A sure-fire way to impress your guests is to bake fresh rolls. When friends walk in the house, they smell this yeasty deliciousness and they just can’t wait to tear into those soft little pillows of dough.
Yeast doughs are intimidating to many home bakers. But, they need not be. Yeast isn’t as temperamental as people believe. Maybe the mystery is that yeast works on its own schedule and is sensitive to temperature, so your dough may rise faster or slower depending on the temperature in your kitchen. The great thing is, it doesn’t actually matter that much. Your dough will rise eventually, given the temperature in your average kitchen. If it’s warm today, it will rise a bit faster. If it’s chilly, like it is in my house all winter, it will rise more slowly. Sometimes you need a little more patience, but ultimately, your patience will be rewarded.
I made these rolls for my Thanksgiving dinner. They are very cute and quite tasty. They get great flavor from buttermilk and a bit of whole wheat. They are soft and fluffy because they are largely white flour. And, they are just so cute!
The recipe is adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites. The original has instructions for making them by hand, but I’m all for letting my KitchenAid mixer handle the heavy work of kneading.
Besides the heavy-duty mixer, a scale is useful for getting rolls that are all the same size, but you can eyeball the size and they will turn out fine.
Buttermilk Dinner Rolls
(makes about 21)
Butter, for greasing pan, or use cooking spray
1 Tbsp Active Dry Yeast, fast-rise, rapid-rise or regular
1⁄4 cup Warm Water, warm enough for bathwater, but not hot (105° is perfect)
1 1⁄2 tsp Sugar
2 cups Buttermilk, nonfat, lowfat or regular
3 Tbsp Butter, or vegetable oil
1 1⁄2 tsp Salt
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 1⁄2 tsp Baking Soda, sifted if lumpy
3 to 3 1⁄2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 Tbsp Melted Butter
Grease the cups in 2 12 cup muffin tins. Set aside.
In the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, combine yeast, warm water, and sugar and set aside for 5 minutes until mixture starts to bubble. This means your yeast is alive and ready to go. Though not essential, I do think it speeds up the rise somewhat because your yeast has already started to multiply.
Melt butter in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and add buttermilk and salt. Check the temperature. If it still feels cold, heat gently until it feels like warm bathwater, but not hot. Hot will kill your yeast. Add buttermilk to yeast mixture in bowl.
Add whole wheat flour, baking soda, and 3 cups of white flour to the mixing bowl. Mix with the mixing blade until well combined. The dough will still be sticky, so add flour (about another 1⁄2 cup) until it starts to form a ball. Switch to the dough hook. Knead for 5 minutes. The dough should be in a nice ball and shouldn’t stick to the sides of the bowl. If it’s still sticky, sprinkle in a tablespoon or two of flour and knead another minute. It’s not bad if the dough is sticky, but it is harder to work with.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rise for 30 minutes. Punch the dough down and turn out onto a board. Cut dough into 1 oz pieces, which is a ball about the size of a ping-pong ball or a large walnut. Roll each piece into a ball. This is easier if you don’t flour your board but if your dough is sticky, flour your hands to keep the dough from sticking.
Place 2 balls, side by side, in each muffin cup. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and set aside to rise for 45 minutes to an hour. If your kitchen is a cool room temperature, it will take longer. The rolls should be about doubled in size. Remove wrap and brush tops with melted butter.
Preheat oven to 350°. Bake rolls for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Great straight from the oven with a nice slather of butter, but still really good rewarmed.
Link to PDF of Buttermilk Rolls recipe