The Best Soft and Fluffy Honey Dinner Rolls
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Soft & Fluffy Sweet Dinner Rolls — Lightly sweetened from the honey in the dough and brushed with honey-butter prior to baking!! These dinner rolls are made from scratch and are baked to golden brown perfection!
Sweet Dinner Rolls … From Scratch!
There’s something about soft, warm, fresh homemade dinner rolls that makes them nearly impossible to resist. They’re so irresistible that I could happily and easily make a dinner out of dinner rolls.
Until these sweet dinner rolls, I had never made dinner rolls, but they turned out to be the best dinner rolls I’ve ever had. They’re going to be a very tough act to beat and even though my search for the perfect end-all-be-all chocolate chip cookie recipe isn’t over, I think my dinner roll recipe search is.
Rarely does recipe karma strike so perfectly that the first attempt at a recipe is the one I want to live with forever, but in this case, I struck dinner roll gold.
Recipes for dinner rolls are like chocolate chip cookies. There are so many and they all promise to be the best. In chocolate chip cookies, among other variables, the ratios of brown and granulated sugars, butter, flour, baking soda or powder, dough chilling, baking times and temperatures all vary from recipe to recipe.
In dinner rolls, making the dough with water or milk, using butter or oil, including an egg or not, sweetening the dough and to what degree and with sugar or honey, kneading or no-knead recipes, are among the many wild cards.
Before making these, I read dinner roll, honey dinner roll, honey wheat dinner roll, and Parkerhouse dinner roll recipes like it was my job. Having a slightly sweet dinner roll was a priority, and one sweetened with honey was even better.
Honey is used twice in these golden puffballs, both in the dough and it’s brushed on top of the rolls just before baking them using a honey and melted butter mixture.
The resulting rolls are slightly sweet and the flavor of the honey is present and discernible. Sometimes when I bake with honey it gets lost, but not in these. The final sweeps of honey-butter brushed on the rolls before their stint in the oven goes a long way to enhance the overall honey-butter punch.
As a bonus, whatever mixture pools in the bottom of the pan creates a slightly caramelized and chewy honey-butter crust on the base of the rolls. If could pick off just those golden sticky bases from all the rolls in the pan, I would, just like I pick off muffin tops.
I used oil in the dough rather than butter. In my mind, butter-based doughs are reserved for pie crust, brioche, or decadent cinnamon rolls. Even though I wanted a buttery, soft, tender roll, butter wasn’t the way to that goal; oil was.
In doing research about bread-making, I’ve learned that oil keeps bread dough softer and more pliable than butter, much like using oil instead of butter in cakes keeps them moister and more tender, too.
The from scratch dinner rolls are soft, tender, supple, moist and the glorious honey-butter mixture brushed on the rolls before baking provides plenty of buttery flavor. The rolls are light, but not feather-light, and retain enough density for some hearty chewing.
Bread flour, rather than all-purpose flour, is used exclusively, and because of it’s higher gluten and protein content, it creates marvelous chewy texture. It’s always better to chew your food rather than just inhaling it, and these have just the right amount chew-factor; enough so that you don’t mindlessly inhale three in three minutes as is the case with feather light, flaky croissants.
These dinner rolls are every single thing I could ever want in a white dinner roll recipe. Light and fluffy balanced with chewy and hearty. Moist, soft, and tender and the slightly caramelized crust that forms on the base from the honey-butter is dreamy.
They’re generously sized, too. One is probably all you need, but needs and wants can vary when the sweet smell of bread baking has been tantalizing you.
What’s in Sweet Dinner Rolls?
To make this sweet dinner rolls recipe, you’ll need:
- Instant dry yeast
- Canola oil
- Bread flour
- Unsalted butter
How to Make Sweet Dinner Rolls From Scratch
If you’ve never made bread using yeast before, these are not hard at all. The rolls can be made, from start to finish, in about three hours. Making the dough is a snap and it comes together in just minutes, about the same time as it takes to make cookie dough. Using a stand mixer is easier, but making without is completely viable.
