Soft Dinner Rolls: Do you take the quick way or an extra step?

I’ve learned so much about bread making, one thing is good bread takes time. Of course I’m not an expert baker, just a New Mom teaching myself. I’m sure there are professionals out there who know some great secrets.

It takes me more time to make bread because I do all by hand, no stand mixer. This adds to the time it takes for me to complete my bread from start to finish. My French bread can take me an avg 3 hours. So I wanted to adopt another style of bread that would take less time.

I did some research and found dinner rolls! I found a recipe I liked on All Recipes.com. Classic Dinner Rolls

I made this recipe 3 times. However I started to adapt my own recipe as I’ve been experimenting with bread. Oddly it wasn’t until I was looking over the recipe from All Recipes for how long the recipe took, that I realized I added a step to the recipe it did not call for. So I decided to test things out.

The classic dinner roll recipe did not require two rises. The recipe had you knead then shape into round loafs. Doing this cuts time from my method, however how do the rolls differ?

Now I made my own recipe for Dinner Rolls so I can’t tell you that my test was with the recipe from All Recipes and who knows if it would differ. But I can answer the question you may ask yourself while reading my recipe for Dinner Rolls.

Do I need to let it rise twice? In the end it’s up to you. The flavor of this recipe is still great either way. But I will say there is a benefit that will make this recipe a greater success if you DON’T skip the two rise process. I did an experiment and wanted to share.

Which roll do you think only did one rise & which roll had two rises?

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The roll on the left was one rise, roll on right was two rise. Can you determine what makes the two rise roll my preferred choice? The 2nd rise in my opinion is “prettier”, it’s even and the top if fuller. Where as the 1 rise roll has collapsed and there is a gap around the top. When you form the dough to shape without letting it rise before you cant even out the bubbles that form. Doing a 2 rise process gets minimizes the bubbles/gaps. If looks where the only difference I wouldn’t bother saying take the extra time just for looks.

The reason I say take the extra time is because of the texture. The 2nd rise roll was much softer and tender, melted in the mouth. The 1 rise roll was still soft but not to the same degree.

I also realized I was able to properly measure out more rolls using 2nd rise rolls. I made one batch of dough and split in half for test. The 1 rise rolls I was only able to measure out 6 rolls, the 2nd rise rolls I got 8 rolls. If you do the 2 rise you will get 16 rolls, where as the 1 rise I predict 12-14 rolls.

Rolls on Left 1 rise, rolls on right 2 rise.

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This recipe calls for Sour Cream, it adds to the flavor of my recipe. If you do not have sour cream you can eliminate. If you want you can substitute the 1/8 potato water with 1/8 of milk instead to keep a richness. Of course that’s if you are using 2% or high milk. If you have half & half you could use that to increase “fat”.

Soft Dinner Rolls Recipe

Please note: I use potato water & plain mashed potatoes. This really adds to the soft tender rolls. Please see my instruction for making potato water & plain mashed potatoes (super easy) by going to my recipe for White Sandwich Bread

3 Cups of Unbleached All Purpose Flour (plus 1/4 cup for kneading process)

1 package fast/quick rise yeast

1/4 cup of milk

3 tBs Butter (I use salted)

3/4 plus 1/8 cup of potato water
Please see my recipe for White Sandwich Bread and look at step 1 for instructions.

1/8 cup mashed potatoes
Please see instruction under my White Sandwich Bread in step 1

2 tBs Sugar

1/2 tSp plus 1/4 tSp sea salt

2 tBs Sour Cream

1/4 tSp vanilla extract (optional)

Step 1: Take 3/4 plus 1/8 cup of potato water and place in pan. Add milk, butter & sugar. Warm until butter melts and temperature reaches 120 degrees. Then add 1/8 cup of mashed potatoes to liquid. Stir to combine. Then add sour cream & vanilla.

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Step 2: In a large bowl take 3/4 of flour from the 3 cups, and combined 3/4 flour with package of yeast into bowl. Add liquid mixture and mix together until well combined.

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Step 3: Cover with towel and let dough sit for 10 min. This helps flour absorb the liquid better.

After 10 min

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Step 4: Add salt and whisk well into dough. You can’t hurt the dough so mix well.

Step 5: Add the rest of the flour a 1/2 cup at a time. Make sure to combine well before adding more. I use a whisk in the beginning then switch to a spoon as it gets to thick for whisk. Of course if using a stand mixer use your paddle then switch over to dough hook.

Dough after half flour added

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Dough after all flour added

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Step 6: Let dough rest for 5 min.

