I love bread.
I love the heavenly aroma, the fluffy texture, and the perfect taste in-between bites of a great meal. But some recipes call for multiple rises lasting several hours, and making bread can quickly become an all-day ordeal, that definitely needs to be planned well in advance.
Several times I have been making dinner and would have loved a bread roll to complete the meal, but had to find something else because of the intense time needed for loaves of bread.
Then I found this recipe from What is on Your Menu This Week for bread rolls that takes just under an hour. I was ecstatic! So including three inactive resting phases, this bread barely takes an hour to make? Yes! I had to make it immediately.
And then I made another batch.
I love bread.
At the core of this bread recipe is the dough-handling technique that yields a beautiful, soft, smooth roll. After the dough reaches the correct consistency, it is pulled, gathered, and pinched, and then rolled gently to a smooth round ball.
Reaching the correct dough consistency can be tricky. I started by adding the flour in small increments of about a third to half of a cup at a time. I made sure that these additions were incorporated completely before adding more flour. So after the mixer had done most of the job, I stopped the paddle or hook, and scraped down the sides and bottom of the bowl so that every bit of loose flour could be incorporated before moving on.
Once I got close to the recommended amount of flour, I began to check the dough’s consistency. This part is very important. If the dough is too sticky or too dry, it will create different textures of buns. I checked the dough by lightly poking or pinching it.
Does the dough completely envelop your fingers, and won’t let go? Keep adding flour.
Does the dough simply indent, and almost repel your finger? There may be too much flour. Add a little water, a teaspoon at a time and try checking again.
Does the dough stick to your finger slightly, and then release? Perfect! This dough is slightly sticky, but it will remain manageable overall.
Next is the technique I used to form the rolls. First, pull off a section of dough. My sections were smaller than a tennis ball, and larger than a golf ball, but you can make your rolls as large or small as you like. Then, using both thumbs, I gently swiped the dough from the top of the ball to the bottom, and continued around the ball. It’s as if I were moving dough from the North Pole to Antarctica, working around the globe in different longitudes, while gathering and pinching everything off at Antarctica. I ended up with a completely smooth surface on top, and a gathered pinch of dough at the bottom of the ball.
Then, on a very lightly floured surface, form a cage with your hand, and trap your roll underneath. Then lightly roll the dough along the surface, making contact with your fingers, and the top pad of your palm. This process smooths out the pinched area of your roll, and ensures that the dough will have a smooth, even top layer.
This is really where your dough’s consistency will play a large role. If your dough is too sticky, it will turn out to be a lumpy roll (or you can just call it “rustic”). Or, if your dough has too much flour, your roll will end up very dense and appear folded or creased together.
Enough of that – Let’s see the recipe!
1 cup of warm water
3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/3 cup oil (I used coconut oil, which will be liquid above 77°F. I just set it above my pilot light to heat it up slightly)
2 Tablespoons yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, slightly beaten
3 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, gently mix the warm water, sugar, oil, and yeast together.
2. Let this mixture stand for about 15 minutes until bubbly. This is also called “proofing” the yeast. It is waking these tiny organisms from their dormancy so they can consume the sugar, exude carbon dioxide, and make our rolls rise.
3. Sir in the salt and beaten egg.
4. Gradually add in flour. I did this in stages of about 1/3 to 1/2 cup at a time. Ensure that all flour has been incorporated before adding more. You want the dough to be slightly sticky, but manageable. See my description above.
5. When desired consistency has been achieved, let the dough rest in the bowl for 10 minutes.
6. Form dough into balls. You can oil your hands first, but I found that it was easier without it. See a detailed description of this technique above.
7. Place evenly apart on baking sheet so they are not touching. I prefer rolls that are completely separated from one another, but you may like them to stick together, and tear them apart. They will expand slightly in the next rise, and again in the oven, so adjust according to your preferences.
8. Let rise for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375°F.
9. Bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly golden brown on top. When tapped, they should have a slightly hollow sound.
I really enjoyed making this recipe, and I hope you do, too! With all the resting time used in this recipe, it allows you time to attend to the rest of your cooking, so it is great to add to your regular dinner routines. It is a very versatile bread recipe that you can tweak to suit your tastes, and it only takes an hour to make!