Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Homemade Dinner Rolls - Take #2

Homemade Dinner Rolls

I have made yeast breads for years and years, but I had never made rolls. And all of a sudden I had an urge to make them. Like right now. Maybe because Thanksgiving is racing toward us? I wanted to master homemade rolls. I found the recipe for The Best Homemade Dinner Rolls Ever! online. She said she worked for years to perfect her recipe. Sounded like a good recipe to start with.

So last week while I was Mommy's house, we mixed up these rolls. (Take #1) They were not what I was hoping for. Not bad, but I knew I could do better. I needed to add a considerable amount of extra flour to get the dough to pull away from the bowl at all. And that much extra flour made for a dry roll, although they were beautiful. I also knew this would be easier in my own kitchen. I know how my oven works. (Mine browns faster in the front.) Mommy's oven bakes with gas which is a little different.

THEN I remembered Jessica having similar trouble with the cinnamon rolls we like so much. We finally figured out it was the flour that we were using. Where we live, the common flour brands are White Lily and Martha White. Southern flours perfect for making biscuits. But for yeast rolls, King Arthur (which is now readily available in our stores) is infinitely better. It has to do with the protein content of the different flours. If you live up north, I'm sure there are other brands that work, but I only know about King Arthur.

When I was in college (home economics major here) I remember a professor saying that cooking was all chemistry and physics. I think the chemistry and physics of the different flours do make the difference here. I don't know where the creator of the original recipe lives, but I'm guessing it's not where White Lily flour dominates the store shelves.

You should take the time to look at her recipe and watch her video if you are new to yeast dough and read all of the questions & answers about the recipe. She has great tips there.

She makes 24 rolls. I cut the amount in half here. If you have never made breads before, it's easier to work with a smaller amount. And if you don't need two dozen rolls, make this smaller batch. The hands-on time is not that huge, but I allowed a morning for the entire process. (Takes about 3-1/2 hours, beginning to end.) Daddy-O got hot rolls for lunch!

Here are a few photos I made along the way that might be helpful:

Top left:  The dough should be sticky to the touch after adding the last of the flour.
Top right:  Dough put into large greased bowl.
Bottom left:  Dough after rising 90 minutes.
Bottom right:  Push into the dough and when it's ready, it will leave a dent and not spring back.

Top left:  Shape dough into an even circle and cut into quarters.
Top right:  Divide each quarter of dough into even thirds.
Bottom left:  Pull edges of dough to the bottom, leaving the top smooth.
Bottom right:  Pinch edges together and place in pan, smooth side up.

Shaped and on the pan
Second rising, ready to bake

These are tremendously better than my first attempt...which weren't bad. These were wonderful. I give credit to the improvement to changing flours. Yes, it matters that much. I could feel the difference in the dough. And next time, I'm switching to a dark baking sheet so that the bottoms cook more. Then I think I'll have it!


If you've ever wanted to make yeast rolls, just do it. This is the easiest yeast dough recipe I have ever made. And you've got time to practice before Thanksgiving. If you have a crowd coming, go back to the original recipe that makes two dozen rolls.


1 cup warm milk
1 tablespoon instant dry yeast (I used a jar of Fleishmann's Bread Machine Instant Yeast)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 large egg
3 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon melted butter, for brushing tops

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine warm milk, yeast, sugar, salt, butter and egg.

Add in 2-1/2 cups flour. Using dough hook, turn the mixer on to a low speed (don't want to throw flour all over the kitchen!) Once the flour starts to mix into the dought, increase the speed to medium. Slowly add the remaining 1/2 cup flour until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. The dough should be slightly sticky and soft.

Transfer dough to a lightly greased mixing bowl. Turn dough in bowl so that the oiled side is up. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place for 90 minutes.

Lightly grease baking sheet. (Use a quarter sheet pan, about 9x13 inches.) Punch down the dough, turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Form into 12 rolls. (Divide dough in half. Divide each half in half again. Then make three rolls from each of those pieces.) Place rolls, smooth side up, on greased baking sheet in rows—three across, four down. Cover and let rise 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. (Turn on the oven during the last 10 minutes of rising time.) Bake the rolls for 12 to 14 minutes, until lightly browned.

