I wouldn’t exactly call my father-in-law easy to please when it comes to homemade foods. Don’t mistake me. He’s polite enough but the whole family has all but expressly vowed to never let him live down our first thanksgiving with me & my husband’s family. I slaved for the entire week, prepping and making everything from scratch. I mean, it had ALL the fixin’s I could think of, minus Mammaw’s giblet gravy, which to be honest, that stuff was NOT hitting my table!
So, we’re all sitting their enjoying this grand feast, and everyone around the table was going through the rotations of cordiality in thanking me and complimenting the cooking. Yet, when it gets to Dad, I hear “it’s fine.” Oh, dear, if I could but capture the expression on his face and tone in his voice in these words.
Oh, no offense is taken. I’m always busting his chops and this just gives me one more thing to pick at him about. I just love my in-laws!
Now, with this little tidbit in mind, you can understand why I would say it spoke volumes when he fell so madly in love with these holiday rolls that the thought of even adding anything to them was just a no-go. He’s always loved following Thanksgiving with mini turkey sandwiches, using whatever was left of the rolls. He’s since come to determine that the turkey just ruins the good bread.
So, short-story-long, these rolls never disappoint and always get rave reviews. If you’re making them among a larger spread, know that you can make the dough and refrigerate it for up to 3 days prior (or even freeze it to have it ready a couple weeks ahead.) Just make sure you bring it back up to room temp prior to shaping.
1½ teaspoons Sea Salt
6 tablespoons Honey or Agave
2 teaspoons Instant Yeast (bread machine kind)
1 large Egg (vegan substitute 1 tbsp Ground Flax pre-mixed with 3 tbsp water)
¼ cup Virgin Coconut Oil or Organic Butter
1 cup Buttermilk (I substitute with Almond Milk, using a ratio of 1 cup Almond Milk pre-mixed with 1 tbsp [Apple Cider] vinegar)
1 Egg, whisked with 1 teaspoon water until frothy, for egg wash (optional). May also be brushed with a touch of honey, agave or maple.
Sesame Seeds or Poppy Seeds, for garnish (optional)
Mix together the flour, salt, buttermilk/almond milk substitute, sugar, and yeast in a 4-quart bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer).
Pour in the egg, coconut oil/butter, and 1½ cups plus 1 tablespoon water and mix with a large metal spoon (or on low speed of the electric mixer with the paddle attachment) until all the flour is absorbed and the dough forms a ball. If the dough seems very stiff and dry, trickle in more water until the dough is soft and supple. (Note: if modifying with Whole Wheat Bread Flour, additional water may be needed; add by the tablespoon to yield desired consistency.)
Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mix on low speed with the dough hook[see manufacturer’s instructions}), adding more flour, if necessary, to create a dough that is soft, supple, and tacky but not sticky. Continue kneading (or mixing) for 6 to 8 minutes. (In the electric mixer, the dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick ever so slightly to the bottom.)
Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Ferment at room temperature for 1½ to 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size (the length of time will depend on the room temperature).
Remove the fermented dough from the bowl and divide it in half for sandwich loaves, into eighteen 2-ounce pieces for dinner rolls, or twelve 3-ounce pieces for burger or hot dog buns. Shape the pieces into boules (round balls) for loaves or tight rounds for dinner rolls or buns. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Allow to rest for about 20 minutes.
Lightly oil 2 8½ x 4½-inch loaf pans and place loaves in the pans.
For rolls and buns, line 2 sheet pans with baking parchment (rolls may also be arranged in 2 cake pans). Rolls require no further shaping. For hamburger buns, gently press down on the rolls to form the desired shape. For hot dog buns, gently roll into your elongated bun shape being mindful not to taper at the ends. Transfer rolls or buns to pans.
Mist the top of the dough with spray oil and loosely cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Proof the dough at room temperature for 60-90 minutes, or until it nearly doubles in size.
Preheat the oven to 350°F for loaves or 400°F for rolls and buns. Brush the rolls with optional egg wash. And garnish with seeds, if desired. Sandwich loaves may be brushed with egg wash and garnished or score them down the center and rub a little oil on the slit.
Bake the rolls and buns on the middle rack for approximately 13-15 minutes, or until they are golden brown and register just above 180°F in the center. Bake loaves on the middle rack 35-45 minutes, rotating 180 degrees halfway through for even baking, if needed. The tops should be golden brown and the sides, when removed from the pan, should also be golden. The internal temperature of the loaves should be close to 190°F and the loaves should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.
When the loaves have finished baking, remove them immediately from the pans and cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before slicing or serving. Rolls should cool for at least 15 minutes on a rack before serving.