These old school dinner rolls were perfected more than a century ago
This recipe is by Vallery Lomas, author of Life Is What You Bake It and winner of the Great American Baking Show, season 3.
About the recipe
My Great-Great Aunt Hester perfected these dinner rolls over a century ago. I’ve updated them using modern appliances so that anyone can make them with ease.
These rolls are fluffy and buttery with a hint of sweetness. They bake up next to one another on the pan, and pulling a warm roll off to enjoy straight from the oven is super satisfying.
2 cups warm water
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 6 tablespoons unsalted or salted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4-ounce packages instant yeast
7 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra as needed
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Oil, for the bowl
Flaky sea salt for sprinkling (optional)
Add the liquids to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook: the warm water, eggs, and 4 tablespoons melted butter.
Then add the dry ingredients: the sugar, yeast, 7 cups flour, and 1 tablespoon salt. Knead on low speed until all the ingredients come together, about 2 minutes.
Increase the speed to medium and continue to knead until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl, 8 to 10 minutes. (It won’t form a ball around the hook, and that’s OK.)
Lightly oil the largest bowl in your kitchen, and transfer the dough to it. The dough will be very sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel and let rise until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.
Melt the remaining 6 tablespoons butter and set aside to allow the butter to cool slightly, but remain melted. (If you’ve got salted butter, this is a great time to use it.) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Use your hands to deflate the risen dough (what we call “punching it down”) — really get in there so that no air pockets remain. Tip the dough out onto a floured work surface and roll it to a rectangle 18 by 12 inches — it should be about a half-inch thick. Use a 2 1/2-inch round cutter to stamp out the dough as close together as possible (to minimize the dough scraps). Lightly gather those scraps and pat into a half-inch-thick sheet. Stamp out more dough circles until no dough remains. You may need a second baking sheet.
This next step requires a little technique: Lightly dip both sides of each round in the room-temperature melted butter. You want a thin coat, not a total dunk. (To do this, my mom would melt the butter in a small saucepan and tilt the pan so the butter went to one side, then she’d dip the circle on the other side where there was just a coating of buttery residue.)
After being dipped in butter, transfer the circle to the prepared baking sheet. Continue to dip and transfer, lining up the rolls on the baking sheet so they just touch. Be sure to use a light hand — the dough does not like to be handled.
Let the dough rise again, until the rolls are puffed up and springy to the touch, 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the temperature in your kitchen.
Preheat the oven to 400°F and place a rack in the center of the oven. Bake the rolls until the tops are golden brown, about 10 to 14 minutes. Remove the rolls from the oven and brush with melted butter. If you used unsalted butter for finishing, sprinkle the tops lightly with a few pinches of flaky salt; if you used salted butter, skip the additional salt. Serve.
These rolls are meltingly delicious straight from the oven, but you can store them by wrapping the room-temperature rolls tightly in foil and freezing them. To reheat frozen rolls, bake in the oven, foil and all, at 400°F until hot. In fact, these freeze so well that my mom has started making the rolls for thanksgiving a week in advance! It’s one less day-of thing to do on her holiday baking checklist.