The Rolls are delicate, light, and buttery, while still being a cinch to make. At times I make them once a week to go with soups or Sunday dinner, but only when I'm feeling naughty-- who can eat rolls like this all the time without some guilt? Okay, most men probably could, but those of us who watch our waistlines know better. The point is that they are perfect for Thanksgiving but easy enough to be made anytime you have the hankering for a dinner roll. You need never buy another dinner roll. They just can't touch a homemade one.
The Rolls need to be started the night before, but I'm telling you, the beauty of a well-planned and well-executed Thanksgiving dinner is in stretching out the preparation over a few days. And the night before part only takes 5 minutes. You can do it. I promise you can.
Here's what you'll need to make 2 dozen of The Rolls (but unless there are only 3 of you eating dinner, you'll need more than that!):
- 1 cup milk (skim is fine, but 2% or whole is better)
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt (heaping if it's coarse kosher)
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 1/2 T. yeast (or one packet if you buy them that way)
- a pastry mat or floured solid surface counter (but not until the next day)
- a rolling pin
Put your milk and butter in a large, microwave proof bowl and put them in the microwave long enough to scald the milk and melt the butter (around two minutes). Let this cool for a few minutes, stirring in the sugar while you cool it down. While you wait for it to cool, proof the yeast by putting it in a liquid measuring cup with the warm water and the teaspoon of sugar. Watch it grow for a few minutes. Be sure that the butter and milk mixture is not hot enough to kill the yeast, then add the yeast mixture and the eggs to the bowl and mix well. Stir in the salt, then the flour. Dough will be quite sticky-- that's okay. Now you just put some plastic wrap over the top of the bowl and put it in the fridge overnight-- or if you live in a cold place (but not too cold) you could just keep it in your garage overnight. (By the way, these actually need about 4-5 hours of chilling time, just in case you don't want to do it overnight.)
The next day, punch down the dough. Sprinkle flour over your work surface. I use a pastry mat, but if you have a solid surface countertop, you can just use that. Take half of your dough and gently roll it out into a large circle, sprinkling dough with flour if it sticks-- but the less flour you add, the lighter the roll. Once the dough is in about an 14-16" circle, use a knife or pizza cutter to slice it in wedges like you are cutting a pizza. To get two dozen small to medium rolls, cut 12 wedges in each circle. If you want bigger rolls, cut each wedge into 10 or 8.
Take each wedge individually and roll it up into a crescent. Place it on a greased cookie sheet or baking tray. I put one dozen on my jelly roll pans (large cookie sheets). Allow to rise until double-- in most kitchens that will be about 90-120 minutes, but it depends on how warm your kitchen is.
Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown, between 10-14 minutes depending on your oven. If desired, brush with melted butter.
Look, see how easy those are?