I developed this recipe years ago, based on several of Mrs. Rombauer's icebox roll recipes in her 1943 “Joy of Cooking.” When I first posted this here, in 2010, I called for a mashed potato and its cooking water. But then the more I thought about it, the more I realized that most people make rolls for special occasions, when they have so much else going on that even the few minutes it takes to peel, chop, boil and mash a potato (and clean out the pan) is typically better spent doing something else. So I've been playing with the recipe, substituting potato flakes (unseasoned dehydrated, aka "instant" mash potatoes) and more recently, potato flour. The potato makes the rolls moist, while the oatmeal gives them a bit of texture and great flavor. Enjoy!! ;o) —AntoniaJames
18 - 32 rolls, depending on their size
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
32 grams (3 tablespoons) potato flour
3/4 cup water
1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup (60 grams) quick oats (uncooked)
4 cups (500 grams) bread flour plus a bit more for kneading and shaping
Melted butter or olive oil for brushing on the rolls before baking
In This Recipe
Note: Make this dough no later than the night before you plan to bake the rolls.
THE DOUGH: Measure the water and potato flour into a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Allow it to sit for a few minutes while you get the other ingredients ready.
Add the milk, beaten eggs, oatmeal, salt and honey to the bowl with the potato flour and water. Mix well. It will look like a bit like a cake batter with flecks of oatmeal.
Sprinkle on top the yeast, let it sit for a few seconds, and then stir it into the batter.
Add half the flour and stir to combine.
Add the rest of the flour, stirring, until it's fully combined. I have a stand mixer, but I do this in a bowl with a big spoon. Use your mixer if you prefer.
Using the back of your spoon, make a hole in the middle of the dough and drizzle in most of the melted butter. Then drizzle the rest of the butter over the rest of the dough. Using your spoon, work the butter into the dough. It shouldn't take long, or be difficult. You just want to incorporate it. The dough will be kind of slick.
Oil or butter the bowl or box in which you plan to refrigerate the dough. Put the dough in it, turn it over to coat all of it, then cover. I use a large plastic storage box, but you can a large piece of “press and seal” wrap over a bowl that’s about twice the size of the dough. Put in the refrigerator immediately and keep it there at least overnight.
BAKING: Remove from the refrigerator as much dough as you plan to use, at least two hours before you plan to begin baking it. This dough will hold for about a week.
Mrs. Rombauer says that no kneading is required, at all, for this bread. I enjoy kneading, so once I'm ready to shape the rolls, I give the dough a few good turns on the counter and then let it sit for about 5 minutes to relax the gluten before dividing it up into rolls. The dough tends to be very sticky, so I flour my hands generously, and sprinkle more on the counter, both before I give it that quick knead, and while I'm shaping the rolls.
Decide how many rolls you want to make, and then divide it evenly into the desired number of pieces. I usually shape the dough into a ball and then divide into wedges using my sharpest bench scraper. Roll the small pieces into balls, pulling the dough gently around the sides and down into the bottom, giving it a little pinch to hold the ball together.
Place the balls of dough in a buttered baking pan. For large rolls, I like to use a springform pan, but you can also use one rectangular or two square baking dishes or 9 inch cake pans. We like medium sized rolls, so I usually divide the dough between two Pyrex 8 inch square pans, with nine rolls each.
Cover with a floured tea towel and let the rolls rise for 20 - 30 minutes (less if your kitchen is warm, as they'll rise more quickly). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Brush with butter or olive oil; bake for 20 to 25 minutes, depending on how large the rolls are, how efficient your oven is, etc. They should be nice and golden brown on top. Remove gently from the pan immediately to let the rolls cool on a rack. Try to let them cool for at least 30 minutes. A couple of hours will make them taste even better.
When I'm not working (negotiating transactions for internet companies), or outside enjoying the gorgeous surroundings here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I'm likely to be cooking, shopping for food, planning my next culinary experiment, or researching, voraciously, whatever interests me. In my kitchen, no matter what I am doing -- and I actually don't mind cleaning up -- I am deeply grateful for having the means to create, share with others and eat great food. Life is very good. ;o)