Extra Fluffy Dinner Rolls
For extra fluffy dinner rolls I'm relying on a technique used to make Japanese milk bread, the creation of a tangzhong which creates that super soft texture, and helps extend shelf life. I combined the recipe for this super soft bread to that of my go to dinner rolls - Parker House Rolls, and met them somewhere in the middle. While I personally have not tested it, I'm pretty confident that these rolls can be made over two days if desired, either the first or second rise can be done overnight in the fridge and then shaped or baked in the morning.
Extra Fluffy Dinner Rolls
Adapted from Cynthia Chen McTernan via Food52
Makes on 8"x8", or 9" cake pan worth of dinner rolls, or anywhere from 9-16 rolls.
6 tbsp water
2 tbsp AP flour
1/2 cup of warm milk (95-110F)
1.5 tsp of instant or active yeast (about half an envelope)
1 tbsp sugar
2.5 cups of AP or bread flour (about 315g) and up to 1/4 cup more for dusting
1 tsp of kosher or fine sea salt
2 tbsp melted butter
1 large room temperature egg*
optional 1 tbsp powdered milk or malted milk powder
Egg Wash (optional): one large egg beaten with 1 tbsp of water or milk
*I think you could make this egg free if you wanted too! Just add an extra tbsp of melted butter (think of that as your yolk) and 2 tbsp (about 30g) of milk or water (for the white). Parker house rolls don't typically have the egg and have a bit more butter, so this substitution should work just fine.
In a small saucepan or frying pan combine flour 2 tbsp of flour and 6 tbsp of water. Cook over medium/high heat, stirring to remove lumps, until mixture is thick enough that a line appears when a spoon or spatula is dragged along the bottom. Turn of heat and continue to stir for another 30-60 seconds. Then set aside and allow to cool.
Melt butter and allow it to cool. Warm milk on the stove or in the microwave, it should be just warm to the touch and stir in yeast and sugar. Set aside for 5-10 minutes, mixture should get foamy, if not your yeast may no longer be alive.
Combine flour, salt, and powdered milk (if using). Stir until combined, and make a well in the center. Add the milk and yeast mixture to the center, along with the tangzhong, melted butter and egg. Stir to combine, then begin incorporating the flour. When dough is too stiff to stir, turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 5-10 minutes, or until dough bounces back when lightly touched. Dust with flour as needed, dough should be soft, but not too sticky. Lightly grease the inside of a medium bowl, then return the dough, cover, and allow it to rise for 1-2 hours, until doubled or overnight in the fridge. If doing an extended rise don't seal it too tightly, it can cause an alcohol/ferment-y taste in your dough.
This dough can also be made in a stand mixer with a dough hook. Add all of the ingredients, including the extra 1/4c of flour, then mix on for 5-10 minutes. Lightly flour your table, turn it out and work into a ball, then return to a clean lightly greased bowl and allow it to rise.
After your dough has risen prepare your baking vessel. Grease or line it with parchment, then divide it into the number of dinner rolls you'd prefer. I tested these with 16 dinner rolls, but want to try them again with a smaller number (9!) do a little math to decide what number works best for you and your baking dish of choice.
If weighing your dough to divide it, do so now - I take it out of the bowl, place the bowl on the scale, zero it, then weigh the dough in the bowl, divide this number by the number of rolls you want to find out how much each should weigh. For example, my dough weighed about 650g, for 16 rolls they had to be 40g each. If not weighing your dough, thats okay too! Your rolls just might have some more variation in size. Either way, use a lightly greased bench scraper or a knife to divide the dough into the number of sections you desire. Weigh each section and adjust the pieces as needed.
To shape each roll, flatten the piece into a long rectangle. Fold it into thirds, set it aside, and continue shaping each piece into a little rectangular envelope. Try to organize them so that the one you started with is on one end, and the last one is on the other. Once each piece has been pre-shaped the final shaping begins. This shaping is what gives these rolls their exceptional tear away crumb.
Working with the dough so the open ends of the fold are at the top and bottom, use a rolling pin to roll it out flat, about 1/4" thick, then roll it up into a spiral. Repeat with the remaining dough pieces until you have 9-16 spirals of dough. Arrange buns seam side down in your baking dish. It is okay if they're not touching, they'll rise into each other, and even expand more when they bake.
Cover the baking dish and let dough rise 30-60 minutes, until dough is fluffy and full, and doesn't spring back when poked. Preheat the oven to 350F. When dough has risen lightly brush on an egg wash, melted butter or cream on top of the risen rolls. Top with flaky sea salt if desired then bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the internal temp is around 185F+ and the tops are deep golden brown.
Remove from the oven and allow rolls to cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes or so, then remove from the pan and enjoy. Rolls will stay fresher if torn apart just before serving, so try to resist pulling one off before dinner if you can! Top with additional melted butter if desired.
These rolls stay pretty fluffy when kept whole, but once that soft side is exposed they'll begin to dry out! Cover with a loose cloth if serving later in the day, or once they're completely cool store in an airtight container or bag.
Can you see the spiral in this dinner roll pictured!?