I found a recipe a few weeks ago claiming to be the "World's Best Dinner Rolls" and since I have been assigned rolls for next week's festivities, and because I wanted to do a trial run before I showed up at my in-laws house with rolls so dense they crack your teeth, I therefore determined to do a trial run on the rolls last night to eat with the chicken and dumpling soup that I was making.
They turned out really well. They are by far the lightest and fluffiest rolls that I have ever made. So, in the event that you, like me, have a tempestuous relationship with yeast, and despite that, have been assigned to bring the rolls this year, AND you consider it a matter of pride to make them yourself.... I give you the recipe for super light and fluffy dinner rolls.
Super Light and Fluffy Dinner Rolls
2 c. whole milk (if you're in a pinch, you can use 2%, but whole is best. Don't use 1% or skim)
½ c. + 1 Tbsp. sugar, divided
1/3 c. (5 1/3 Tbsp.) butter
2 tsp. salt (don't accidentally dump in three, like I did, and then have to make a 1 1/2 times recipe)
2 pkgs. active dry yeast (or 4 1/2 tsp.)
2/3 c. warm water (just get it as hot as it comes out of your tap)
8-9 c. all-purpose flour
3 beaten eggs
1. Stir milk, sugar, butter and salt in a medium sauce pan until the butter melts, stirring regularly, and watch it so it doesn't start to bubble. When the butter is melted remove from the stove and set the sauce pan in a bowl or a sink full of ice. You need to cool the milk mixture down to room temperature or it will kill the yeast. This is key.
2. While the salty sweet milk stuff is cooling, activate the yeast. We do this by stirring together 1 Tbsp of sugar, with the warm water and the yeast. Give it a good stir so that every thing is combined and then let it sit for a few minutes until the yeast has a chance to blossom or bubble or fizz or whatever it does that makes it look like its working. You can also tell that its working when you lean in a little and you can smell the strong yeastiness. This is a good sign.
3. Meanwhile, measure 3 cups of your flour into a rather large bowl. Do not underestimate the size of this bowl or when your dough is rising it will overflow the bowl. That is not preferrable. So, with the large bowl and the flour... Add the milk mixture, but check first to see that it is luke warm. Beat the mixture on low for 30 seconds, scraping the sides as you go. Now, if the yeast mixture is ready for action, pour it in and beat the whole thing for 3 minutes.
4. Now stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can to create a really soft dough. You want to get to the point where you call pull the dough away from the sides, but it will still stick to your finger if you touch it. Don't fret, it will firm up a bit during the rising process and adding too much flour will make it more dense.
5. Now... we rise. When the dough is all mixed, just cover your large bowl with a clean dish cloth and set it in a warm place to rise for one hour. If you're lucky, and you're not me, your dough will remain in its bowl and not make a jump for the counter.
6. When your time is up, punch down dough. Lightly flour your work surface and turn dough out onto surface. Divide in half.
7. Spray 2 9x13 glass pans with cooking spray. Roll first portion of dough into a rectangle and then cut it into 12 equal-sized pieces. This is most easily accomplished with a pizza cutter, if you have one. This dough should be very easy to work with, almost like playdough. Shape each piece into a ball and place in prepared pan. Repeat with remaining dough in the second pan. Cover both pans with a dish towel and let rise again for 30 mins. While you're at it, preheat the oven to 375.
8. Place both pans on a middle rack of the oven and bake for 15 - 18 minutes. Halfway through the baking time, switch the pans so that they cook evenly. When they are golden brown, pull them out and rub a stick of butter across the top of each hot roll.
9. Now pull one out and eat it. Throw the rest in a basket and no one will know that you sneaked one. Mmm.