Tuesday, November 29, 2011

pass those deliciously buttery dinner rolls, but hold the guilt, please.

i realize it has taken me a while to blog about thanksgiving.

but don't worry, because i haven't forgotten a thing about these rolls.

as you may know, 9 out of 10 times, i am looking for healthy recipes. ones that don't make me feel super guilty after eating them. ones that avoid the fat and calories that i could really do without. and ones that still taste super good.

yeah, this is not one of those kinds of recipes.
(minus the tasting super good part.)

can you tell?

yes that's melted butter glistening off the soft, golden brown tops of these crescent roll-esque dinner rolls.

and yes, there's more butter in the actual recipe.

but before you start counting the calories, pulling out your dietetic textbook, or start searching for another recipe with a more heart-healthy, figure-friendly outcome, just pause and listen to the characteristics of these dynamite rolls.


yeah. make these (or beg me to make them for you) and you will understand the extent of my made up word, and all the others.

however, when i first spotted these, i was reluctant.

i'll admit it. i don't like measuring (if you couldn't tell).
hence, i don't like baking (except the end products).
therefore, whenever i see yeast in a recipe, i start this slow backing away process.
like i try to pretend it didn't see me looking at it with that weird look in my eyes.

you see, back in my high school cooking class, my group was assigned to make a yeast bread. we followed the directions, measured correctly (probably) and did the best we could. but let's be honest, the kids in my group were more likely to head to a correctional facility than any sort of culinary competition. basically what i'm saying is that if someone measured out 4 cups of flour by scooping the 3/4 cup measure into the flour container and just used whatever they came up with as "1 cup," surprised would not be my first reaction.

my first reaction would've been more like... ughhh, please tell me you're kidding.

needless to say, our yeast bread turned out to be more like a yeast pound cake, if that's possible. normally density is not a term we use to describe bread, but that was the first thing that came to my mind when i saw our little nugget of flour, yeast, and water. blech.

anywaysssss, moral of the story is i don't didn't like to see yeast in recipes. but now i have learned to embrace it, because these cute little guys got lots of compliments, definitely worth the time spent putting into them!

so the first thing i did was pop the milk, first portion of sugar and a stick of butter into the microwave. get it all sorts of hot and melty until the butter is almost all the way melted.

since you have to put your yeast into this mixture and right now it's super hot, add 1-2 cups of the flour to cool it down. then add the egg and the salt and then let it hang out while you get your yeast ready. but don't freak out like me... it'll all work out in the end.


in this handy measuring cup, i put in 2 cups of warm water.

listen up people. this has to be warm water. not screaming hot and not lukewarm/coldish. like the temperature of water you would have little kids wash their hands with. hey, that's a good way to remember it. i just thought of that. hmm.

anyways, mix in the other 1 tbsp. of sugar and stir it until it dissolves.
 while it's dissolving, measure out your 2 tbsp. of yeast. i don't know why the original recipe uses this amount since it's almost exactly 3 of those individual packets, but if it makes it easier for you it's three packets of yeast minus about 1/2 a teaspoon.

stir those together really good until you don't have any large globs of yeast floating around. then let it sit for about 5 minutes or until you get some bubbles forming at the top of the mixture. it's kind of hard to tell, but try to take a look at what mine looks like:

then add all of the yeast mixture to your (warm!) milk mixture. if it's still too hot, let it sit for a couple more minutes. the yeast is aliveeeeee! and hot temperatures kill the yeast, which is not what we want. little alton brown tidbit for you :)

mix the yeast mixture and milk mixture together and it's time to bring on the flour! add the flour 2 cups at a time until you get to the full 9-10 cups.

slowly, slowly, my mixture took just about all 10 cups, which seems ridiculous... but true.

after about 8 cups, i decided hands were the best tool to use. and most fun, obviously.

without overworking the dough, i just added flour on top and gently worked it in by folding the dough over itself, rotating it, and repeating.

being the fairly messy cook that i am, flour was not only all over the countertops, but also on the clothes that i wore for thanksgiving and definitely found under all my fingernails. i'm so used to working in restaurants where there is at least one box of gloves open at all times that when i cook at home and i'm about to touch something messy or gross-feeling, my brain almost always thinks: gloves.
when i grow up (ha!) and have my own nice kitchen, i am seriously contemplating buying gloves for situations such as this.

and this stuff was stickkkkky, let me tell you. so more flour, here we go!

after one last flour addition and one last flour spout all over myself, i smoothed out the dough and covered it in plastic wrap.

the directions say to keep it in a warm place until the dough doubles in size.

however, i live in wisconsin. it is november. my house is not exactly, dough-proofingly warm. so i put it on my mom's cooktop in between two burners and put them both on low. genius, or so i thought.

