How to Bake: Dinner Rolls

Nothing makes a dinner special quite like dinner rolls.  You can make dinner rolls from your favorite bread mix or recipe though rolls are usually a bit sweeter and richer with more butter and milk products. 

There is probably no bread product that allows you to be more creative than dinner rolls.  You can make them plain or fancy, and if fancy, into a multitude of shapes.  You can wash them to give them an attractive glaze or you can top them with seeds or grains.  Today we'll show you how to make several of these shapes.

We'll use our Sunday Dinner Roll mix though you can use any mix or recipe of your choosing.  (We have several dinner and sandwich roll mixes.  (Click here to see your choices.  Click here to see rolls sized especially for bread machines.)

Let's begin with a simple round shape. 

After the dough has risen, use a sharp knife (rather than tearing) to divide the dough into the chosen number of pieces.  A piece the size of a golf ball or small egg will make a nice-sized roll.  If you are using a scale, about 1.5 ounces makes a popular-sized roll. 

To form round rolls, some people simply roll the dough pieces between their palms.  We prefer to pull the skin around the center and pinch the seams together on the bottom to form a taut skin.

Place the rolls about 1 1/2 inches apart on a greased pan, cover, and let them rise again until doubled.  When the dough has risen fully, a finger pressed softly into dough should leave an indentation.

Cloverleaf rolls are made by rolling three equally-sized rolls in butter and then placing them in a muffin tin.  

Traditionally, parker house rolls were made this same way only with a rich dough.  Parker house rolls are also made in a folded shape as follows: Roll balls of dough as in round rolls.  Press them flat into 1/4-inch thick disks then brush the tops with butter.  Fold them in half as shown in the picture and let them rise until doubled.  (To see our Classic Parker House Roll Mixes, click here.) 

Now let's look at making Kaiser rolls or dinner rolls in a rosette shape.  Kaiser rolls are a New York favorite, typically made larger than dinner rolls and used for sandwiches, but you can use the rosette shape to make fancy dinner rolls. 

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First, roll the dough under your palms into long sticks as shown in the figure at the right.  (Step 1)  Then make a single overhand knot in the center of the dough.  (Step 2)  Take one of the tailing ends and tuck it around and back through as shown.  (Step 3)  Take the other end and go around and up through.  (Step 4)  It's harder to explain than to do.  After a couple tries, you'll have the process down and be able to turn these rolls out quickly.  After they are formed, let them rise until doubled. 

In addition to the shapes shown here, you can make twists, overhand knots, or any other shape that you desire. 

Often, you will want to glaze the tops of your rolls for a glossy finish.  For a bronze glaze, use an egg yolk.  For a clear glaze, use only the white.  For something in between, use the entire egg.  To make the glaze, whisk up to one tablespoon of water with the egg.  Brush the tops of the rolls with the glaze just before baking.  If you would like, you can sprinkle the tops with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or rolled oats after glazing.  Tip the pan from side to side to sprinkle seeds on the sides.  The egg will hold the seeds in place. 

If you do not glaze your rolls, consider brushing them with melted butter just after they come from the oven.  The result will be a soft, buttery crust.

Soft dinner rolls freeze well.  Simply put the extras in a plastic bag and freeze for up to two months. 

Our choice?  We must confess: we usually make round rolls—though for guests, we often make fancy rolls.  We also make a lot of hamburger buns.  We much prefer hamburgers on homemade buns and we use the extras for sandwich rolls.   (If you would like to know how to make hamburger buns or buy mixes designed for hamburger buns, click here.) 

One final note—dinner rolls make a great project with the kids.  They love to get their hands in the dough and make their very own shapes.   

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