Cooking with yeast can be an exasperating experience. However, the flip side is it can also help you to create delightfully, warm, soft and delicious dinner rolls that are literally straight out of the oven to the dinner table. With a little patience you can make rolls that look, smell and taste like they came from the finest bakery.
There are a few main tips that need to keep in mind to create wonderful rolls. First, you need to have yeast that is fresh. Old yeast tends to act weakly or not act at all, which won't give you any rising action in your rolls and will leave you with flat, dense rolls that are hard and tasteless. Next, you need to have a draft free, warm place to allow your dough to rise. Without the rising period the rolls remain small and hard. It is essential to have this warm place to let the rolls rise to perfection.
Some smaller tips to help your rolls turn out perfectly will help to set your baking apart. Warm your liquid before adding to the yeast. Make sure it is not hot or it will kill the yeast, too cold and it won't work have a reaction with the yeast.
Don't dump all your flour in at the same time. Add it a little at a time and knead it in thoroughly. A common beginner mistake is overloading the dough with flour. Excess flour will make it harder for the dough to rise and the resulting rolls will be dense and lack flavor. Keep adding flour until the dough stops sticking to the sides of the bowl. Knead this mass for five minutes. If it sticks in your hand, add more flour until it is easily workable. Add enough so that the dough becomes supple and all the lumps disappear.
You may choose between doing a double rise or settle for a single rise depending on how much time you have. To do a double rise, place the dough in a greased bowl, cover it, and put it on a warm place until it doubles in size. Don't rush things by thinking an oven with the lowest setting qualifies for a "warm place" - doing this will bake your dough.
Once it's doubled, punch down the dough. If going for a double rise, repeat the previous process. If you're pressed for time, roll the dough and place it on a surface dusted with flour. You can now cut it into portions and place it on baking pans. Let it rise again for a bit and while preheating the oven. Place them in and bake according to instructions. When done, brush a little butter on top and serve hot. Take pride as you watch guests stuff these delectable treats in their eager mouths.
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