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Pull-apart dinner rolls

Dinner rolls ©DPaul Brown

Bread's kind of a big deal in the Bay Area. Setting aside the obvious connotation with soudrough, we've had some of the leading artisanal bakeries in the nation for decades now. We're blessed in that regard. Practically every store carries at least one of the major bread baker's products, whether Acme or Semmifreddi's or Della Fattoria or what have you. And very good breads these are, if you're looking for hardy, rustic loaves or a fine baguette. Or, um, sourdough. But sometimes, especially when accompanying a holiday meal, nothing satisfies more than a light, fluffy white roll. And as lovely and lovingly made as the artisan bakers' breads are, this is one hole in the repertory I've yet to see filled adequately.

Luckily, I am married to an increasingly skilled baker. (Well, maybe not so lucky for my waistline.) Armed with a copy of The Bread Baker's Apprentice and his own innate ability to coax magic from flour, water and yeast, he mastered the dinner roll in no time flat.

According to him, these rolls are easy as bread making goes. I'll take his word for it. When we made the first batch, he asked me to help shape the rolls. There was little mystery about which one of us touched which piece of dough. His were perfectly smooth orbs; mine were deformed masses. Fortunately, even I could not destroy their rich flavor.

Pull-apart dinner rolls
Adapted by DPaul from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice

Perfect dinner rolls or buns every time. Last week I made five batches of rolls/buns and everyone raved about them. I have been using my Kitchenaid stand mixer to do most of the heavy work. We have the large Kitchenaid so I found a double batch works best with the dough hook. You can always freeze off the shaped rolls for cooking later, similar to the way you freeze off pizza dough; but that is another post. I always error on a wetter dough as it is easier to add flour than to add moisture. All measurements are by weight except the buttermilk.

18 oz bread flour (about 4-1/2 c.)
0.40 oz Salt
1.5 oz Sugar
0.25 oz instant yeast
1 egg (1.65 oz) lightly beaten
2 oz butter
1-3/4 c. buttermilk at room temperature

Bread ingredients ©DPaul Brown

  1. Attach the paddle to the mixer. Add flour, salt, sugar and yeast in the stand mixer bowl. Mix on low speed until combined. Combine the egg, butter and buttermilk in a separate container. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and continue mixing on low until the mixture comes together.
  2. Switch to the dough hook and ‘knead’ the dough for 6-10 minutes on medium-low setting. Add a little flour at a time, occasionally stopping to scrape down the sides and bottom. The dough should stick a little to the very bottom of the bowl but should not be sticking to the sides.
  3. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead for a final few minutes. Use a thermometer to check the temperature of the dough; it should be around 80 degrees. Using scissors, snip off a roughly 2-oz section of dough. Using your hands, flatten out the dough and stretch it out. Rotate the dough and continue to stretch the dough out, similar to pizza dough shaping. You want to be able to stretch the dough to the point you can easily see light through it. If the dough tears, continue kneading for another few minutes and try again. You should be able to stretch the dough, with out tearing. You should be able to see light easily in the stretched dough. The dough should still be a bit tacky to touch. If the dough is too dry, besides being harder to knead, your final product will not be as moist.
  4. Remember to add the snipped dough back to the round. Knead for a few minutes to re-incorporate the segment. Transfer the round to a lightly oiled bowl, lightly oil the top of the dough and cover with plastic wrap.
  5. Let the dough rise for 1-1/2 to 2 hours depending on the temperature of your kitchen. The dough should double in volume.
  6. Remove the dough from the bowl. Using a kitchen scale, divide the dough in to 1.5 oz balls (3 oz for Hamburger/Hotdog buns). Working on a slightly wet wooden board, shape the dough portions in to a ball, trying to create surface tension. By shaping your hand into a “C” shape and rolling the ball in a counterclockwise circular motion should achieve the desired surface tension. Place the shaped rounds, barely touching each other, on a baking sheet; I line mine with a Silpat. Mist the rounds with oil, cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 60-90 minutes or until the rounds have doubled in size.
  7. In the meantime heat your oven to 400ºF. Brush the tops of the rolls with an egg wash.
  8. Bake the rolls for 15 minutes, give or take. The tops should be golden and the internal temp should be just above 180 degrees. Move the rolls to a cooling rack.
  9. Let the rolls rest for 10 minutes then serve. Leftover rolls can be stored in a plastic bag, away from light and heat. Leftover rolls will easily last 1-2 days and are great for sandwiches.

Related: Find more yummy yeasty goods at YeastSpotting.

This Post Has 11 Comments
  1. Not a sourdough fan but dinner rolls are my absolute favorite! I think I need some of DPaul’s magic to rub off on me. If I’d made those, they’d be shaggy and flat! 😛

  2. These look great. I’ve printed off the recipe to have a go. A question though . . . have you ever used this recipe with fresh herbs? I like dinner rolls with some herbs and wonder if that would throw off the chemistry?

  3. I see no reason that fresh herbs would affect the recipe, though I would probably use dry-ish herbs like rosemary or thyme for best effect.

  4. Poofy, fresh, home-baked rolls are the best! If left to my own devices, I would fill up on them alone and forget about the rest of the Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. Would that be so wrong? OK, don’t answer that…. 😉

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