How to Make Yeast Rolls
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Homemade yeast rolls might not be an everyday treat, but they are very simple to make and require only a little bit of planning to account for rising time. And the reward is tremendous: these feathery, just-sweet-enough rolls are so incredibly delicious that you could serve them with steamed cabbage and your guests would go home raving. For this reason alone, it’s well worth learning how to make yeast rolls like these.
Brushing the tops of the rolls with milk aids browning and gives them a bit of shine. Consider it a “how to make yeast rolls camera-ready” tip.
The recipe detailing how to make yeast rolls is adapted from an old classic: Yankee’s Church Supper Cookbook, published in 1983. The original recipe came from Liese Shewmaker of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Hanover, New Hampshire. I tweaked the amount of liquid and swapped most of the shortening for butter. But I’m sure Liese would recognize them as worthy successors.
How to Make Yeast Rolls
Feather-Light Dinner Rolls
Total Time: About 2 hours, 45 minutes
Hands-on Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 16 rolls
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1 package dry yeast
- 1 cup whole or 2% milk
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon shortening
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- Vegetable oil for the bowl
Put warm water in a small bowl and add yeast. Let sit while you prepare the milk.
Pour the milk into a small pot over high heat. “Scald” the milk by bringing to the point where there are bubbles at the edges of the pot and the milk is just beginning to steam. Remove from heat immediately. Add the butter and shortening, stirring until they melt, then add the sugar and salt.
Pour the milk mixture into a standing mixer and let cool for a few minutes (you can stir it a few times with the paddle attachment to speed up cooling). When warm, but not hot, add the egg and yeast mixture and stir to combine. Add 2 cups of the flour, stirring with the paddle blade, then swap the paddle for the hook attachment and add an additional cup of flour. The dough should come together at this point, but still be quite sticky. Add the remaining half cup of flour, a little at a time, just until the dough begins to adhere to the hook, while still sticking to the very bottom of the bowl. Keep kneading the dough in this way for 3 minutes.
If you don’t have a standing mixer, stir the first 3 cups of flour into the liquid mixture using a stiff wooden spoon, then turn the dough out onto a floured counter. Begin kneading, adding the final 1/2 cup of flour as needed so that the dough is pliable and not too sticky. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic, 7 to 10 minutes.
Remove the dough from the mixing bowl, wipe the bowl clean, then lightly coat with oil. Return the dough to the bowl and turn to coat with oil, then cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel and set in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
When the dough is done rising, punch it down and turn it out onto an unfloured counter. Divide it into 2 equal portions using a knife or bench scraper, then divide each portion into 8 pieces. Now it’s time to shape the rolls. Squeeze each piece of dough in your palm a few times, then cup your hand over it and begin rolling the dough under your palm in a small circle, pressing lightly so that the bottom of the ball sticks to the counter. When finished, you’ll have a perfect sphere with a tight “skin.”
Transfer the rolls to a lightly greased baking sheet (alternately, line your sheet with a silicone baking mat or some parchment paper). Cover the sheet with plastic wrap and let the rolls rise in a warm spot until nearly doubled in size and springy when lightly poked, 45 to 60 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 375°F and set a rack to the middle position. Bake the rolls on the center rack until golden brown and fragrant, 12 to 15 minutes (turn the pan midway through cooking). Serve warm, with salted butter. If making ahead, reheat the rolls on a baking sheet in a 200°F oven for 10 minutes before serving.
Do you have any advice for how to make yeast rolls? Let us know!
This post was first published in 2017 and has been updated.
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