Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pillow Soft Dinner Rolls/Bread

I've made this recipe twice now, once a few weeks ago and again tonight. It is quickly becoming one of my favorite bread recipes.

4.5 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 cups warm milk (I heat this on the stove and warm until it's hot to the touch but not uncomfortably hot)
1/2 cup warm water (I use this from tap and just turn on my hottest setting. My water heater is set at 120 degrees. The first time I made this I used 3/4s cup of water. No difference in final product, it just increased the amount of flour used.)
6 tablespoons shortening (I don't measure this exact, just scoop and dump)
2 eggs
1/4 cup of sugar
1.5 teaspoons of salt
7 cups of all purpose flour (use good quality flour!)

A few weeks ago I made tortillas and used cheap cheap store brand flour. They turned out terrible. They were hard and salty, and I quickly learned (and decided) to not use cheap flour ever again when making bread products. I prefer to use King Arthur, and haven't had any issues with it.

I decided to make two batches, one for dinner rolls and one for two loaves of sandwich bread.

The first thing I do is to proof my yeast by dissolving it in my warm water. I turn the mixer on slightly and just stir it to make sure it's completely dissolve. It will puff up a bit and thats perfectly fine! It's supposed to do that.

Then I heat the milk up on the stove until it's warm/hot to the touch but not uncomfortably so, and pour that into the yeast mixture.

All this time I am stirring with Betsy. Then I add the 6 tablespoons of shortening. It will not completely dissolve and may clump up. This is fine, it will dissolve as the flour is added.

Then I crack in the eggs, add the sugar, and the salt, and three cups of flour, all while mixing.

Once the initial flour is added the shortening will dissolve, so don't fret if it's all clumpy until this point. The flour stirs in pretty quickly. After that I add flour by the half cup until the dough begins to firm up. I've never had to use all 7 cups of flour, but I do use a fair bit. Once it begins to firm up I switch to my dough hook. At this point I may still need to add some more flour, normally about a cup or so, but I add it slowly and wait to see how the dough reacts. If it falls apart and beings to get softer I add more flour, if it's starts forming into a nice ball I back off. Making bread is all about feel, and the more you do it the more you'll get a feel for it.

Once the dough is the way I like it I knead it for a few more minutes and then dump into a bowl with a little oil in the bottom. I turn the dough once making sure that the oil completely coats the bread.

Place it in a warm place, either near your stove on warm or if it's summer anywhere in your kitchen will probably suffice. Cover it and let it rise for an hour.

At this point I had both of my doughs rising. You can see the one on the left has been rising for about 30 minutes longer and is well over the top of the bowl. This bread does RISE.

After an hour your dough should have doubled in size.

Now comes my favorite part! The dough punch! It is as satisfying as bubble wrap. Literally punch your dough down.

Once the dough is punched down I start ripping off pieces and placing them on a greased cookie sheet (I rub the cookie sheet down with shortening). You'll need at least two pans to cook all these rolls. The original recipe says to turn out on a floured surface, I've never done this. This is also satisfying. Your dough should be pretty stretchy and smooth. I always make mine way too large, but I use the leftover rolls for sandwiches for the days after. Smaller rolls would probably be better if this isn't your intention. These also freeze well, so don't be upset when you yield more rolls than you and your loved ones can possibly consume in one meal.

Cover the rolls on the cookie sheets again and let rest/rise for 30 minutes.

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees.

I won't give a time as it depends on how big your rolls are. You want them lightly golden browned on the top, but not overly brown on the bottom.

After they come out melt some butter or margarine in the microwave for a few seconds.

Rub the melted margarine/butter on the tops of your rolls.

The finished product is so soft, and such awesome quality. A lot of people complain, in the original recipe, about lack of flavor but I think these rolls taste like great quality bread. They don't need the bells and whistles

Like I said, I adapted this recipe for sandwich loaves. All the original steps are the same, but instead of pinching/tearing off clumps for rolls, I tore it in half and placed each in a greased (with shortening) loaf pan.

Baked this for roughly 26 minutes, until the tops were lightly golden brown.

And did the same butter treatment to the top. This also helps prevent the bread from becoming too dry.

This is my first time using it to make sandwich bread, but it turned out awesome!

The inside looks just like sandwich bread!

Even with broken arms, it sliced up so easily and thin for sandwiches

I sliced one loaf and got two of these wrapped packages, and wrapped the other loaf and placed it in the freezer for later consumption.

Even for beginner bread makers this recipe is pretty simple, easy, and very easy to adapt to make other types of bread.

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