Aidan and I are temporarily in the mid-west, visiting our families and enjoy a bit of a holiday break. The direct deposit notification in my inbox this morning tells me its the end of the month, which means that the new year is right around the corner. Aidan and I have been having an ongoing conversation about new year’s “resolutions,” which I think are dumb because they are usually vague and seem more like comments on things that people hate about themselves than a decision to do things differently. I told Aidan that it seems like a better idea to just set a couple of goals for things you’d like to accomplish over the course of the year. But, Aidan says, this “goals” business is really just another way of talking about resolutions, which I was ready to concede until I was watching some morning news show on Christmas and they had a psychologist on encouraging people to set goals instead of resolutions. And if a morning show psychologist says goals are better than resolutions, it must be the truth.
Thus, I’ve set five goals for 2011 that involve reading Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, blogging more consistently, starting a yoga routine, participating in NaNoWriMo and making more bread. I came up with this list a few weeks ago while I was distracting myself from finals work, but the dinner rolls I made on Christmas only testified to the fact that I need more bread in my life. Aidan suggested at some point that we buy the dinner rolls that come in a can so that I would have less cooking to do on Christmas. It was a sweet thought, but I assured him making the rolls was no big deal. And when we sat down to eat on Christmas, the first thing that he said was, “These rolls are amazing–way better than anything that could ever come out of a can.” They were, indeed amazing. So amazing that the picture I took of them while they were still in the pan is the only picture I have because we ate them ALL.
This recipe is from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible, and is really just a variation of her white sandwich loaf recipe, divided into little dough balls, bathed in butter, and then baked to cozy, soft deliciousness. The other nice thing about this recipe is that you can partially bake them ahead of time and then throw them in the oven for a few minutes right before you’re ready to eat so you can serve them warm. They’re heaven. Plus, they look so cute all nestled together in the pan. What more could you want?
Butter-Dipped Dinner Rolls (adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible)
For the starter:
- 1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
- 3/4 c plus 2 tbsp water, at room temperature
- 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp honey
- 1/4 tsp instant yeast
For the flour mixture and dough:
- 1 c all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp dry milk
- 1/2 tsp instant yeast
- 4 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/8 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- For the starter, combine the flour, water, honey, and instant yeast in a large bowl. Whisk the ingredients until smooth and long enough to incorporate air into the starter–about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and set aside.
- For the flour mixture, whisk together 3/4 c flour, dry milk, and yeast. Reserve the remaining 1/4 c flour to add in as necessary while kneading the dough. Sprinkle the flour mixture on top of the starter and cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap. Allow the starter to sit at room temperature for 1-4 hours. (After sitting at room temperature, you can put the starter in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Just be sure to let the starter sit at room temp for 30 minutes to an hour before you begin kneading.)
- Add the salt and softened butter to the bowl and using either a wooden spoon, spatula, or your hands, mix the starter and flour mixture until all of the flour is moistened. Knead the dough in the bowl until it starts to come together and then turn the dough out onto a well-floured counter. Knead the dough for 5 minutes. The dough will be very sticky, but add only as much of the reserved 1/4 c flour as necessary. Cover the dough with your mixing bowl and allow it to rest for 20 minutes.
- After resting, knead the dough for another 5 minutes until it is very smooth and elastic. It should be tacky to the touch but should not stick to your fingers. If necessary, add additional flour to the dough while kneading but keep in mind that adding too much flour will result in dense rolls.
- Place the dough in a lightly oiled container, cover with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow it to rise until doubled–1 to 1 1/2 hours.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and gently press it into a rectangle. Pull out and fold over the dough from all four sides of the rectangle to form it into a tight package, place the dough back into the container, and cover it once again with the plastic wrap. Allow it to rise until doubled (this time the dough will rise higher because of the air incorporated from the first rise)–1 to 2 hours.
- Turn the dough out on a lightly floured service and gently press it down to push out the air. Roll the dough into a long log and then cut it into 12 even pieces. Shape each piece into a small bowl, being sure to pinch closed any seams that might result.
- Roll each ball of dough in the melted butter to coat them completely and then arrange the dough, evenly spaced, in a lightly greased 9″ round pan. Cover the pan with lightly greased plastic wrap and allow the rolls to rise until doubled–around 1 1/2 hours.
- When the rolls have doubled, bake them in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in the center of the rolls reads about 210 degrees. If you are making the rolls ahead of time and would like to reheat them right before you serve them, bake them for 15 minutes (so they register around 180 degrees) and then reheat them for 5 minutes in a 375 degree oven.
- Unmold the rolls from the pan and allow them to cool until just warm and then pull apart. If desired, brush the tops of the rolls with additional butter.