The holidays are a special time of the year, so indulge your family with the mouth-watering aroma of bread baking the oven. For a simple, guaranteed delicious dinner roll, try the Soft White Dinner Rolls recipe from King Arthur Flour. I made them for Thanksgiving along with a batch of Honey Wheat Rolls (also KAF Guaranteed), and both varieties were a success! The Soft White Dinner Rolls are pictured above, but I didn't get a chance to snap a photo of the wheat rolls. For you eagle-eyed readers out there who will surely notice I have 7 rolls in the pan instead of 8, don't fret-- I put 7 rolls in an 8-inch round pan and 9 in a 9-inch square pan (instead of 8 rolls in each of two 9-inch round pans) and it worked out fine.
Now if you really want to impress your guests, whip up some homemade crescent rolls. The canned ones are great alongside your weekday meals, but when only the best will do, try your hand at these beauties. With a delicate, blistery crust and rich tender interior, these rolls are sure to please. It will take some planning though, as the dough requires quite a bit of chill time (once overnight, and a second chill for 2 hours or up to 3 days). I recommend following the instructions for making these ahead of time and freezing the partially baked rolls.
They only look like angry little crabs!
Crescent Rolls (Makes 16)
Cooks Illustrated Holiday Baking 2006
When you bake the crescent rolls, make sure the light in the oven is switched off. If the light is on after you shut the oven door, the burst of steam may cause the bulb to crack. You can make the dough up to 4 days ahead of time or even partially bake the rolls and freeze them for up to 1 month. To do this, begin baking the rolls as instructed, but let them bake at 350 degrees for only 4 minutes. Remove them from the oven and let cool. Place the partially baked rolls in a single layer inside a zipper-lock bag and freeze. When you're ready to serve them, defrost at room temperature and place them in a preheated 350-degree oven for 12 to 16 minutes.
¾ cup skim milk
16 Tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
¼ cup sugar
3 large eggs
3½ cups (17½ ounces) unbleached high-protein all-purpose flour (such as King Arthur) OR 4 cups (20 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour (such as Pillsbury or Gold Medal), plus extra for work surface
1 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
1½ teaspoons table salt
1 egg white beaten with 1 teaspoon water
1. Microwave milk, butter, and sugar in 4-cup microwave-safe measuring cup until butter is mostly melted and mixture is warm (about 110 degrees on instant-read thermometer), about 1½ minutes. Whisk to dissolve and blend in sugar. Beat eggs lightly in medium bowl; add about one-third of warm milk mixture, whisking to combine. When bottom of bowl feels warm, add remaining milk mixture, whisking to combine.
2. Combine flour and yeast in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment; mix on lowest speed to blend, about 15 seconds. With mixer running, add milk and egg mixture in steady stream; mix on low speed until loose, shiny dough forms (you may also see satiny webs as dough moves in bowl), about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium and beat 1 minute; add salt slowly and continue beating until stronger webs form, about 3 minutes longer. (Dough will remain loose rather than forming a neat, cohesive mass.) Transfer dough to large bowl, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and place in warm, draft-free spot until dough doubles in bulk and surface feels tacky, about 3 hours.
3. Line rimmed baking sheet with plastic wrap. Sprinkle dough with flour (no more than 2 Tablespoons) to prevent sticking, and punch down. Turn dough onto floured work surface and form into rough rectangle shape. Transfer rectangle to lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
4. Turn dough rectangle onto lightly floured work surface. Roll dough to a 20 by 13-inch rectangle; use a pizza wheel to trim the edges. Cut the dough in half lengthwise, then cut each half into 8 triangles. Before rolling the crescents, elongate each triangle of dough, stretching it an additional 2 to 3 inches in length. Starting at the wide end, gently roll up each crescent, ending with the pointed tip on the bottom, and push the ends toward each other to form a crescent shape. Arrange crescents in four rows on parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet; wrap baking sheet with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.
5. Remove baking sheet with chilled rolls from refrigerator, unwrap, and cover with overturned large disposable roasting pan. (Alternatively, place sheet pan inside large garbage bag.) Let rise until crescents feel slightly tacky and soft and have lost their chill, 45 to 60 minutes. Meanwhile, turn oven light off, place rimmed baking sheet on lowest rack, adust second rack to lower-middle position, and heat oven to 425 degrees.
6. With pastry brush, lightly dab risen crescent rolls with egg wash. Transfer baking sheet with rolls to lower-middle rack and, working quickly, pour 1 cup hot tap water onto hot baking sheet on lowest rack. Close door immediately and bake 10 minutes; reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking until tops and bottoms of rolls are deep golden brown, 12 to 16 minutes longer. Transfer rolls to wire rack, cool for 5 minutes, and serve warm.