After making and kneading the dough, it’s placed in a bowl and allowed to rise for about 90 minutes. Because the dough is made exclusively with white bread flour, and because I used Red Star Platinum yeast, there is almost no way to screw up the rising with this recipe.
In fact, my dough rose so well it almost blew the plastic wrap off the top of my bowl. When canning, the sound of a sealing jar is music to my ears and in bread-making, a big bowl of high rising dough is one of the most beautiful sights ever. Not worrying that the dough didn’t want to rise is a moot point with this recipe.
After the first rise and the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and knead it gently for a minute or two. Then, allow it to rest for 10 minutes, which makes shaping the dough into rolls easier because it gives the gluten a chance to relax a bit.
Then, from the big wad of pillowy dough, form one dozen rolls and place them in a pan and allow them to rise for about 30 minutes. Immediately before baking, brush the rolls with honey-butter and bake for 15 minutes.
They bake up very fast and are baked in a very hot oven because that blast of really hot oven air helps contribute to them rising well, known as oven spring.
Can I Prepare the Rolls in Advance?
Yes, these soft and fluffy dinner rolls can be made in advance! As is the case with most any bread, you can make a batch of the rolls from start to finish, freeze them, and then on the big day or on any day for breakfast, a snack, or to eat with dinner, just pull out one or four or two dozen, and allow them to thaw.
Warming them gently in a low oven immediately prior to serving them gives them that just-baked quality, with zero work on the day-of, which is my kind of recipe for Thanksgiving or on a busy Monday night for dinner. Effortless and stress-free at crunch time keeps the cook, and everyone around her, much happier.
Although I haven’t tried it, I would also venture to guess that after the first rise of 90 minutes, and after the dough has been shaped into rolls and placed in the pan, you could cover the pan and refrigerate it overnight, and bake the rolls off the next morning; a loose interpretation of the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day principles.
Tips for Making the Best Dinner Rolls
For the dough to rise properly, it needs to be in a warm, draft-free environment. Preheating your oven for 1 minute to 400F, then shutting it off (make sure you shut it off!), and quickly sliding the bowl of dough in so the hot air doesn’t escape is one way to create a warm environment.
Because of the high oven temperature in conjunction with the honey and the butter brushed on top of the rolls, they can burn as the baking time draws to a close. I recommend hanging out in the kitchen while these bake because things can change quickly and you don’t want burnt buns.
I am unsure if this recipe can be made in a bread machine as I don’t have one. I suspect the dough could also be baked in loaf pans; I’d use two 9-by-5 inch loaf pans, but I have not tried it.
- 1 cup water, warmed to 120 to 130F for Red Star Platinum yeast (or 105 to 115F for most other yeast, or according to package directions)
- 2 1/4 teaspoons instant dry yeast (one 1/4-ounce packet, I use Red Star Platinum
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup honey
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 3 3/4 cups bread flour King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons honey
Make the dough:
- Add water to a glass measuring cup or microwave-safe bowl and heat on high power to warm it, about 30 seconds. Testing with a thermometer is highly recommended, but if testing with your finger, water should feel warm but not hot.
- To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the water and sprinkle the yeast on top of it. Beat on low speed for about 10 seconds, just to combine; let mixture stand for 10 minutes.
- Add the egg, 1/4 cup honey, oil, salt, and mix until well-combined, about 2 minutes on low to medium-low speed.
- Add 3 cups flour and beat until a sloppy, wet, loose dough forms. Scrape off any dough bits stuck to the paddle, remove the paddle attachment, and put on the dough hook.
- With the dough hook attached, turn mixer on low speed, and slowly sprinkle in remaining 3/4 cup flour. If necessary to obtain soft, smooth, non-sticky dough, sprinkle in the full 1 cup flour that remains (for a total of 4 cups flour, rather than 3 3/4 cups, noting that the more flour used, the denser the finished rolls will be). Knead dough for about 8 minutes. It will be firm, smooth, not sticky, and elastic.
