Astor House Rolls

October 28, 2015
4 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Makes 22 rolls
Author Notes

Astor House is thought to be New York's first great luxury hotel, which explains the secret ingredient in these rolls, first published in the New York Times in 1878: Each portion of dough gets a lump of butter tucked inside before baking. Recipe adapted slightly from The Essential New York Times Cookbook (Norton & Company, 2010) —Food52

What You'll Need
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour, or more as needed
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups whole milk, scalded and cooled to lukewarm
  • 7 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon cold unsalted butter
  1. Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water and let stand until foamy. Put 5 cups flour in a large bowl (you can use a mixer with a dough hook if you want) and make a well in the center. Add the yeast mixture, salt, sugar, softened butter, and milk and stir, slowly incorporating the flour from the sides. Then stir and beat the mixture until a ball of dough has formed. Pour the dough and any remaining flour onto a work surface and gradually knead in the remaining one cup of flour.
  2. Put the dough in a clean bowl, cover, and let rise until light and fluffy and almost doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  3. Punch down the dough and knead until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes—you should need very little, if any, extra flour for this step. Return to the bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled in size.
  4. Punch down the dough and divide into 22 pieces. Shape each piece into a tight round (Nancy Silverton instructs: cup your hand lightly around the dough, round it against the friction of a work surface to form a smooth bun, beginning slowly and increasing speed as ball becomes tighter and smoother). Keep the other pieces covered in plastic wrap while you work.
  5. Beginning with the first round, flatten each roll, seam side up, to 1/2-inch-thick. Place 1 teaspoon butter in the center, lift one edge of the dough, and pull it up and over the butter, forming a turnover-shaped roll, and pinch the edges firmly closed to seal in the butter.
  6. Arrange rolls 3 inches apart on nonstick baking sheets (or baking sheets covered with parchment). Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled, about 1 hour.
  7. Heat the oven to 425° F.
  8. Bake until the rolls are puffed, golden, and cooked through, about 16 minutes. Cool on baking racks.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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11 Reviews

cindy November 28, 2019
We really liked these. I’m not a baker, but wanted to try them. 👍👍
Joanna S. November 18, 2017

These rolls can be fully baked and then frozen. When ready to serve, loosely wrap them in tin foil and bake for 10-15 minutes in a 300°F oven, or until they're warmed through. Check on them, though, because you don't want them to dry out or burn!

Another option would be to freeze these rolls *before* you bake them and after they've been shaped. Freeze them on a baking sheet for a few hours before transferring them to a container or freezer bag. Thaw the rolls in the refrigerator overnight and then allow them to rise at room temperature for at least an hour before baking. Bake at 425°F for 16 minutes or until golden brown. (This option is a little riskier because the rolls are yeasted and freezing can affect/hinder yeast activity, but you do get the fresh baked rolls at the end.)
Arliss A. November 22, 2020
Thanks for this! That being said, do they need time to dethaw before popping them in the oven, or can they go straight from freezer to oven?

Rae R. November 8, 2017
Hey - this is a "do ahead" so ar what point or points can I freeze?
SHTX November 8, 2017
You have this recipe listed as a "do ahead" for Thanksgiving. At what point do you freeze them? Can they be frozen at some point prior to baking? Perhaps after the butter has been sealed in?
gisele P. November 4, 2016
What exactly is scalded? Heated until right before boiling? Thanks. Also, how much time, approx, for the dough to "double in size"? Thanks again!
Brianna N. November 23, 2015
Amazing! These came together perfectly during my test run for Thanksgiving. I also tried brushing them with butter and sprinkling with fleur de sel before baking, but the ones that followed the recipe exactly had better rise/color after baking. I kneaded for less than 10 minutes, probably more like 6. Seriously the best rolls I've ever had.
leigh F. November 12, 2015
How much yeast if you aren't using a packet? I buy my yeast in bulk. Thanks.
Cori November 14, 2015
2 1/4 teaspoons! I also buy yeast in bulk so over the course of a lot of bread-based experiments the quantity has been drilled into my memory.
Jennie November 12, 2015
These rolls were a disappointment for me. They're a lot of work, take hours to prepare and didn't hold together when cooked.
Kathleen C. November 5, 2015
Can these rolls be made ahead and reheated on Thanksgiving, with good results?