Wanna impress your guests with the fluffiest dinner rolls ever? Why not double impress and serve them 3 different kinds: plain, garlic and pretzel. If you're the kind of cook that entertains for a big crowd, just feel free to make them in 3 different pans, which will yield a LOT of rolls. But if you're like me and tend to have 6, 8 maybe 10 people over max, then use my trick and make them all in one pan. The yield is 12 fairly large rolls, which in my household is plenty for a small dinner party. And if you have any left over, they make delicious sliders for lunch the next day...especially the pretzel ones! If you've never baked rolls before, dive on in... this recipe turns out wonderfully every time. Enjoy! —Jenya | BlueGalley
Test Kitchen Notes
WHO: Jenya | BlueGalley is a contest vet, and her bucatini with with pork ragu won our contest for The Best Thing You Ate This Year.
WHAT: Rolls so fluffy, you could belly-flop right into them.
HOW: Knead together a super smooth yeasted dough enriched with milk and butter. Shape into big buns, squeeze into a 9-by-13, then brush 1/3 with garlic-herb butter, 1/3 with egg wash, and 1/3 with baking soda boiled with water (those’ll “pretzel” in the oven) before baking.
WHY WE LOVE IT: We can’t resist hot-from-the-oven rolls that pull apart into feathery, wispy, buttery tufts. It’s so easy—and smart—to customize the flavor of the roll with in the baking dish, that we’re dreaming of all sorts of combinations: Parmesan, cinnamon-sugar, curry butter… —The Editors
- Prep time 1 hour
- Cook time 20 minutes
- Makes 12 rolls
- For the rolls:
2 1/2 tablespoons
granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon to activate yeast
luke warm water (preferably 110 to 115 degrees, but 105 to 115° F)
"bread machine" active dry yeast (can use regular active dry yeast, but bread machine is better)
3 to 3 1/2 cups
all-purpose flour, divided
flaky salt for sprinkling (Maldon is great, kosher works too)
- To pretzel and garlic:
minced fresh parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons
egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
- In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, butter, sugar, and salt. Heat over medium heat until the butter has melted, stirring with a whisk or spoon to combine. Turn off heat and remove pan from stove to allow to cool. Note: It can take a long time for the milk/butter mixture to cool in the pan, so I like to transfer it to the mixer bowl or any other bowl that is already chilled. Keep watch, you want the milk mixture to be at 110 to 115° F when you mix in the yeast because it will further activate it. But it can't be warmer than 115, because it will stop growth.
- While the milk mixture cools, prepare the yeast: Heat the 1/3 cup of water until it is in the range of 105 to 115° F (I tend to get better results when it is closer to 115), add the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar, and mix. Then add the yeast by sprinkling it on top and gradually stirring it in with a spoon. Let it sit for 10 minutes until the yeast is activated or very bubbly/foamy. If yeast did not bubble, it is either bad yeast or the water temperature is not correct and you'll have to do this step over or your rolls will not rise.
- Place the milk and butter mixture into a mixing bowl (either part of a mixer or a regular freestanding bowl) if you have not already and add 1 1/2 cups of the flour. Mix first with a spatula or wooden spoon until combined (otherwise it can get messy) and then turn mixer on low (or use a handheld mixer) and mix for about 30 seconds. Halfway through, turn off mixer or handheld mixer and use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl back into the center and then continue mixing. It is very important to scrape the bowl occasionally when mixing so everything is combined evenly.
- Add the bubbly yeast to the bowl and mix on medium high for 3 minutes. In the meantime, crack eggs and beat with a fork. Then add the eggs to the bowl and mix for 30 seconds, scrape bowl again, and mix another 20 seconds or so. Don't over-mix! You want the eggs to be well mixed in and the batter to be dripping from the mixer attachment as in the picture.
- Add 1 cup of flour and mix on low for 10 seconds, just to blend. Now comes the hard part: Adding just the right amount of flour. Add another 1/2 cup and mix another 10 seconds or so. The dough should be getting sticky and heavy. If it is sticking so much that you can't pull it away from the bowl, add another 1/4 cup flour and mix about 5 seconds, just to incorporate. If you are able to pull it off the bowl and if it looks like the dough in the photo, you added enough flour. If it is just too sticky, add another 1/4 cup, but that should do it. The dough should really be sticky and BARELY pulling away from bowl when probed with the spatula.
- Scrape dough off of the mixer hook and into the bowl. Pull it off of the bowl and gather into center. Cover with a slightly damp towel or napkin. Let it rise in a warm area (basically room temperature, just not where there is a draft) for 1 hour.
- Now, you need to form a fist with your hand and give it one and ONLY onet punch right down the middle. Then remove dough from bowl and place on a lightly floured surface. Pat the dough into a rectangle about 10 inches wide. You'll be surprised how easy it is to work with the dough... it's like Play-Doh!
- Now for the fun part! Time to shape your hard work into a roll. Cut the dough lengthwise in half. Then cut into thirds and then cut all the pieces in half once more, yielding a total of 12 pieces. Try to make them as equal in mass was possible, but it's ok if they are not perfect... someone will get lucky at the dinner table with a bigger roll ;) Now pick up each pice of dough and fold it onto itself creating a ball and pinching everything together. This part is hard to explain and takes a little bit of practice, but once you get the hang of it, you'll crave doing it! Just make sure the dough is pinched tightly so no air can escape.
- Spray or brush a 9- by 13-Pyrex pan with oil or oil spray (I think canola is the best!). After you shape each roll, arrange them one by one in the pan as in the picture. Cover again with the damp towel and let them rise another half-hour to 45 minutes max. I'm serious! DON'T forget about them or they will get HUGE! Unless you want huge rolls, then do it ;)
- You did it! You are ready to bake the rolls! Preheat your oven to 375° F.
- TO GARLIC THEM: Mix 2 tablespoons melter butter, 3/4 teaspoons granulated garlic, and 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley in a small bowl. Brush the garlic mixture over the tops of the rolls.
- TO PRETZEL: Boil the 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and add the 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda. Stir with whisk or spoon until combined, it will bubble vigorously, which is what you want. Brush on the baking soda mixture in a light layer, trying not to get too much of the mixture to drip in pan or rolls will be slightly soggy (not a huge deal). Just coat the top lightly. Then brush the beaten egg over. Sprinkle with some Maldon (the BEST flaky salt on earth!) or kosher salt. It HAS to be thicker than regular tale salt. Also, make slits on top of rolls with a sharp knife in an X pattern. Not necessary, but makes them look like pretzel rolls.
- FOR PLAIN ROLLS: Beat 1 egg in a small bowl with 1 teaspoon water. Brush the rolls with egg and sprinkle on salt. (You can also skip this step and just leave them as is: I like the egg wash, my hubby like them better without.)
- Bake the rolls in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes. It usually takes mine about 19 minutes, but start checking them after 15, because all ovens are different. You want the tops to be a perfectly even golden brown, like in the pictures.
- Enjoy these beautiful, incredible little fluffy delights that you have created. And get ready, your guests will think you're a professional baker ;)