It’s possible I had overly ambitious plans for Christmas Dinner, considering we were traveling cross-country the day before, but it seemed perfectly reasonable at the time: rolls, stuffing, turkey, potatoes, the other things taken care of by other people. It’s also possible I should have chosen a roll recipe that I’d made before. It’s possible I should have drunk my coffee and then started the rolls.* I didn’t though, and thus I made what were beautiful, almost awesome rolls for my mothers-in-law & family for Christmas dinner. Almost awesome even though I forgot the salt.**
Professional kitchen ethos: “Don’t serve anything you’re not proud of.”***
Home dinner party ethos: “Never apologize, never explain.”****
After crying a bit on my spouse’s shoulder over the lost opportunity of making really delicious rolls for Christmas, I went with the second guideline and served the rolls anyway. Next time! they’ll be even better.
Kindred’s Milk Bread Rolls, slightly adapted from Food52
Makes 24-30 rolls
- 5 1/3 cups bread flour, divided
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/3 cup mild honey
- 3 T nonfat dry milk powder
- 2 T active dry yeast
- 2 T kosher salt (don’t forget it!!)
- 3 large eggs, divided
- 4 T (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature, plus more for coating the pans
- Flaky sea salt
- Cook 1/3 cup flour and 1 cup water in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly, until a thick paste forms (almost like a roux but looser), about 5 minutes. Add cream and honey and cook, whisking to blend, until honey dissolves.
- Transfer mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and add milk powder, yeast, kosher salt, 2 eggs, and 5 remaining cups flour. Knead on medium speed until dough is smooth, about 5 minutes. Add butter, a piece at a time, fully incorporating into dough before adding the next piece, until dough is smooth, shiny, and elastic, about 4 minutes.
- Form into a smooth ball and leave in the mixer bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Butter 24 muffin tins. Turn out dough and divide into 6 pieces. Roll each piece into a cylinder, approximately 1 inch in diameter, and cut into 1 inch sections. They don’t need to be exact. Form each section into a ball and place 4 pieces of dough side-by-side in each muffin cup. If you have extra dough and extra muffin tins, make more rolls. If not, just free-form the rest and use them to taste test.
- Let shaped dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size (dough should be just puffing over top of pan), about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 375° F. Beat remaining egg with 1 teaspoon. water in a small bowl to blend. Brush top of dough with egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt, if desired. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until bread is deep golden brown, starting to pull away from the sides of the pan, and is baked through, 17 to 20 minutes for rolls. Let cool slightly in pan on a wire rack before turning out. Serve with a smile.
* The moment when I had both my coffee cup and a cup of flour next to the kneading mixer and, instead of adding a bit more flour when the dough was sticky, I poured in some of my coffee was a good indicator that I wasn’t yet at my Christmas Day best.
** Dear self, you know this one – always, always taste your dough.
*** Quote from Duskie Estes, for whom I had the privilege of working, once upon a time. This idea is also covered really well in what I think of as “the chef speech” in Chef, the movie. I love that movie.
**** Quote which a dear friend of mine attributes to Julia Child (and gently reminds me of every time I apologize at a dinner party). The internet now tells me the actual Julia Child quote is “No matter what happens in the kitchen, never apologize.” That works too.