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.
Reprinted with permission from Kitchen Confidence: Essential Recipes and Tips That Will Help You Cook Anything by Kelsey Nixon. Copyright 2014. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- 3 (.25-ounce) packets active dry yeast
- 1 3/4 cups warm water (105º to 115ºF)
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for brushing
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
- 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the yeast and warm water. Let stand for 5 minutes until the yeast is bubbly and looks creamy. Turn the mixer on low speed and add the honey. Add the melted butter, eggs, and salt. Slowly add the flour, 1 cup at a time, until it is fully incorporated and the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 3 minutes. Add more flour if the dough is too sticky. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface.
Divide the dough evenly into 24 pieces and roll them into balls. Space 12 rolls about 2 inches apart in a large (12-inch) cast-iron skillet or a 9 × 13-inch baking dish. Repeat with the remaining dough balls in another skillet or baking dish. Keep covered with a clean towel in a warm place and let the rolls rise until doubled in size, about 20 minutes.
Brush the rolls with melted butter. Bake until the tops are golden brown, about 25 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven. Brush the rolls with more melted butter and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Serve warm. (Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.)