The Thanksgiving Roll Basket

Sunday November 15, 2015

It is the very fresh, golden brown, tender dinner roll that dominates a fully provisioned traditional Thanksgiving table.  My favorite holiday of the year, Thanksgiving is the only holiday devoted entirely to enjoying food.  It is a time to share a meal with family and guests, as well as showcasing some of your culinary specialties.

Some cooks like to make homemade dinner rolls for special occasion baking. Excellent melt-in-your-mouth individual rolls are exceptionally easy to make; the dough is soft and kneaded only briefly in contrast to the hearty rustic breads that take lots of special ingredients, vigorous kneading, and plenty of time to rise.  And you can use all-purpose flour easily found on the supermarket shelf (fresh flour please!). The forming of different shapes take no special skills; you just divide into portions and roll or cut.  Precision is not important here, the shape will even out during the rising and baking.

A basket is lined with a linen napkin and piled high with the baked rolls dramatically formed into different shapes. You can mix by hand, in the stand mixer, or in the bread machine. You can make one type or if you have a big group, a selection of different flavors and shapes. For the easiest handling, they are individually sized:  crunchy irregular crescents, bow knots of a fine-textured rich egg dough, little swirls topped with seeds, crunchy whole grain twists, the fold over Parker House square, and earthy cloverleaf cushions enriched with a sweet vegetable purée–just the right size to hold in your hand while cradling your fork in the other.  For a shiny golden brown crust, brush the rolls with a beaten egg just before baking, or for a soft crust, brush with melted butter coming right out of the oven.

For the busy cook, dinner rolls can be made and parbaked up to a month ahead, frozen, and then finished off in the oven after the turkey comes out.  Homemade convenience food! As an alternative, they can be made and shaped the day before serving, refrigerated on a disposable aluminum tray and baked whenever your schedule allows (they will keep rising ever so slowly in the refrigerator).

Either way, they are ready to serve while the heavenly, yeasty aroma lingers in the kitchen and

The Wheat Harvest: Home from the Gleaning by Valentine Prinsep

they are really piping-hot.  A fresh-baked roll is at it’s peak in fragrance and flavor immediately after baking.  However you decide to make them, be sure the butter is not far away !

BROWN-AND-SERVE Dinner Rolls

Mix, rise, and shape the rolls as directed in the recipe.  Place in a greased baking pan or on a baking sheet.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap.  Let the rolls rise until doubled in bulk, about 40 minutes.  Bake on the center rack of a preheated 300º oven until the rolls are fully baked, but not browned, about 15 to 20 minutes.  Remove from the pan and cool the rolls completely on a wire rack.  Place the rolls in a heavy-duty plastic freezer bag and refrigerate for up to 2 days, or freeze for up to 1 month.

To serve: Let the frozen rolls thaw at room temperature in the bag.  Place in a single layer on an ungreased or parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake in a preheated 375º oven until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.  Serve immediately.

REFRIGERATOR Dinner Rolls

After forming the rolls, brush the tops with melted butter and cover loosely with 2 layers of plastic wrap, leaving some room for expansion and taking care to tightly wrap all the edges.  Immediately refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours.  When ready to bake, uncover and let stand at room temperature 10 to 20 minutes while preheating the oven to 400º.  Bake as directed.  Serve immediately.

photograph by Victor Budnick from my first book, Bread

Roll Basket Bowknots

Ingredients

1 tablespoon (1 package) active dry yeast

Pinch of sugar

1 3/4 cup warm water (105º to 115º)

2 large eggs

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons salt

5 to 5 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water for glaze

Poppy or sesame seeds, for sprinkling

Instructions

In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast and sugar over 3/4 cup of the warm water.  Stir to dissolve and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl with a whisk or the work bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the eggs, oil, sugar, salt, remaining 1 cup water, and 2 cups of the flour.  Add the yeast mixture; beat for 2 minutes, or until smooth and creamy.  Gradually add the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until a soft dough is formed that just clears the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until satiny and elastic, about 1 minute, adding flour 1 tablespoon at a time as necessary to prevent sticking and making a very smooth dough.  Place in a greased deep container, turn once to coat the top, and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise until doubled in bulk at room temperature, about 1 1/2 hours.

Lightly grease or parchment-line 2 baking sheets.  Turn the dough out onto the work surface in half.  Divide each half into 10 equal portions; roll each portion into a long rope about 6 inches long.  Form a large loop and carefully tuck one end through the center to tie loosely into a knot.  Tuck the other end under and place 2 inches apart on the baking sheets.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until not quite doubled, about 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400º.