Step 7: Flour counter lightly and place dough out. Then lightly flour top of dough and start kneading the dough. Knead by hand for 10 min lightly adding more flour. Do not add to much flour at a time. Knead a few strokes before adding more flour dusting. The dough will be sticky so don’t worry if dough gets on your hands. Just be careful not to over flour, the 1/4 cup of flour should sufficient. To much flour will ruin texture of dough.

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Step 8: Let dough rest for 5 min. Then start kneading for an additional 5 min. If using a stand mixer knead for 5 min, rest for 2, knead for 2 min let rest.
Dough will be kneaded properly if u lightly push down with finger, if dough springs back quickly you are done. If indent stays you need to knead longer, try another 5 min by hand and 2 min with stand mixer.

Dough after 10 min of hand kneading

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Step 9: Here is were you decide 1 rise or 2 rise? To speed up rising process I suggest pre-heating oven to 200 degrees. Once dough is done for 1 rise or 2 rise, turn oven OFF. Then place dough into oven. This will speed up rising.

1 Rise: Once kneading is complete let dough rest for 10 min. I suggest lightly oiling a clean bowl and place dough in bowl then cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rest.

Once dough has rested, lightly oil counter too then lay out dough. Using finger tips press down on dough to puncture any bubbles. Now start forming the dough into individual balls. Please see step 11 for instructions.

2 Rise: Once kneading is complete place dough in a clean and lightly oiled bowl, make sure bowl is large enough for dough to double in size. Lightly oil the top of dough. This will keep dough from drying out. Then cover bowl with plastic wrap. Place in warm oven, remember make sure oven is OFF. Let dough rise, it takes 45 min because you are using quick/fast rise yeast.

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Step 10: Once dough has double in size , punch down lightly with fist. Then roll out on a lightly oiled counter. Flatten dough with fingers and puncture air bubbles. Try to get rid of the big ones, if there are small ones, not the end of the world. But try to puncture. Then form dough back into ball. I fold from top to middle, right to middle, left to middle then bottom to middle. I repeat process twice.

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Step 11: Shape into individual rolls. I split dough down the middle (if you have a dough cutter or food scraper use to cut. If not, knife is sufficient). Then slice each half into half’s, and repeat process until you have 16 pieces of dough. If you did 1 rise you may only be able to 12 pieces. If any pieces are larger just cut off a little dough and add to smaller pieces.

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I choose to use a muffin pan. You can use a baking pan 9×13 if you don’t want to use muffin pan. I prefer muffin pan because of the browning and outside crispness it provides each individual roll. Oil your pan, if using muffin pan make sure to oil each section. I have non-stick muffin pans but I still oil pan. If you don’t I would suggest using an additional process of parchment paper. Cut out individual circles for bottom of each section. You don’t need to, if you oil well enough you should be fine.

For shaping rolls: Do one at a time. Flatten piece of dough. Gather side into each other, then the other side into middle. You may need to do this 3-5 times to get round shape. Make sure you pinch edges together. Then place into muffin pan. Or if using baker pan place 1/2 inch apart.

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Once all pieces have been shaped you need to let dough rest to rise or proof.

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If you choose the 1 rise method: Lightly oil the tops of dough. Cover with plastic wrap, just lay over top don’t press sides down. Then let dough rest in the warm oven (again making sure turned off) and rise for 30-45 min. If large bubbles formed after rising time, you can take kitchen scissors and make a small cut. Remove pan from oven. Turn oven on and pre-heat to 375. Remove plastic wrap and place pan into oven and bake for 15 min, or until a nice brown top forms. 15 min usually is perfect when using muffin pan. If a baking pan check rolls at 15, and bake a little longer, between an additional 2-5 min.

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2 Rise method: After shaping rolls you will let the rolls rest for 30 min. Please read tips in 1 Rise (see paragraph above)

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After proofing

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Step 12: Once rolls are done baking wait 5 min then remove rolls from muffin pan and place on a cooling rack. Please do not skip this step, you risk the possibility of soggy bottoms. If you want a crispy outside like when you eat a croissant make sure to follow this step.

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The top of the rolls will feel hard. You should let rolls rest for 10 min. This allows the texture of the bread finish developing.

Never store rolls until completely cooled. Takes about 1-2 hours. Condensation will develop and make rolls wet. If you are taking rolls to some place else and don’t have the time to wait for 1-2 hrs, I suggest place rolls in parchment paper or a paper bad and don’t seal or wrap the top if bag.

I love this recipe and prefer the 2 rise method. The extra 30 min is worth the time if you have the time. You still need to prepare for 1.5-2hrs depending on which method.

But either way you choose one fact remains, they still taste great!

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