Nothing says "special" quite like a basket of piping hot, fresh-from-the-oven…rolls that came from a can? Huh? Sure, canned breads might make dinner easier, since all you have to do is pop, separate, and bake. But homemade dinner rolls taste much better and can be made without all the preservatives, salt, and hydrogenated oils needed to keep those "convenient" rolls from turning to mush.
Though it may take some extra prep time, this no-knead recipe for homemade dinner rolls can be made well in advance so that all you need to do before dinner is pop them out of the fridge and stick them in the oven. And you can use organic ingredients.
Nickel Pinching No-Knead Potato Rolls
Makes 24 dinner rolls or 12 to 18 sandwich-sized rolls
1 medium baking potato
½ cup olive oil or melted butter
2 cups lukewarm water
2 cups unbleached white flour
4 cups whole wheat flour
3 Tablespoons vital wheat gluten
1½ Tablespoons (two average packets) granulated yeast (NOT instant)
1 Tablespoon sea salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons chopped, fresh rosemary (optional)
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh or 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
1 teaspoon coarse salt or 1 teaspoon sesame or poppy seeds
Bake or microwave your peeled potato until soft, and push the flesh through a ricer or sieve to create smooth "mashed" potatoes. Beat the two eggs and combine with the prepared potato and the other wet ingredients.
Combine all the dry ingredients in a large container with a loose-fitting lid. Dump the wet ingredients into the dry, and stir until mixed. If it is too stiff for your spoon, wet your hands and finish mixing with them. Don't knead it. Just mix until no dry flour remains.
Cover the container and let the dough rise then fall for a few hours. Two hours may be long enough if your kitchen is warm, but don't sweat the exact time; I often mix the dough in the morning and leave it on the counter until I get home from work in the evening.
If you just can't wait, you can bake some or all of your rolls right away. They may have a slightly yeasty flavor, but they will still be very tasty. I personally think, though, the rolls taste better after at least a day of mellowing in the refrigerator.
Easy Homemade Bread
To Serve Them the Next Day
After the dough has risen and fallen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut it into roughly equal pieces and shape each into a round ball. Dust dough and hands lightly with flour as needed to prevent sticking. You don't need to use all your dough if you have a small crowd. For eight rolls, you'll use about a third of the dough. Cut off that amount, cover the rest, and store it in the refrigerator.
Form the rolls and place them on a well-greased cookie sheet. If you want soft-sided, break-apart rolls, put them about 1 inch apart. For crusty, individual rolls, place them about 2 inches apart.
To make the glaze, beat the egg and brush it on the exposed surfaces. This step is optional, but it will help your rolls turn a lovely glossy brown during baking. Sprinkle the wet rolls lightly with herbs, salt, or seeds if desired.
Cover the pan with a clean, moist tea towel and set it aside for about 30 minutes to let the shaped rolls rise. Once they do, cover them tightly, and put the entire baking pan in the fridge.
The next day, take the pan out 45 minutes before serving time. Put the pan with the rolls on the shelf in the middle of the oven and place an empty metal baking pan on the bottom shelf. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Once the oven is hot, place your rolls on the middle shelf then pour a cup of hot water into the empty pan on the lower shelf. Shut the door quickly to trap in the steam. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown and firm.