Well, our 70-degree days vanished as Old Man Winter temporarily poked his ugly head out of his state of impending torpor. The wind started howling, the rain began to freeze and we relinquished ourselves to a quiet book reading day in the moho. And we did not mind our predicament at all! We both had books we were engrossed in and warm blankets to keep our toes toasty. The only thing we needed was something baking in the oven to release a smell that would waft through the air and tickle our taste buds. The day before I made gumbo so dinner was already to go but it was the smell of something baking that I desired to complete our afternoon of wintery warmth.
And that is why I decided to bake bread….more specifically - dinner rolls…slash…hamburger buns...slash…bread for lunch sandwiches…slash…whatever you want to call them. This is a recipe that I found on one of my favorite cooking blogs (www.thekitchn.com) as I am not very adventurous in the baking arena and do not dare create my own recipes. Baking is a science with ingredients needing to be in exact proportions and is not very forgiving when it comes to mistakes.
When I was a kid, my dad spoiled us with homemade baked bread. It would rise in front of the fireplace on a cold winter day and fill the house with a sweet yeasty smell. He made three kinds – white, wheat and cinnamon raisin and often we would eat the entire loaf right as it came out of the oven. Along the way he learned a very valuable lesson about baking bread…make sure you take a stick butter sitting out on the counter a couple of hours before the bread was done baking so it was nice and soft for spreading on the hot steamy bread. And if he forgot to take the butter out of the refrigerator, mom would remind him!
That lesson was passed on to me and I made sure the butter was softening up nicely before the rolls even went in the oven.
This recipe is really easy and I mixed all the ingredients and kneaded the dough in my stand mixer (yes, our RV does have a Cuisinart stand mixer – some things I just could not bare to give up). There is only one rise and you can shape these rolls to whatever size you want. I made mine larger for sandwiches rolls and hamburger buns and cooked them on a sheet pan. If you want them to be taller and fluffier, use a deeper baking pan as the recipe calls for. Oh, and if you space them evenly they will not have the odd shapes that mine did.
Hope you enjoy!
1 tablespoon active-dry yeast
1/2 cup (4 oz) warm water
1/2 cup (4 oz) milk (whole, 2%, or skim)
1 large egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups (15 oz) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter
In the bowl of a standing mixer (or a large bowl, if mixing by hand), stir the yeast into the warm water and let it sit until dissolved (approximately 10 minutes). In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, oil, sugar, and salt. Add this to the yeast mixture and stir until combined. Add all the flour and stir for a minute or two until it forms a shaggy dough.
Knead at low speed with a dough hook (or by hand) for 8-10 minutes, until smooth but slightly tacky. It should spring back when poked.
Cover the mixing bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about an hour. Meanwhile, line a 9x13 pan with parchment and spray with nonstick coating.
Dust your work surface with a little flour and turn the risen dough out on top. Divide the dough into 12 pieces with a bench scraper or knife. To shape into rolls, tuck the edges underneath to form a plump little package, then roll the dough against the counter or between your palms until round.
Arrange the rolls inside the pan spaced a little apart. Let the rolls rise until they look pillowy and fill the pan roughly 30-40 minutes.
While the rolls are rising, pre-heat the oven to 375°F.
Melt the butter and brush it over the risen dinner rolls. This helps the tops to brown and keeps the crust soft.
Place the rolls in the oven and bake until golden, approximately 15-18 minutes.
Lift the rolls from the pan using the parchment and let the rolls cool on a wire rack until cool enough to handle. They are best if eaten within a day or two, but will keep in an airtight container on the counter for up to a week. Rolls can also be frozen for up to 3 months and reheated in a warm oven.