I have a confession to make. I love bread. I LOVE it. When I did that South Beach Diet a few years ago and bread was completely out of the question, I thought I might die. I guess that is when I figured out South Beach was not really sustainable in my world. Nope. In my world there is a lot of fresh baked bread, preferably slathered in lovely salty butter.
I guess I’ll have to hit the gym a little longer to make sure that in my world I can still get my britches buttoned. But if that’s what it takes to chow down on bread, then so be it. And these little dinner rolls that I’m about to talk about, well they are definitely worth undertaking a few extra revs in the gym. Moist, tender and slightly sweet, they are my go-to roll for all dinners. I probably should have let you know about these before Thanksgiving, but hey – Christmas and New Year’s are right around the corner!
You may wonder why I call them West Virginia Rolls. Well, I originally came across this recipe when I was looking for Pepperoni Roll recipe. The husband and I love to visit West Virginia every chance we get. Especially the town of Fayetteville, which I’ve told you all about in previous blogs. Pepperoni Rolls, soft white yeast roll which are stuffed with pepperoni, cheese and possibly some peppers, are like the State food of West Virginia. You can find them everywhere from bakeries to gas stations. I wanted to recreate them at home and found an absolutely to die for recipe on Martha Miller’s blog. Her recipe yielded up some truly Heavenly Pepperoni Rolls. The bread called for in that recipe, which was from Martha’s grandmother Yie’s dinner roll recipe, is the same bread used in these rolls. I called them Yie’s Rolls for a while, but everyone around here thought I was saying “yeast rolls” and they were wondering which yeast rolls I meant. Now, when I say West Virginia Rolls, everyone knows exactly what I mean and starts drooling immediately!
I used to be intimidated by any recipe that had yeast in it. I was sure it was just too difficult to pull off. Now I know that baking with yeast is not really difficult at all, though it can be a bit persnickity, so it helps if you have a few tools on hand. You definitely need a good thermometer which will give you a fast read. And the type of yeast you use is important. Personally I love the SAF Instant Yeast I keep a canister of it in the freezer at all times. And a dough rising bucket is also nice to have. You could probably get by without these tools, but having them makes things go much more smoothly. So now you’re ready to make some lovely yeast dinner rolls. These flavourful little gems are easy to make, though I will admit they are a bit time-consuming with two separate rise times, so make sure you have plenty of time set aside for them on baking day. Now don’t get discouraged. I know you’re thinking “there is no way I have time for all that nonsense especially around the holidays.” But here is a great secret I am happy to pass along to you. Sometime prior to the big dinner you have planned, when you have some free time on your hands (yeah right, huh?) you can make a bunch of these rolls up and par-bake them. So that means you just bake them for 7 minutes, take them out of the oven to cool and then freeze them in heavy ziplock freezer bags. (They will keep in the freezer for several months.) Then, when the day of the big dinner arrives, you simply take them out of the freezer and pop them frozen right onto the baking tray and bake at 375° F for about 8 -10 minutes. And voila! Lovely dinner rolls, fresh from the oven, melt in your mouth, golden brown and irresistible. You will be amazed how quickly these little devils disappear from your table!
Heavenly West Virginia Dinner Rolls
recipe from: Martha J Miller
Note: This recipe makes a lot of rolls! My stand mixer is not even big enough to handle the full recipe. I usually make 1/2 of the recipe which yields about 18 -20 rolls.
For the bread:
- 2 cups milk
- 2/3 cup oil (canola or vegetable)
- 4 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 packages instant yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons – a yeast packet contains 2 1/4 tsp. yeast)
- 1 cup warm water (about 110°F)
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 9-10 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
In a small saucepan, heat the milk over low heat until just before it comes to a boil (heat to about 190 – 195° F). Do not let the milk boil. In a small bowl, combine the warm milk, oil, salt and 3/4 cup sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves and let the mixture cool to lukewarm (98°F).
Meanwhile, in the bowl of stand mixer combine the two packages of yeast, sugar and warm cup of water. Stir gently with a fork to break up any clumps and let stand 5 minutes or until mixture becomes bubbly. Pour the lukewarm milk mixture into the yeast mixture and stir to combine. Add the eggs one at a time and beat to combine.
On low speed, begin to slowly add the flour, one cup at a time until a loose dough forms. There is no precise measurement for the flour as it will vary depending on your individual environment’s humidity, elevation, etc. but it will be somewhere between 9 to 10 cups. The finished dough will pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl, be slightly sticky and slack, but still hold together well.
Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and knead, incorporating more flour to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands and the counter top. Knead by hand for 6 to 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Or you can just switch to your dough hook and let the mixer knead it for about 6 – 8 minutes. To test if the dough is ready, gently poke your finger into the dough and if the indentation remains but slowly comes back, you have kneaded long enough. Place dough in a rising bucket or if you don’t have one, a large lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Place in a warm draft-free place and let rise until dough doubles, about 2 hours.
After the first rise, gently remove the dough and knead lightly 2 or 3 times on a floured surface to remove any large air pockets. Next, divide the dough into 2 ounce pieces preferably using a kitchen scale. If you do not own a kitchen scale the dough should divide out into roughly 3 dozen small pieces and once shaped, be about 1-1.5 inches in diameter.
Shape dough pieces into rolls by pinching two opposite sides of the dough and then pinching together the other two sides to form a ball.
Place shaped rolls on greased sheet pans with enough room for them to rise without touching and lightly cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, approximately 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly beat one large egg with a splash of water and paint egg wash gently over each roll. Bake rolls for 12-20 minutes until golden brown. Cool finished rolls on a rack and re-warm before serving.
To par-bake the rolls simply remove the partially cooked rolls after 7 minutes, let cool, and freeze in heavy duty plastic bags. To finish, place frozen rolls on a greased sheet pan and cook at 375°F for 8-10 minutes. Frozen par-baked rolls will keep in your freezer for several months.
Heavenly West Virginia Dinner Rolls brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)