Thursday, September 20, 2012

Simple Yeast Rolls

These were the first homemade rolls I ever made.  I forget where I got the recipe, but it seemed easy enough- no kneading, and no special equipment.  Just this intimidating ingredient called... yeast!
Yeast is not hard to use, you just have to remember a few things about it.  There are two different kinds- regular (called active dry yeast) and instant, a.k.a. rapid rise.  I always use the rapid rise kind; it's less finicky.  It can be added directly to the rest of the ingredients, whereas regular/active dry yeast must first be "proofed" by adding it to warm water and letting it sit for a few minutes.  This is the kind I normally buy (it's a 1 pound package):

 The other thing to remember about yeast is that since it is an actual living organism, it will die if added to liquid that is too hot.  You want the liquid warm enough to help activate the yeast (if the water is cold, the dough will rise very slowly) but not too hot- around 120-130º is ideal.  If you don't have a thermometer, that temperature feels very warm but not hot.

Now I bake with yeast all the time.  I make bread, breadsticks, pizza dough, cinnamon rolls, artisan-type bread, you name it!  If you have any yeast questions, just ask!  I'm pretty comfortable working with it.

After stirring the dough, it's a sticky mess, but that's okay!  Just cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes.


Cutting the dough into 12 pieces


The dough has been rolled into balls; now they are sitting on the parchment, ready for the 2nd rise


Simple Yeast Rolls
Printable version here

2/3 cup water
3 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 small package instant yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
1 egg, beaten
2 cups flour (such as 1 c. each white & wheat)

1. In a medium mixing bowl, microwave water until it boils.  Add butter, sugar, and salt, and whisk to combine.  When butter has melted and mixture has cooled slightly (to around 120º), add yeast and egg; stir. 

2. Add flour to mixture and stir until combined.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap.  Let rise in a warm place* (or on countertop) for 30 minutes.  Roll out dough in a circle on a floured surface.  Cut into 12 wedges, and roll into balls.  (If dough is too sticky to handle, sprinkle a little more flour on it.) Place on a greased (or parchment-lined) baking sheet.  Spray a piece of plastic wrap with nonstick spray and loosely cover the dough with it.  Let rise another 30 minutes.  While rising, preheat oven to 400º.

3. Bake for 11-12 minutes or until lightly browned.  If desired, rub butter over the top of baked rolls.

* One way to make a warm rising spot is to turn on your oven for 1-2 minutes, then turn it off.  Let the dough rise in here.

Note- it takes about 1 hour 40 minutes to make these, start to finish.

Why I love it? It is a good way to practice working with yeast- it doesn't require the kneading that most yeast recipes require.  The ingredients are simple, and I like that there are no preservatives or any other strange ingredients in it.  We like having these with dinner, and the next day they're still good for things like making little sandwiches. 

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