I’m really excited about Thanksgiving. I’ve been planning and reading all our Thanksgiving themed food magazines for weeks. In that spirit, this year, I am on a Quest For The Best Dinner Rolls. I know it’s not even Halloween yet, but I’m not made of free time here, people. So I decided that this week would be the best time to start testing out a few roll recipes.
This is a Peter Reinhart recipe from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. It’s a version of pain de mie, a white bread that I’ve baked before. As a sandwich loaf, pain de mie is basic and good. As dinner rolls, it’s fantastic. I made pull apart rolls, because they’re fun, and a few knotted rolls, because I wanted to try it. That’s what testing a recipe is all about!
- 21.5 ounces of unbleached bread flour
- .38 ounces salt
- 1.33 ounces milk
- 1.66 ounces sugar
- .22 ounces instant yeast
- 1.65 ounces (1 large) egg, slightly beaten, at room temperature
- 1.66 ounces butter melted
- 13 to 14 ounces of water, at room temperature
- 1 egg whisked with 1 teaspoon water until frothy, for egg wash
- 3 tablespoons of melted butter for butter wash
- Sesame and poppy seeds for garnish
1. Mix together the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a 4-quart bowl.
Pour in the milk, egg, butter and 1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon water and mix with a large metal spoon until all the flour is absorbed and the dough forms a ball. If the doughs very stiff and dry, trickle in more water until the dough is soft and supple.
2. Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading adding more flour if necessary, to create a dough that is soft, supple, and tacky but not sticky.Continue kneading for 6 – 8 minutes until the dough is about 80 degrees and passes the windowpane test. Lightly oil a large bowl, and turn the dough to coat it. Cover the bowl and let it ferment for 90 minutes to 2 hours or until it doubles in size.
3. Divide the dough into 2 ounce pieces. For pull apart rolls, shape dough into tight rounds and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place the rolls so that they are just touching.
For knotted dinner rolls, follow this guide for tips.
Place the rolls on a parchment lined baking sheet. Spray all the rolls with spray oil and cover with a towel. Let them rise for an hour to 90 minutes, until about doubled in size.
4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the rolls with whatever wash you chose – I used a coating of butter on half of them, and an egg wash on the other half. I garnished the knotted rolls with sesame and poppy seeds.
5. Bake the rolls for 15 minutes, until golden brown and the internal temperature is just about 180 degrees in the center. Remove from pans immediately and cool on racks for at least 15 minutes. Then, impress your dinner guests – or just yourself and your boyfriend, in my case – and enjoy!
Now, these photos make it clear that the egg wash gave the rolls a much better golden color. You can see below that the rolls on the right side of the pull-apart rolls are much more golden. The butter wash, on the left side, didn’t do much of anything, from what I could tell – the rolls were less golden and there wasn’t much a taste difference, either. So, I really prefer the egg wash.
The knotted rolls look really fun, and it was good dough shaping practice. But taste wise, I prefer the pull-apart rolls. The knotted rolls had more exposed surface area and were slightly drier – if I made knotted rolls again, I would take them out of the oven just a little bit sooner. But they do look impressive, if I do say so myself.
These rolls were delicious. It’s funny – in almost any other circumstance, I prefer a crusty, rustic, artisanal type of bread and roll. But there’s something about Thanksgiving that just requires a warm, soft dinner roll for sopping up gravy. These are perfect for that. We also learned that these are perfect snacks before dinner and perfect with eggs and bacon on a Saturday morning. All in all, these are an excellent classic American dinner roll, and really easy to make!
We aren’t stopping there, though. This is a quest for The Best Thanksgiving Dinner Roll of 2013, and there are more things to try! I’m planning on making these again, only using buttermilk, and I’m also going to try a potato roll. Stay tuned…