Remove from oven and brush tops with melted butter. Serve warm. Or, to cool, let them rest on the pan for 15 minutes, then move to wire rack and cool completely. After they are completely cook, store in a plastic bag.

It's a Daddy-O approved recipe!
  • Yeast dough is not fragile. Don't be afraid to handle it. And if the first batch isn't perfect, don't be afraid to try again.
  • I took the egg out of the refrigerator when I took the butter out to soften it. Then it wasn't so cold when I used it.
  • To warm milk, put in microwave for 30 seconds, stir, microwave another 30 seconds. Should feel as warm as baby bath water.
  • Measure all the dry ingredients before you start. It's just easier that way.
  • Take time to smooth the rolls when shaping to make prettier rolls.
  • I used a quarter sheet pan. If you don't have one, use a 9x13-inch baking dish.
  • Keep your jar of yeast in refrigerator after opening.
  • If you don't have a mixer with a dough hook, you can mix this by hand and knead it some. Start with a spoon until it's too stiff to stir, then finish with your hands.
  • Next time I'll use a dark baking sheet so that the bottoms brown a little. This was a new shiny baking sheet. There is a difference between dark and shiny pans. This time I turned the cooled rolls (after we ate three) over and put them under the broiler for just a bit. Cooking is about making adjustments when you need to. 
  • Find a good spot for letting the dough rise. I put my bowl on top of our cold toaster oven. That puts the dough close to the under-cabinet lights which give off a little heat. You can turn your oven on low for 3 minutes, then turn it off and place your bowl in the oven. If you need to know more, look at these tips on best places to let bread rise.
  • Make a note of how long the rolls cook in your oven. Mine took 14-15 minutes.
  • Understand that even though this is easy, you might need a couple of times before you get it just right. It has to do with understanding your oven, and learning which pan you like best, etc. Give yourself permission to mess up—but I'm betting you won't!


  1. Yummy - looks like they were a hit! I just found a yeast bread recipe that bakes as a round loaf in a Dutch oven. Have you done any of those? It has no milk and no eggs, plus you don't knead it.

    1. Oh, Barb, these were so good. Yes, I have made the recipe you're talking about. My experience with it is in the recipe index as "Crusty No-Knead Bread" and has a link back to the recipe I used. I had a learning curve--but it was the same issue that we've had with the cinnamon rolls and these rolls. The southern flours just don't work well. Once I got that straightened out, it was delicious! And easy.

      I need to make that loaf again. I got a Dutch oven last Christmas but haven't made that recipe lately.

      Do you have to make adjustments for high altitude baking?

  2. they turned out beautifully!! My dinner bun recipe is quite similar. If you make them in summer when the windows are open, watch for the stampede of neighbours following their noses to your place!

    1. I forgot to mention the side benefit---how good your house smells during this process. We live in the country too far to entice neighbors, but I can imagine your stampede!

  3. Always such good advice to be had by reading your baking/cooking tips. The rolls look fabulous. i may actually take yournhint and 'practice' before Thanksgiving. There's a college student here who will appreciate it. ;-)

    1. I've heard from a reader who has already tried these and she said the bottoms of hers didn't get done enough. When that happened to mine, I just flipped the rolls over and put the under the broiler for about a minute.

      Please tell me about flour brands in your grocery stores. Can you buy the softer southern flours like White Lily or Martha White? What brands are available where you live?

  4. I am saving this recipe for a morning when I have time to play. I grew up in New England and having been using various versions of King Arthur flour forever. When I was first learning to make biscuits and they weren't light and fluffy, a southern friend of told me to stop using that northern flour and go and get some Martha White! She was right, it made all of the difference. Fortunately, KAF company makes many types of flours.
    Meanwhile, thanks for the recipe. Judy

    1. I remember learning in college cooking labs that northern flours and southern flours were different. And I can vouch for that fact. Looking back over my blog, I found several recipes (cinnamon rolls and crusty no-knead bread) where we had tried our beloved White Lily flour first—and it just didn't work. Switching to King Arthur remedied the problem. Maybe I'll remember that with the next new yeast recipe. Thanks for sharing your biscuit experience. That's like my tale in reverse!


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