My mom makes amazing rolls. It’s actually my grandmother’s recipe and they’re famous in our family. Any time we get together, those rolls are always requested. They’re buttery, fluffy, and a necessity at any of our Thanksgiving get-togethers.
Unfortunately, the recipe I’m sharing is not her recipe. No, I’m afraid that recipe belongs to the rest of my family, so it’s not mine to share. I just wanted you all to know you’re missing out. Aren’t I the best?
This recipe, like most of “my” recipes, is a hybrid of several I’ve come across, including my mom’s. The dough only has 4 ingredients and is what’s called a wet dough. I first learned about wet doughs in my baking class in college. You know those artisan loaves of bread made by the bakery in your grocery store? They can be round; long (like the baguette, for example); small; and have the signature hard, crackly crust. They use a special oven that introduces steam throughout the cooking process. It sounds counterintuitive, but the steam actually dries out the crust faster and gives it that wonderful crust.
Well, if you’re like me (and the vast majority of people on this planet), you don’t have an oven like that. Enter, the wet dough. When coupled with a pan of water in your oven, you can achieve the same effect with a surprisingly small amount of effort. I actually found a great book that talks all about wet doughs. The recipe I’m gonna share isn’t quite the same as theirs, but they’re pretty similar. That book also shares a lot of other recipes as well, so it’s worth checking out.
This will make 12 rolls, so scale as needed. Here’s what you need:
• 5 cups room temperature water
• 3 tbsp active dry yeast
• 2 1/2 tbsp salt
• 10 3/4 cups all purpose flour
Mix the water, yeast, and flour together in a bowl. Sprinkle the salt in as the dough mixes. You don’t have to knead this dough until it’s smooth. Just mix it until everything is incorporated and there aren’t any dry clumps of flour. Put the dough in a bowl, loosely cover with plastic wrap, and set in a warm place for 2 hours (basically just keep it away from drafty windows and stuff).
For the next part, you’ll need a couple more ingredients:
• 3 tbsp butter (I usually use unsalted but for this, I prefer salted)
• 1 tsp dried, crushed herbs
After the dough has rested for 2 hours, then you can start forming the dough and putting it in a pan. Melt 1.5 tablespoons of butter in your baking pan and move it around so the bottom and sides have some on them (to prevent sticking). That’s if you’re using two smaller pans, like I did. I baked 6 rolls in each. If you’re using one large pan and will cook all the rolls together, then melt 3 tablespoons of butter.
Sprinkle a little flour onto your counter and form the dough into a ball. You do this by pulling the dough from the front and tucking it in the bottom, like so:
But the dough into 12 equal pieces and repeat the process with each individual piece. As you form each roll, set them into the pan on top of the butter and space them out a bit.
Using a sharp knife or kitchen shears, cut a slit in the top of the roll. Take a pastry brush and brush some of the butter in the bottom of your pan across the tops of the rolls. Doesn’t need to be a lot, just a bit. Then, sprinkle on your dried crushed herbs.
Cover the pan(s) loosely with plastic wrap and set in a warm place, again. While those are proofing (rising) again, turn your oven to 450 and set a broiler-safe pan on the bottom rack. Don’t use glass. Something metal. After about 30 minutes of resting and heating the oven, take the plastic wrap off the rolls and put them in the oven on the center rack. Pour a glass of water into the pan that’s been heating in the oven and close the door immediately. This creates steam and helps develop a good crust. The reason we use a metal pan is a glass pan could shatter upon adding the water. Not likely, but still possible, so we just avoid the possibility altogether.
Bake the rolls for about 25 minutes. Voila.
So there it is. Buttery, crusty rolls. It only takes about 10 minutes of active work, and they make very little mess. Heaven knows we could all use less mess in the kitchen on Thanksgiving.
Does your family have any special recipes? Or maybe you have something you’ve created that is now a “family thing”? I’d love to hear about it. My issues with the turkey this week set me back a day, so I’ll only be sharing 9 recipes as opposed to 10, but tomorrow’s will make up for the 1 missing. A fluffy pumpkin cheesecake. Super delicious. See ya then.
Links to all the posts in this series:
• Savory Cornbread Stuffing
• Scratch-Made Asparagus Casserole (my version of green bean casserole)
• Country-Style Herbed Mashed Potatoes
• Dijon Country Gravy Made with Turkey Drippings
• Homemade Cranberry Sauce Worth Serving
• Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Maple and Bacon Vinaigrette
• How to Roast the Perfect Turkey
• Buttery and Crusty Herb-Topped Dinner Rolls
• Light and Airy Pumpkin-Ricotta Cheesecake
• How to Make an Entire Thanksgiving Meal In One Oven