
Shape each portion into the desired shape. A few ideas: roll the dough around the working surface with your cupped palms till you have round rolls, roll into long ropes and roll either into snail or twist rolls. The possibilities are almost unlimited; just use your fantasy.
Transfer the shaped rolls to a baking parchment lined baking sheet, cover with plastic and let proof till doubled. You ca do this at room temperature, for a quicker proof, or even in the fridge, where it will take another 8-10 hours for the rolls to be ready for baking. I used an in-between approach, letting the rolls proof in the coldest room of our house, about 10-12 ºC, for about 5 hours.
Preheat your oven at 200 ºC. Just before baking brush the rolls with melted butter (or egg wash). Bake 15-20 minutes, till golden brown, turning the baking sheet back to front if your oven bakes irregularly.
Cool on a rack and enjoy!