I have to admit, I have mixed feelings about Thanksgiving. Sure, it's the ultimate food holiday. But it's also kind of a pain. So many dishes to make, and trying to coordinate things so that you can actually manage to cook it all in one kitchen and have it done at the same time. Then there's the fact that turkey isn't my favorite. I'd be happy just having all the other dishes--mashed potatoes with gravy, stuffing, vegetables, cranberry sauce... Yum. Then there's bread. Do you really need bread with everything else that's going on? It does come in handy for mopping up the extra gravy. And I do like to bake bread and rolls...
That's why I'm bring you these rolls, even though we have some time before Thanksgiving. My friend Phyl, who talked us all into making pumpkin recipes last month, came up with the idea of having a Thanksgiving round-up this month. That way we can all try out some recipes well before the holiday gets here, and also get new ideas from each other. As the host, he's got the turkey taken care of, and a bunch of us are bringing the rest of the dishes. Now if only we lived close enough together that Phyl could share his actual Thanksgiving turkey with us, so I wouldn't have to make one. =)
These rolls are pretty straightforward to make, especially if you're comfortable working with yeast doughs. First, you put the milk, sweetener (I used golden syrup since I prefer it over honey), butter and shortening in a large liquid measuring cup. You microwave the mixture on high for about 90 seconds, until the milk is warm and the fats are beginning to melt. They'll melt the rest of the way as you stir the mixture to combine everything. Then you put most of the flour (4 1/2 cups, or about 630 grams), yeast and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and stir them to combine. You add the liquid to the flour and stir to combine, then mix in the egg. I usually use my dough whisk to get everything roughly combined, then use my mixer with the dough hook to knead the dough. You add half a cup (70 grams) of additional flour to the mixer as the dough is kneaded, then add up to half a cup more if necessary to get a dough that clears the sides of the bowl and is tacky but not really sticky. Once the dough is the right consistency (which takes 5-6 minutes), you hand-knead it for a minute or so to form a smooth ball. The dough is soft, but really nice to work with.
The dough goes into a greased bowl (covered with plastic wrap) or rising bucket (with lid) to proof for about an hour, or until it's doubled in size. Then it's formed into 15 rolls. I did the math, and found that my dough balls needed to be about 90 grams (around 3 ounces) to get 15 equal pieces of dough. The balls are formed into tight rounds and placed in a greased 13" by 9" pan. (I used a Pyrex pan.) The pan is covered with plastic wrap and the shaped rolls are allowed to rise for another 45-60 minutes. Then they're baked at 375ºF for 25 to 35 minutes, or until the internal temperature is about 190ºF. The original recipe calls for an egg wash on the dough before baking, but I skipped that. I did brush the rolls with melted butter when they came out of the oven.
The verdict? Oh, these definitely deserve a place on the Thanksgiving table! The texture is soft and rich, and the fluffy crumb makes a nice contrast with the browned exterior. They're delicious served warm from the oven, with some butter. You can also make the rolls ahead, let them cool, then wrap them up and store briefly at room temperature or longer in the freezer. The rolls can then be wrapped in foil and reheated in the oven before serving.
If you'd like to try these rolls for yourself, there are several places you can find the original recipe. For subscribers to the Cook's Country website, it's here. For those with back issues of the magazine, it was published in Dec/Jan 2007. You can also find this roll recipe in the current newsstand special issue America's Test Kitchen All-Time Best Holiday Recipes.
Ingredients for Fluffy (Make-Ahead) Dinner Rolls
(adapted from Cook's Country)
350 grams (1 1/2 cups) whole milk
105 grams (1/3 cup) golden syrup or honey
70 grams (5 tablespoons) unsalted butter
50 grams (1/4 cup) shortening (I use Spectrum Organic)
700 - 770 grams (5 - 5 1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
9 grams (1 tablespoon) instant yeast
13 grams (2 teaspoons) table salt
1 large egg