Most of the time, Mom didn’t use a special dough to make dinner rolls. Her standard bread recipe made enough dough for four loaves, and she often made only three loaves of bread and a pan of rolls for dinner or a batch of dough gods for an after-school snack for us kids.
You can follow my mother’s example by making a batch of Homestyle White Bread (LINK) to make a loaf of bread and a pan of rolls or just do this. The egg yolk gives these rolls a lovely golden tint and a more tender crumb than Mom’s rolls.
1/2 cup water
2 tsp. active dry yeast (or 1 package)
1 cup milk
1 1/2 T sugar
1 1/2 T butter
1 tsp. salt
1 large egg, divided
3 – 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
As with all bread baking, start by scrubbing your hands well.
Put one-half cup warm water (90º to 110º) in a cup with a quarter teaspoon of sugar and stir in the yeast. While the yeast is proofing, warm the milk to about 110º and pour it into a large bowl. Stir in the salt and sugar. Melt the butter and add it to the milk. Separate the egg and reserve the white. Stir the yolk into the batter.
Stir in the flour one cup at a time, beating thoroughly between additions. After you have stirred in the first cup, mix in the yeast. Continue adding flour one cup at a time until the dough becomes stiff and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
Let the dough rest in the bowl for five minutes, then scrape it out onto a well-floured work surface with a spatula and use the spatula to turn the dough to coat it with flour before starting to knead it. Powder your hands with flour, and knead the dough until it is smooth and satiny, about four to five minutes.
If you have never kneaded dough, you should check out Wikihow.com for an excellent lesson on kneading or go to Thekitchn.com for a good video showing you how to do it. Actually, doing both is a good idea. Just go to the sites and use the search for “knead dough.”
Return the dough to a greased bowl, roll it to cover the surface lightly with grease, and cover the bowl with a damp towel. Put the bowl in a warm spot in the kitchen (I use the top of the refrigerator) and let the dough rise until it has doubled in bulk, usually an hour or a little more.
Butter a nine by thirteen-inch cake pan while the dough is rising. Turn the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured work surface, punch it down and knead it five or six strokes. Pat it down to about an inch thick and use a knife or baker’s scraper to divide the dough into twelve to fifteen pieces.
Roll the pieces into balls about the size of walnuts, put them about an inch apart in the buttered pan and cover them with a damp towel.
Preheat the oven to 350º when the rolls have nearly doubled in size. Beat the reserved egg white with a teaspoon of cold water and paint the tops of the rolls before putting them into the oven. Bake twenty-three to twenty-six minutes until they are lightly browned.
NOTES: These dinner rolls are best eaten warm from the oven. If necessary you can warm them at low power in the microwave for a few seconds.