Saturday Special: Homemade Rolls

Of all our family favorites, this one tops the list. My son would probably just eat them for dinner if he could. I discovered this recipe when my husband and I first got married. It came along with our brand new bread machine. That machine didn't last too long, but the recipe was a keeper. Bread machines may not be the rage nowadays, but this is the one recipe that I make with it. Fortunately, our second machine has been doing well (it's older than Janna!) and hopefully will stay that way! Otherwise, we may all be very sad without it. There are 2 things that have consistently helped me to achieve good results. One is using bread flour instead of all-purpose flour. It results in a lighter roll, more fluffy. The second thing is using bread machine yeast. I tried using the yeast that comes in a strip, but the rolls seemed to be a little denser and tougher. It is a bit pricey, but it is worth it. It makes many batches of rolls, so I have just counted the cost. I store the yeast in the refrigerator and it lasts us a long time. It looks like this:

I usually like to start my rolls after lunch sometime. It takes about 5-10 minutes to assemble the ingredients, 1.5 hours in the machine, another 5-10 minutes to shape (it does get faster with experience, so allow yourself about 15 minutes when you're first starting out), 30-45 minutes to rise, and 12 minutes to bake. If you do the math, that's about 3 hours or so. I use this as a guideline to decide when to start. Figure out when you want dinner and work backwards.

The recipe is very simple. Just make sure you follow your bread machine's instructions regarding the order of ingredients. Mine requires wet ingredients first, then dry. The original directions do not encourage using the timer feature, probably because of the egg. (But I'll tell you a secret: There have been times when I couldn't be there to make the rolls, so I have used it. So, use at your own discretion.) Here's how you do it:

1. Prepare ingredients in bread pan: 1 cup water 2 Tbsp. butter/margarine 1 egg 3 1/4 cups bread machine flour 1/4 cup sugar 1 tsp. salt 3 tsp. bread machine yeast

This is what mine looks like when I'm done. If I am using the timer, I usually dig a little hole in the flour (not too deep) and put the yeast in there so it does not come in contact with any liquids. Once it does, it activates it, which you don't want to do too early.

Place the pan into the machine and set it on "dough" mode. Our machine takes about 1 1/2 hours to do this step. This will result guessed it, dough! I've never tried baking it, but maybe that will be an experiment for another day...

2. Shape rolls

Before getting the dough out of the pan, I like to lightly grease a baking sheet and melt 2 Tbsp. of butter.

Lightly flour a cutting board and sprinkle a little on top of the dough before taking it out of the pan. Turn dough out onto cutting board and lightly coat with the flour that's on the board. Don't use too much or else it is too tough. Using a pair of kitchen scissors (this makes this job so much easier. When I first made them, I tried to partition them by hand...too much work!) cut the dough into 16 pieces. Just cut it in half, then each half in half, etc. until you have 16 pieces. Place the dough balls onto the greased baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, brush some of the melted butter on top of the dough. (Don't dump out the extra yet! You'll be putting a second coat of melted butter on after the baking is done.) This is what mine looked like at this point:

3. Rising time: 30-45 minutes (sometimes an hour in the winter) When you're done, cover the dough (to keep it from drying out) with a clean kitchen towel. Place the rolls in a warm place to rise. If it's cold, sometimes I preheat my oven to give it a little heat, but there are other methods. Some people place their rolls in the oven with a pan of hot water. In the summer, it doesn't take a long time! This is what they look like after rising:

4. Bake! Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Brush melted butter over baked rolls.

Ta-da! There you have it...homemade rolls. They are great with soups, Italian meals, or we've even used leftovers as sandwich buns. They're slightly sweet, fluffy and as you can see, they are a hit with us! Hope you'll enjoy them with your family. Let me know how they turn out!

If you want a copy of the recipe, here's a pdf: bread_machine_rolls .