Published September 1, 2006.
Why bother making dinner rolls unless they are really rich, really soft, and really good?
Quickie recipes produce rolls that aren't much better than the rolls you buy at the supermarket because they don't allow enough time for the dough to develop much flavor. But homemade rolls—made right—are often too bothersome for an overextended chef.
We wanted to develop a largely make-ahead recipe that would deliver rich, soft, tender, airy, semisweet, pull-apart all-American dinner rolls.
First we needed to optimize flavor and texture by getting the ingredients just right. A liberal amount of butter contributed richness; an additional egg gave the rolls more flavor and better texture; and milk (scalded and skimmed) made the rolls soft, tender, and rich (additional sugar and salt also helped the flavor). For ideas about the best technique, we turned to the queen mother of rich breads: brioche. Traditionally, brioche undergoes several rises, one of which is a slow, cool rise in the fridge that allows the yeast to work its magic slowly so flavors have time to develop. The same magic worked on our rolls. For optimal control we put the rolls into the refrigerator straight away after their first rise and allowed the chilled rolls to complete a second, slow rise on the counter the next day. This technique also had the advantage of allowing the bulk of the work to be completed a day in advance (even two days).list of recipes