as the seconds slipped by, and the packer game drew closer and closer to halftime (when we were supposed to leave for my aunt and uncle's house), my dough had only risen by maybe 25% of what it started out as.

freak out mode commenced.

but then, what's a better place to crank the heat and get this dough rising than on the floor of a car with the heat blasting? hello! yes.

and that is exactly what i did. i kept it all nice and wrapped up, threw it on the floor where the heat came out, and cranked that heat until my siblings were rolling down the windows gasping for a shot of cold air. these are just some of the sacrifices we make for good food.

and when we arrived, the dough was higher than the sides of the bowl and pushing the plastic wrap to it's limits. unfortunately, i don't have any pictures of that, or of the rolling out and cutting process. my camera was left in the car and while i was hard at work in the kitchen, apparently my family thinks that the packer game is more important than taking pictures of food.

and it is very hard for me to disagree with them.

once i got there and managed to buy myself some real estate on my aunt's countertops, i threw down some flour, and plopped out the huge amount of dough. i cut it into 4 equal sections and took it one sections at a time.

after rolling out the dough into a circle, i smushed some room temperature butter all over it.
oh yeah i did.
 then, i used a pizza slicer to cut each round into 8 slices (just like you would a pizza).
starting from the fat side, i rolled them up just like crescent rolls and placed them on a buttered (yes, more butter) baking sheet.
i did the same for the other three sections of dough and then placed the very full sheets of rolls on top of the oven. i finished them with about 30 minutes to spare so it was the perfect amount of time for them to rise again sitting on that hot oven.

yeah, you know... just a couple of rolls...

the dough is so soft and easy to work with, it's miraculous.

and even better once you pull them out of the oven, all golden brown and delicious looking. take some more of that room temperature butter and just rub it all over the tops of these babies. they're still smokin' hot from the oven, so the butter should melt just about on contact.
and *bonus* it makes them shiny. and obviously more delicious. :)

i feel like the only downside of these is that they make almost 50 rolls, so you can't exactly make them for a weeknight kind of dinner.

then again, these are not something anybody should just be eating on an average weeknight. things like this should be saved for big events and holidays where family and friends matter more than calories and waistlines.

Buttery Dinner Rolls
1½ cups milk
¾ cup + 1 tbsp. sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp. salt
2 tbsp. active dry yeast
2 cups warm water
about 9 – 10 cups flour
at least 1 cup butter

Scald milk, ¾ cup sugar and ½ cup butter in a microwave safe bowl, for about 2 minutes. Cutting the butter into pieces helps is melt faster. There will probably be some little cubes of butter still floating in the mixture, they will melt.

To cool it down stir in 1-2 cups of flour, then add 1 egg and 1 Tablespoon of salt, and leave it to cool for a couple of minutes. Meanwhile, in a measuring cup dissolve 2 Tablespoons of yeast in 2 cups of warm water and 1 Tablespoon of sugar. Let it sit for a couple of minutes until it is bubbly.

**Keep track of how much flour you are adding!

Make sure your milk mixture is just warm, not boiling and add the yeast mixture. Using a fork or wooden spoon, gradually stir in 9-10 cups of flour (counting the flour you have already added to cool it earlier). I would recommend only adding 2 cups at time and stirring in between. These rolls turn out so much better when they are mixed by hand.

At the end the dough will be dense and sticky, and may be hard to stir, you can use your hands to incorporate the rest of the flour if needed. Be sure not to add too much flour. Then smooth the dough out and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Leave it in a warm place and let it rise until it has doubled in size.

When your dough is close to rising completely, butter 2 cookie sheets and set them aside. Cover your working space with flour to prevent the dough from sticking. Dump your dough out and divide it into 4 balls. Eyeball the sizes, then lift them up and feel the weight of each ball.

Using one ball of dough at a time: roll the dough into a circle on a floured counter. Once it is rolled out spread the top with butter from edge to edge. You will use about 2 Tablespoons per circle of dough.

Cut the dough into quarters using a pizza cutter. Cut each quarter into 2 or 3 pieces. You should end up with 8-12 triangles from each circle of dough. The more even the size, the more evenly they will cook later. Then, roll the dough starting with the wide end of the triangle. Tuck the tail of the triangle under the roll and place it on the buttered cookie sheet.

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Place the pans of rolls in a warm place (on top of the oven if possible) to let them rise. Once they are touching and full in size, cook (one pan at a time) in the oven until they are golden brown and delicious. It will take about 10 – 15 minutes, maybe longer depending on how hot your oven cooks. Keep a close eye on them.

While they are still hot and fresh out of the oven run a stick of butter over the tops of the rolls for a delicious buttery glaze. Makes 32-48 rolls, depending on how large (or small) you make the triangles.

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