When I was in high school, my friends and I used to gorge ourselves on frozen Sister Schubert's Parker House yeast rolls. The rolls are defiantly rich and yeasty with a soft, tender texture begging to be pulled apart into pieces and slathered with more butter. They're a far cry from the kind of wholesome, naturally leavened bread I usually seek out, yet there is something deeply satisfying about the simple pureness of a good yeast roll.
Kelsey Nixon's rapid rolls in her new cookbook, Kitchen Confidence, offer that same satisfaction. Her rolls are intended to be a short-cut of sorts. By adding a ton of yeast to the dough (along with a good bit of honey and butter), Nixon creates a roll that can be made, start-to-finish, in the time between getting home from work and sitting down for dinner. There's no bulk rising time; simply knead the dough, shape it, and let the rolls proof a bit before popping them in the oven. Like Sister Schubert's rolls, Nixon's yeasty creations are not particularly complex. However, their texture is still luxuriously soft and pillowy, and their flavor deeply buttery. Plus, these rolls make it easy to serve fresh-baked bread on command.
Why I picked this recipe: I was skeptical that yeast dough could be prepared this quickly, and had to try it for myself.
What worked: These rolls were indeed rapid, fully proofing (as written) in only 20 minutes. Their flavor is yeast forward, but well matched by sweet buttery richness.
What didn't: The directions suffered from a serious underestimation of the kneading time required for the dough. I kneaded the dough for close to 10 minutes on medium speed before it was ready to shape.
Suggested tweaks: You could cut this recipe in half if you're not keen on baking 24 dinner rolls. You'll need about 3 1/3 teaspoons of yeast. The baked rolls also freeze well; reheat them in a 375 degree oven straight from the freezer.
About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, KQED's Bay Area Bites, and Berkeleyside NOSH. She blogs at Cooking Wolves. Follow her @KateHWiliams.