Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Every year, I like to contribute something different for Thanksgiving dinner -- I'm trying to slowly feel out what recipes I'll want to use when I have my own Thanksgiving dinner someday, when it's my turn to cook the whole meal. Last year, I made the pumpkin pie. The year before, I made an awesome green bean casserole (from scratch, which makes all the difference in the world -- no canned soup here!). And this year, well, I was running out of options, 'cause certain things are sacred in my mom's Thanksgiving dinner.
Well, strike that -- almost EVERYTHING is sacred. And to some extent, I don't blame them, 'cause Thanksgiving is partly about tradition, about time-honored recipes you pull out every year. So the turkey was settled (though I actually did get my hands on that one year, discovering that brining wasn't really worth the effort), and so was the stuffing, the carrots, potatoes, cranberry sauce (always from a can, though I've been itching to try making that some year), even the pumpkin pies (though I contributed an apple pie, largely because my boyfriend likes it way better than pumpkin).
What wasn't already carved-in-stone tradition, not to be tinkered with? The dinner rolls. Every year, they're the typical store-bought brown-and-serve variety. They're not BAD, per se. They're alright. But they're not particularly good, either, so I figured, why not try making my own?
I attacked these with some trepidation, 'cause it seems like bread doughs never want to rise for me quite as quickly as they should, and then I get impatient with them. On top of that, the recipe for these swore that you could freeze them and then bake them from frozen with no ill effects. And y'know, it was right. I popped these in the oven at Mom's, and a little while later, we had fully cooked, golden brown rolls, slightly flaky around the edges and a bit yeasty in the middle, maybe not the greatest bread product known to man, but perfectly good rolls, good enough to earn compliments from everyone at the table. I might even make these again for Christmas dinner, though I can be a bit of a magpie-ish baker, so my attention might move on to trying something else by then (and hey, cookie season's nearly upon us! And there's gingerbread, and cakes, and candies, and, and...).
From "The Best Make-Ahead Recipe"
4 1/4 c flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 envelope rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 c whole milk, warmed to 110 degrees
12 tbsp butter, melted, plus a little extra for brushing on before baking
2 egg yolks
1. Whisk together 4 cups of the flour with the sugar, yeast and salt.
2. In another bowl, whisk together the milk and butter, then the egg. Combine with the dry ingredients and mix until a dough comes together.
3. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding the remaining 1/4 cup of flour if it's too sticky. (The mixing and kneading can be done in a stand mixer, if you've got one, but I don't, so I did it all by hand.)
4. Form a smooth, round ball, place in a large, oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about an hour.
5. Divide the dough into 24 even pieces, form into smooth, tight balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until double, about an hour.
6. At this point, you can pop the tray into the freezer, freeze the rolls until firm and transfer them into a zip-top bag for storage.
7. To bake, arrange the rolls on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet and brush with melted butter. Bake at 375 degrees until golden, 15 to 25 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.