classic dinner rolls

Delish Dish Editor

Make-Ahead Holidays—Now’s the Time to Start!

Seasons greetings, everyone! Jessica Christensen, senior editor with Better Homes and Gardens special interest titles here to welcome you to December—the busiest baking time of the year. I love baking during the holidays (and any time, really) but with my 9-month-old son demanding the majority of my time this year, my baking is going to be more structured and organized—as in make-ahead everything!

Which leads me to last weekend. When my son’s nap time rolled around, I set to work on a batch of rolls to freeze for Christmas dinner. My choice: Feather Rolls, a time-tested recipe from our BH&G archives. Like the name implies, these rolls are soft, tender, and light as a feather (thanks to the secret ingredient of mashed potato!).

However, since I don’t eat dairy products (long story), I had to find a substitute for the butter. My solution to that problem: Earth Balance margarine, the best non-dairy, high-fat margarine on the market for baking. It contains 100 calories per tablespoon, just like butter, so it behaves in much the same way. It’s also free of hydrogenated oils, which is not true of most margarines.The dough came together beautifully—made from flour, sugar, margarine, mashed potato, water, salt, and yeast. Once the ingredients were mixed together, it was a simple matter of kneading the dough until it formed a smooth ball.

Now here’s a big perk of the Feather Rolls recipe—the dough can rise in the refrigerator for 2 to 24 hours. So when I got completely distracted for the rest of the day playing an endless game of peekaboo, it was no big deal. The next day I turned the dough out, cut it into 16 pieces (the recipes says 15 pieces, but it’s much easier to get equal sizes from an even number of bread pieces), formed each piece into a rough ball, and placed the pieces in a 13×9 pan to rise for 40 minutes. The awkward 16th piece of dough had to squeeze in on one end of the pan, but I’m OK with that. Then it was just a hop, skip, and a jump to hot and yeasty baked rolls.

Once the rolls were cool, I wrapped them up in a layer each of plastic wrap and foil, and then placed them in a larger baking dish with a tight fitting lid. Then off to the freezer they went, where they will stay until the big holiday festivities later this month. I plan to pull them out of the freezer the morning of the feast to thaw and then bake them for about 10 minutes at 350°F to warm them up.

Then, because I was “on a roll” I decided to make up a double batch of Mini Focaccia.  I used half of it to make a large focaccia round, and then split the other half of the dough up to make mini focaccia. I topped it with fresh rosemary (from a summer plant I brought inside that is now struggling to survive in my window). I learned long ago that this recipe needs to either be eaten immediately or frozen to keep it from getting tough and dried out. Fresh bread doesn’t last nearly as long as store-bought. So after it was baked off to the freezer it went.

Three cheers for planning ahead! What baked goodies are you going to prep and freeze for the holidays this year?

 


Lauren Brennan

Tips for Better Rolls in a Snap!

Happy Holidays! With Thanksgiving only a few days away, I thought it necessary to talk about something at the dinner table that goes unnoticed the majority of the time: the humble roll. I love making fresh bread and rolls. A lot of my friends however hate it because it takes time, and they can never get their rolls just so. Well, lucky for you, I’m sharing my tips and tricks that make my rolls come out pillowy and soft every time. All these photos are based off of this Classic Dinner Rolls recipe. It’s a yummy and simple recipe and you should have all of the ingredients on hand. Love that!

Tip #1: Use warm liquids, some sort of food for the yeast and fresh yeast! Your recipe could call for warm water or milk or in this case a combination of both. If you don’t have a thermometer like me, you’ll want it to feel warm–like something a baby would be comfortable touching. To the warmer liquid, you’re going to want to add in some sort of food for the yeast {like sugar or honey} plus the yeast. Don’t forget to always double check the expiration date of that yeast!

Tip #2: Knead the dough, but not too much! For firmer pizza doughs, you’re going to want to to add in some flour and knead it for at least 5 minutes to create gluten. Gluten is what makes bread chewy and gives it texture. For moist and soft rolls or cinnamon rolls, you don’t want a whole lot of gluten, so you’re going to keep the dough slightly stickier and you’re going to knead it less. As you can see, this dough is sticking to my hands a little bit so you’ll need buttered hands to work with it. That’s a great sign!

Tip #3: Speaking of butter, use lots! This dinner roll recipe I used calls for you to divide the dough into small rounds, dip each in butter and place three per muffin tin. Don’t mind if I do! Butter makes everything better.

Tip #4: Don’t over bake! After your rolls have risen, you’re going to want to watch these like crazy–especially if you’re unfamiliar with the oven you’re working with! You want them to have color, yes, but there’s a fine line between golden brown and just straight up dry. If you happen to get a dry roll, see tip 3! There ain’t nothing butter can’t fix!

So, those are the very basics in a nutshell. If you follow these few steps, you’ll have fabulous rolls anytime of the year!

If you’d like to print this recipe or find other tips for rolls, click here.