Simple Dinner Rolls

Most of the time, Mom didn’t use a special dough to make dinner rolls. Her standard bread recipe made enough dough for four loaves, and she often made only three loaves of bread and a pan of rolls for dinner or a batch of dough gods for an after-school snack for us kids.

You can follow my mother’s example by making a batch of Homestyle White Bread (LINK) to make a loaf of bread and a pan of rolls or just do this. The egg yolk gives these rolls a lovely golden tint and a more tender crumb than Mom’s rolls.

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup water
2 tsp. active dry yeast (or 1 package)
1 cup milk
1 1/2 T sugar
1 1/2 T butter
1 tsp. salt
1 large egg, divided
3 – 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

PROCEDURE:

As with all bread baking, start by scrubbing your hands well.

Put one-half cup warm water (90º to 110º) in a cup with a quarter teaspoon of sugar and stir in the yeast. While the yeast is proofing, warm the milk to about 110º and pour it into a large bowl. Stir in the salt and sugar. Melt the butter and add it to the milk. Separate the egg and reserve the white. Stir the yolk into the batter.

Stir in the flour one cup at a time, beating thoroughly between additions. After you have stirred in the first cup, mix in the yeast. Continue adding flour one cup at a time until the dough becomes stiff and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.

Let the dough rest in the bowl for five minutes, then scrape it out onto a well-floured work surface with a spatula and use the spatula to turn the dough to coat it with flour before starting to knead it. Powder your hands with flour, and knead the dough until it is smooth and satiny, about four to five minutes.

If you have never kneaded dough, you should check out Wikihow.com for an excellent lesson on kneading or go to Thekitchn.com for a good video showing you how to do it. Actually, doing both is a good idea. Just go to the sites and use the search for “knead dough.”

Return the dough to a greased bowl, roll it to cover the surface lightly with grease, and cover the bowl with a damp towel. Put the bowl in a warm spot in the kitchen (I use the top of the refrigerator) and let the dough rise until it has doubled in bulk, usually an hour or a little more.

Butter a nine by thirteen-inch cake pan while the dough is rising. Turn the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured work surface, punch it down and knead it five or six strokes. Pat it down to about an inch thick and use a knife or baker’s scraper to divide the dough into twelve to fifteen pieces.

Roll the pieces into balls about the size of walnuts, put them about an inch apart in the buttered pan and cover them with a damp towel.

Preheat the oven to 350º when the rolls have nearly doubled in size. Beat the reserved egg white with a teaspoon of cold water and paint the tops of the rolls before putting them into the oven. Bake twenty-three to twenty-six minutes until they are lightly browned.

NOTES: These dinner rolls are best eaten warm from the oven. If necessary you can warm them at low power in the microwave for a few seconds.

Shrine Mont Dinner Rolls

Our good friends Al and Dardi from Richmond, Virginia, drove us to Shrine Mont many years ago. Shrine Mont is the Cathedral Shrine of the Transfiguration, a retreat and conference center of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia in the village of Orkney Springs, Virginia, on the western edge of the Shenandoah Valley.

As Episcopalians Al and Dardi have stayed at Shrine Mont many times. It is a beautiful venue for meditation, worship and conferences, and the eastern slope of Great North Mountain in the Appalachian Mountains is a good place to escape the humid air of tidewater Virginia. It is also a great place to enjoy authentic homestyle southern cooking in either one of the dining halls.

Dardi shared the recipe for Shrine Mont dinner rolls when we raved about them on the drive back to Richmond after our visit. The instructions from Shrine Mont begin by saying you should start these rolls at 10 AM or later in the summer, but you can arrange your own schedule. Just give the rolls plenty of time to rise.

INGREDIENTS:

2 small potatoes (3 to 4 inch diameter)
Cold water to boil the potatoes
1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 T sugar
1 cake or 2 1/4 tsp. yeast
2 tsp. lard
4 to 6 cups all-purpose flour plus extra for kneading
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. butter to brush the tops of the rolls

PROCEDURE:

Stir the sugar and yeast into a half cup of lukewarm water in a small bowl and allow the yeast to proof while you cook the potatoes.

Peel and quarter the potatoes and put them into a saucepan. Add just enough cold water to cover them. Bring the potatoes to a boil, cooking them until they are fork tender, about twenty minutes. Drain but reserve the water. Mash the potatoes thoroughly to make sure no lumps remain. You should have about a cup and a half of mashed potatoes.

Mix the mashed potatoes and lard with the hot potato water in a large mixing bowl. Let this mixture cool to lukewarm, then stir in the yeast mixture. Add a teaspoon of salt to three cups of flour and sift the flour and salt by thirds into the liquid ingredients, stirring well between additions.

Sift in more flour until the dough begins to come away from the sides of the bowl, turn it out on a well-floured surface and knead until it is smooth and elastic. This is a sticky dough, so kneading will take ten to fifteen minutes. Grease the mixing bowl, form the dough into a ball and turn it in the bowl to lightly grease the surface. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and allow the dough to rise until doubled in size.

Grease two nine by thirteen inch baking pans.

Return the dough to the floured surface and press or roll it out to about a three quarter inch thickness. Divide it into equal portions and roll them into balls about two inches in diameter. Place the balls about a half-inch apart in the baking pans, cover them with a damp towel and allow the rolls to rise until doubled in size. A dozen rolls fit nicely into a nine by thirteen-inch pan.

Preheat the oven to 450º while the rolls are rising.

Bake fifteen to twenty minutes until the rolls are lightly browned. Brush the tops with a little butter as soon as you take the rolls from the oven.

NOTES: As copied by Dardi, the recipe says to make the rolls about three hours before serving. This means that the rolls would be rising more than two hours before going into the oven. If you have a cool kitchen, it might take that long, but I just watch the rolls and pop them in the oven when they are ready.

These rolls keep well for up to two days. You can also freeze them, then pop them in the microwave when you want to enjoy “fresh” dinner rolls in minutes.