Fluffy & Light: That's How We Yeast Roll

Huh? What do you mean I still haven't blogged about those rolls? I should have done this long ago. This simple yeast roll recipe I think is probably my most popular bread recipe. I make them a crazy lot. I share them a crazy lot. I get requests for the recipe a crazy lot. I am asked when am I going to make more...yep, you guessed it... a crazy lot! Just letting ya know before you bite off into this one! The chilling temps are falling below the zero mark this week. You are most likely going to be wintered in, and catching up on those heaps of laundry is the last thing you want to do. You know you are going to be hungry most of the time merely because running to Mickey D's is not going to be an option. So why don't you just throw on a big pot of chili or soup, or chowder...or bisque while this dough is rising. Oh my word, you are going to L O V E these rolls. But beware, don't even go here unless you are prepared for this little kitchen action becoming a weekly requirement by all who indulge in your kitchen glory. Now, just for the record, these rolls hold no real secret ingredient, but I do think I have discovered (at least in my own kitchen) a roll making technique that totally aids in their rise and fluffiness. These rolls really are that addicting so don't say I didn't warn you!  Oh, and the butter I drench over the top of them,...yeah, that is laced with honey. Yes, it is. Just say'n. *wink

So, to start the yeast roll craze in your kitchen...

YOU'RE GOING TO NEED:
5-7 c. bread flour
2 c. whole milk (scalded)
 ½ c. warm water
½ C. sugar
4 tsp. yeast
2 eggs at room temperature
3 Tbls. unsalted butter (Not that weird oily stuff they call margarine! That mess will kill ya!)
2 tsp. salt

 HERE'S HOW:
Grab the eggs from fridge and set out so they will warm to room temperature.

Scald the 2 cups of milk. Pour the sugar into the hot milk and set aside to cool to room temperature.

Melt the 3 tablespoons of butter and set it aside to cool to room temperature.

Warm ½ cups water to about 90° or so. (temps over 110° will kill yeast) Once the water is warm, pour into it the 4 tablespoons yeast. Set aside for about 5 minutes or so while the yeast becomes active.

Once the sugary milk has cooled to room temperature and the yeast is fluffing up in the water, in a glass mixing bowl gently combine the sugary milk and the yeasty water in a medium size bowl. (I use my largest measuring cup bowl from The Pampered Chef that I happen to love!) Then add enough flour to the mixture to form a thick slurry. Almost as thick as pancake batter, but not quite. Making sure there is enough room in your bowl for the mixture to double in size, set aside for about 30 minutes or so, or until the slurry is really fluffy and bubbly.
*NOTE: we all know that yeast is affected in different ways by different environments, temperatures, and humidity levels. So if your slurry behaves differently one day vs. another, don't be surprised. Yeast is a living organism, and like all of us, is subject to change behavior. All you mainly need it to do is get really bubbly at this slurry stage. If it grows really tall and frothy, YAY! Your yeast is having a great day! If it doesn't, well...life happens... don't sweat it, your rolls will be fine.

Once the slurry has set long enough to bubble and froth and become not very slurrylike, carefully stir down the froth and move it to your stand mixer bowl with the mixer paddle attached.

To your slurry, add the salt, cooled melted butter, and the eggs, one at a time, mixing lightly between each.

After these additions are incorporated all you should have left to ad is the rest of the flour. With the mixer speed set on low, add more flour in small increments. I use a small wooden spoon to add my final flour. It holds about two tablespoons at a time. I use this so I don't plop in too much flour at a time.

Slowly incorporate your additional flour (knowing you may not need all the remaining flour)with a slow paddle speed. The dough should start pulling away from the sides of the bowl as it mixes. Once dough becomes globby and is not falling from the paddle enough to incorporate anymore, stop the mixer, change the paddle attachment to the kneading attachment. The dough should fall off the paddle fairly easily.

Continue to add flour in small increments even after the attachment change until the flour is kneaded to the point that the dough becomes less sticky and more pliable. It should not feel wet, but barely damp when touched. You will also notice how it begins to crawl up the kneading hook a bit, then folds back over itself. The dough is ready at this point to start the actual kneading process. I know, that sounds so professional and dough techie...but trust me, it isn't.
At this point turn the mixer off and WALK AWAY for about 5 minutes while the dough just sits there in your mixer bowl wondering where the heck you went. Upon your return, continue to knead dough for about 5 or 6 minutes. Push an indention into the dough. Does it push in easily, yet bounces back quickly, and looks a bit like the blob from "Ghost Busters"? Good, it's ready to rise.

Take the dough off the hook and out of the mixer bowl.  Place into a well oiled, very large, glass/ceramic bowl. I turn the dough a few times in the bowl so to coat the entire dough ball with oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a light weight towel.  Set in a draft free location to rise to at least double bulk.








It depends on how warm your environment is as to how long it takes for the dough to rise. In summer, not long at all, but in winter time it may take up to a couple hours.

Once dough has risen in the bowl, uncover and punch it down using your fist right through the middle of it. I don't condone violence, so don't hit like a girl in this instance. Just a little soft punch in the face should be plenty to get it out of the bowl. The more bubbles that can remain the better. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured board, and again, WALK AWAY again for about 10 minutes. Don't cheat here! Be patient. Your dough needs time to recover from that punch in the face it just suffered.

After the wait, roll dough to be about ½" thick or so. I go for a rectangular shape but for some reason today it went a bit round. Oh well.  But notice the airiness in my rounded rectangle? Oooooo.... you definitely want to keep those air pockets.

WALK AWAY for another 5 minutes or so! I know, it's getting ridiculous, right?  All I know is, every time I am patient enough to give my dough it's time outs, my rolls bake up lighter and fluffier in the end.

While your dough is waiting to be cut into rolls, you can grab your baking sheets and either spray/flour or cover with parchment. It usually takes my two large baking sheets for all this dough. Once pans are prepared and dough has rested again, begin gently cutting rolls to desired size keeping in mind that each should double in size during the last rise, as well a bit more during the bake. I usually cut mine about 2"X2". Carefully place each roll on baking sheet about 2" apart. Set rolls in a draft free location and cover with a soft, light towel to rise.

 Again, the rise depends on the time of year, so plan accordingly. Once dough has double in size, preheat oven to 375°. Bake on middle rack of oven for about 10-13 minutes, or until tops are golden brown. While the first batch is baking, grab some extra butter from your fridge (about 1/3rd stick), toss it in a small bowl, and pour a tad (about a teaspoon) of honey over it (not necessary, but oh so fab!). Melt these together. When rolls are done and still hot from the oven, drown them, no, I'm sorry... baste each fluffy and light hot bun in this crazy sweet melted butter.

At this point your kitchen is smelling like the Bunny Bread Bakery, and people are coming from miles around to investigate who is the one baking up such scrumptiously yeasty buttered bread aromas. Maybe this is why this recipe makes so many rolls. Because sharing is the best thing a good baker can do.  But don't let all your rolls get smuggled out the door, keep one for yourself.  We both know that you deserve it.

Flip more dirt & flours, Y'all!

~Pj
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