These are the dinner rolls I made for Thanksgiving and I believe they turned out better than any other dinner rolls I’ve ever made. The recipe is based on one I took from Cook’s Illustrated, a publication I recommend enthusiastically. None of their recipes has ever turned out badly for me.
I think that one of the reasons these rolls turned out so good is the interesting folding technique used in their preparation which I believe serves two purposes. First, it raises the gluten in the dough which gives the rolls a nice crust. That can probably be improved on by using Julia Child’s “spritz” technique.
The other purpose that I think it serves is that it makes for a lighter crumb, somewhat in the same way as the layering technique used in making croissants does.
This recipe makes about two dozen dinner rolls.
1¼ cups whole milk
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 package dry yeast
1 large egg, beaten slightly
3½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus a bit extra for dusting working surfaces
1½ Tbsp. table salt
8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces and softened
- Mix milk and sugar in a microwave-safe container and microwave them both long enough to warm—about 95°. That takes about 30 seconds at full power.
- Sprinkle the dry yeast on top of the milk/sugar mixture, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside for ten minutes.
- Whisk the beaten egg into the milk, sugar, and yeast to dissolve the yeast.
- Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix using a paddle attachment for about 15 seconds.
- With the mixer running add the milk, sugar, and yeast mixture in a slow stream for about one minute.
- With the mixer running add the butter one piece at a time for about two minutes.
- Replace the paddle with a dough hook and knead the dough for about four minutes. It should be smooth but still sticky.
- Knead the dough by hand on a floured surface until it is very smooth and no longer sticky for about one minute. Do not add more flour.
- Transfer the dough to a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and allow it to rise until the dough has doubled in bulk.
- Punch the dough down, replace the plastic wrap, and allow it to rest for 5 minutes.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface.
- Pat it into a 9×9 inch rectangle.
- Fold the dough into thirds by folding the left third into the center and the right fold over the rest of the dough. (like a piece of paper). Pinch the edges to seal it shut.
- Make a deep indentation in the dough by pressing along the length of the dough with the side of your hand.
- Fold the left hand side towards the indentation, then the right hand side. Pinch the edges shut.
- Repeat the two steps above 5-6 times. The dough should now be a tight cylinder.
- Roll and stretch the dough until the roll is about 36 inches long.
- Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Cut the dough into triangular pieces by cutting with a sharp knife or bench scraper, alternating left to right at 45 and 135°. You should have 24 rolls.
- Transfer the rolls onto the two cookie sheets (12 rolls per sheet).
- Cover the rolls with clean kitchen towels and allow to rise until doubled in bulk.
- Preheat your oven to 375°F.
- Bake until the rolls are golden brown, about 15 minutes.
- Serve immediately.
The original recipe called for dusting the rolls with flour and placing the cookie sheets into two more cookie sheets to prevent the bottoms of the rolls from being overdone. I didn’t find either of those steps necessary.