Brush with the egg glaze and sprinkle with seeds.  Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown.  Makes 20 large rolls.

left to right: cloverleafs, twists, bowknots

Whole Wheat Almond Sour Cream Twists

Ingredients

1/4 cup slivered almonds

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup warm water (105º to 115º)

1 tablespoon (1 package) active dry yeast

Pinch of brown sugar

2 large eggs

4 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine, melted

1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons salt

2 to 2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Instructions

Combine the almonds and whole wheat flour in a food processor; grind to a flour.  In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the warm water.  Stir to dissolve and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl with a whisk or the work bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the eggs, butter, sour cream, sugar, salt, and  almond flour.  Add the yeast.  Beat for 2 minutes, or until smooth and creamy.  Gradually add the unbleached flour 1/2 cup at a time until a soft dough is formed that just clears the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until soft and springy, about 1 minute, adding flour 1 tablespoon at a time as necessary to prevent sticking and making a very soft dough.  Do not add too much flour or rolls will be dry.  Place in a greased deep container, turn once to coat the top, and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise at room temperature until doubled, about 1 hour.

Lightly grease or parchment-line 2 baking sheets.  Turn the dough out onto the work surface and divide into 4 equal portions.  With palms, roll each portion into a 12-inch rope.  Divide each into 12 portions; roll each with your palms into a 5-inch rope.  Push each end in the opposite direction to twist slightly and pinch ends to make an elongated oval.  Twist one or two times around each other and place 1 inch apart on the baking sheets.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375º.

Bake in the preheated oven 15 to 18 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Makes 24 twists.

Carrot Cloverleaf Rolls

Ingredients

1 tablespoon (1 package) active dry yeast

photo One Kings Lane

Pinch brown sugar

1/4 cup warm water (105º to 115º)

3/4 cup warm milk (105º to 115º)

1/4 cup golden rum or bourbon whiskey

1 cup warm puréed cooked carrots or junior baby carrots

3 tablespoons light brown sugar

Grated zest of 1 orange

2 teaspoons salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine, melted

4 to 4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Melted butter or margarine, for brushing

Instructions

In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the warm water.  Stir to dissolve and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl with a whisk or the work bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the milk, rum, carrots, brown sugar, orange zest, salt, and butter.  Add the yeast mixture and 2 cups of the flour.  Beat for 2 minutes, or until smooth and creamy.  Gradually add the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until a soft dough is formed that just clears the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until satiny and elastic, about 1 minute, adding flour 1 tablespoon at a time as necessary to prevent sticking and making a very smooth dough.  Place in a greased deep container, turn once to coat the top, and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise at room temperature until doubled, about 1 hour.

Grease 16 cups of 2 standard muffin tins.  Turn the dough out onto the work surface and divide in half.  Divide each portion into 8 equal portions.  Divide each of these portions into 3 portions, and form these into small balls about the size of a walnut (about 1 inch in diameter-a total of 48 pieces).  Arrange 3 balls of dough in each of the 16 cups.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400º.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown.  Brush with melted butter just out of the oven.  Makes 16 cloverleaf rolls.

Cornmeal Crescent Dinner Rolls

Ingredients

1 tablespoon (1 package) active dry yeast

Pinch of sugar

1/4 cup water (105º to 115º)

1 cup warm buttermilk (105º to 115º)

1/4 cup light olive oil

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons salt

2 large eggs

3/4 cup medium or fine grind yellow cornmeal

About 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Instructions

In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the warm water.  Stir to dissolve and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl with a whisk or work bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine buttermilk, oil, sugar, salt, eggs, and cornmeal.  Beat hard to make a smooth batter.  Add yeast mixture.  Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a soft dough is formed that just clears the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface  and knead until soft and springy, 1 minute, dusting with flour only 1 tablespoon at a time, just enough as needed to prevent sticking; dough will feel slightly sticky. Place in a greased deep container, turn once to coat the top, and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise at room temperature until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

Lightly grease or parchment-line 2 baking sheets.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 3 equal portions.  Roll or pat each into a circle about 1/4 inch thick. With a knife or pastry wheel, cut each into 8 pie-shaped sections each measuring about 2 1/2 to 3 inches across the wide end.  Roll wedges from the wide end towards the point into a crescent.  Place, with tip of crescent down, 1 inch apart, on the prepared baking sheets, curving the ends inward.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until just double, about 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375º.

Bake in the preheated oven 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown.  Makes 24 small crescents.

Recipe and text copyright Beth Hensperger 2015

Please enjoy the recipes and make them your own. If you copy the recipe and text for internet use, please include my byline and link to my site.



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