- Turn dough out onto a Silpat Non-Stick Baking Mat or floured work surface and knead dough by hand for 1 to 2 minutes, just to get into the nooks and crannies with your fingers the dough hook may have missed and make sure dough is very smooth and uniform in texture.
- Place mounded ball of dough in a cooking sprayed or lightly greased large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place bowl in a warm place until it has doubled in size, about 2 hours. Tip - Preheating your oven for 1 minute to 400F, then shutting it off (make sure you shut it off), and quickly sliding the bowl in so the hot air doesn't escape is one way to create a warm environment; think 85 or 90F summer day warm environment. A cooler environment simply means dough will take longer to rise.
Shape Into Rolls:
- After dough has risen and doubled, punch it down to release the air bubbles, and turn it out onto a Silpat or floured work surface. Knead for about 1 minute.
- Mound dough into a ball, place it back into the bowl, cover it, and allow it to rest and relax for about 10 minutes, making it easier to shape into rolls.
- Prepare a 9-by-13-inch baking pan by lining it with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
- Place dough on Silpat or floured work surface, and using your hands, roll it into a long cylinder shape, about 12 to 15 inches in length, and it will about 3 to 4 inches in girth.
- Divide the log into 12 uniformly-sized pieces with a dough cutter or sharp knife.
- Roll each piece into a ball, creating surface tension on the top of the ball by stretching the dough over itself a bit and pinch off the bottom, tucking the dough into itself. Place each piece into the prepared pan, seam side down, uniformly spaced, four rows by three. (Dough may also be rolled into just a simple 'plain ball', without pulling on the top surface of dough to create tension and not bothering to pinch off the bottom a bit, but I find they rise better and are fluffier if they're pinched off rather than just round dough globes)
- After all pieces are in the pan, cover it with plastic wrap and allow to dough to rise for about 30 minutes. While dough rises, preheat oven to 400F. A good place for this rise is placing baking pan on the stovetop while oven is preheating for the carryover warmth.
Bake the rolls:
- Prepare honey-butter mixture by melting butter in a microwave-safe bowl on high power, about 1 minute. To the melted butter, add 2 tablespoons honey and stir to combine; set aside.
- After the rolls have risen and before baking, brush tops and sides of dough with the honey-butter mixture, getting into the sides and crevices and with a pastry brush.
- Bake rolls for about 15 minutes or until golden; they bake up very fast and watch them closely so the honey-butter mixture doesn't burn in this very hot oven.
- Allow rolls to cool before serving. Serve with Honey Butter or Cinnamon-Sugar Butter
Yeast: I highly recommend Red Star Platinum Yeast and King Arthur Bread Flour because they gave great results.
Equipment note: The recipe can be made by hand and kneaded by hand, it will just take you a bit longer. I am unsure if this recipe can be made in a bread machine as I don't have one. I suspect the dough could also be baked in loaf pans; I'd use two 9-by-5 inch loaf pans, but I have not tried it.
Make ahead option: The rolls can be made ahead of time, making them from start to finish, freezing the finished rolls, and can be unthawed prior to needing them, and if preferred warming them gently and briefly in a low oven for that just-baked taste is nice. Although I haven't tried it, I would guess that after the first rise of ninety minutes, and after the dough has been shaped into rolls and placed in the pan, you could cover the pan and refrigerate it overnight, and bake the rolls off the next morning.
Storage: Rolls may be stored at room temperature in an airtight container or ziplock bag for up to 4 days. Rolls also freeze very well and can be made from start to finish, cooled, and placed in a freezer-safe airtight container or a ziplock for up to 3 months. When ready to serve, unthaw them and if desired, immediately prior to serving warm them in a low oven (~175 to 200F) for a few minutes and just until warmed.
Recipe adapted from here.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 243Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 21mgSodium: 97mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 1gSugar: 9gProtein: 6g
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