Here we are, friends, well into our quest for the perfect holiday dinner roll. This week, I baked buttermilk dinner rolls. I used this recipe from Saveur. It measures by volume, not weight, but it turned out okay.
(Sidenote: if you happen to have 40 venison meatballs at home, and you’ve run out of spaghetti – take some homemade dinner rolls out of your freezer, thaw them out, melt some parmesan cheese on them and make mini meatball subs…you won’t regret it.)
¼ oz. active dry yeast
½ tsp. sugar
1¾ cups buttermilk
1 tbsp. honey
5 cups flour
1½ tsp. kosher salt
Unsalted butter, for greasing
2 tbsp. sesame seeds
I left out the sesame seeds and the butter, since I didn’t have to grease a pan.
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine yeast, sugar, and ¼ cup water heated to 115°; let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.
Whisk in buttermilk and honey; add flour and salt. Mix on medium-low speed until dough forms a ball and pulls away from the side of the bowl, 6–8 minutes. (Sprinkle in a little water if dough seems dry.)
Um, yeah, does this look a little dry to you? I added 3 tablespoons of water. In retrospect, I probably could have added more buttermilk instead of water.
I kneaded this by hand for 12 minutes until it looked and felt right. It’s a stiff dough, so the kneading took some work. But:
Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to let dough rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
2. Heat oven to 400˚. Grease a 9″ round springform pan with butter. Uncover dough; divide into 12 portions. Roll each dough piece into a ball; transfer ball to pan; repeat with remaining dough. Cover pan with plastic wrap and set aside to let dough rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Now, I don’t have a springform pan. And frankly, I couldn’t really see the benefit of using one in this recipe – sure, the rolls look nice in the pan, but then you take them out to serve, and all the ones on the edges are unnaturally shaped. So I went with the usual pull-apart roll style that’s become my dinner roll MO. Because it’s fun and it looks cool and I can do whatever I want with my dinner rolls in my kitchen.
This is also 24 rolls, twice as many as the recipe claims to make. But those rolls would have been huge if I only made 12! My rule of thumb is each roll is made using 2 ounces of dough.
So I let these rise, and they start to slightly take over the pan:
In a small bowl, whisk together egg and 1 tsp. water. Uncover dough and brush egg mixture over the top; sprinkle with sesame seeds. (I left off the sesame seeds, but I bathed these things in egg wash. A little goes a long way, I never use the entire egg, and I always feel like I’m using so much!)
Bake until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of dough registers 190°, about 15 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through baking. (If you make only 12 larger rolls, bake them for 35 minutes, as the original recipe says). Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.
(Can you tell I was doing my own photography tonight? Evan is much better at this.)
Things to be careful with:
1. I overcooked these. Since they are smaller than the recipe originally called for, I didn’t watch closely enough and they’re a little dry.
2. I used way too much egg wash – like, there are tiny bits of scrambled eggs in the crevices between the rolls. Whoops!
Despite that, though, these rolls are pretty tasty – they have a heartier, denser texture. However, the flavor is just, well, fine. Not amazing. It’s made us realize that maybe a heartier roll isn’t really what we want, after all – because as soon as we tasted these, we missed that light, airy texture of the potato roll. But as far as flavor goes, I still want more from the potato roll.
I’m starting to think that maybe I need to stray from the traditional roll that I had been planning – maybe the Holiday Season of 2013 isn’t time for a basic, soft dinner roll – maybe it’s time for something different. Something exciting, something new! I think it’s good that I started this quest so early, because now I have time to really branch out and work on new things. I’m thinking some kind of herb roll, maybe a cheddar roll, maybe a brioche roll…stick around because I think things are about to get interesting.