Most Excellent Dinner Rolls

My family loves bread...and I've been making various forms of bread since the monkeys were wee little things. Slice bread, beer bread, mango bread, cinnamon rolls, pizza crust, foccacia, multi-grain, bread sticks, etc etc - and most of it I think I've gotten fairly comfortable with - well, except maybe sandwich bread. The one thing I've been hesitant/cowardly about trying is dinner rolls. For some reason I don't remember watching my Meme make dinner rolls. I remember seeing them rising on top of the fridge but I guess I never got up early enough to catch her making them. I watched her make just about everything else (she never bought a loaf of bread - of any kind - from the store - and refused to use the bread machine she was given years later). And since noone else in my family knew how to make bread, I grew up believing dinner rolls came from a package. That is, until last November.

Last Thanksgiving was the first time we celebrated the holiday on our own - with just our little family. We were invited to join other friends and family but I really wanted, for once, to do our own thing. To cook the food we like, to celebrate in our own way, to create our own traditions - and to continue our healing journey back together. In making this choice (which, unfortunately, also came with a few guilt trips thrown our way, which I kinda understand but don't find helpful or necessary - then again, isn't that what holidays are all about? Not that I'm bitter), I had the opportunity to make the entire Thanksgiving meal on my own (with the help of the man and the monkeys, of course). Even down to the dinner rolls. I decided if I could do everything else (yes, even the stuffing, which wasn't hard BTW, and since we don't eat animals there was no turkey to worry about), I could at least try to make the rolls.

So I got online and found a super easy recipe for herb dinner rolls. Keywords: Super.Easy.

In fact, it's really not much different than making oh, say, pizza dough. There's an extra step allowing time for the rolls to rise a second or third time, which can be tricky (it seems like we're constantly waiting on bread to rise around here - I really need to work on my time management) but really, other than rise times, it's so easy I'm surprised more people aren't talking about it, or doing it. And you can control which herbs you want to use, what kinds of flour you prefer (we used whole wheat) and what format you want to serve them in. We rolled these into little balls then placed them into muffin tins (three balls in each) and let them rise a bit more before baking. I also made this same dough again a few weeks later but rolled them into breadstick form brushed with butter and garlic salt. The kids dipped them in marinara sauce. Most excellent.

Once they're done rising, they are brushed with butter and baked till golden (but don't overcook them!).

The last time I made these fabulous dinner rolls the chatter around the table went something like this: "These are the best rolls I've ever had!"..."Man, these are good!"..."I think we should start a lemonade stand and sell these rolls!"..."I bet we could make lots of money selling these!"..."Wow, these really are good!"..."I can't stop eating them!" (I think that last one was more of a distress call).

They are ridiculously good. And ridiculously easy. There are no excuses for buying processed dinner rolls in a package ever again. Seriously, people. It's not rocket science. If my kids can do it, so can you! Give it a try! You'll be amazed!

Here's the recipe:

Herb Pull Apart Rolls
1 packet active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp)
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup melted butter
2 cups flour (we used whole wheat bread flour)
2 T sugar (we used brown sugar)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp dill
(could also just use rosemary - or whatever herb combinations you like)

Mix yeast and warm water, add sugar till it bubbles. Add melted butter, flour, salt, herbs. Mix until well blended. Add flour in 1/2 cup increments while continuing to mix until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover. Let it rise for about an hour (doubles in size). Punch down the dough. Turn dough out on a floured work surface (slipmats work great for this) and roll into a small disk. Divide into 6 equal pieces, then divide each piece again into 6 equal pieces and roll these into 36 small balls. Put 3 balls into each greased muffin pan and cover and let rise in a warm place another 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 400. Brush rolls with butter and bake 15 minutes. Makes 12 rolls.

Here's a similar online version (with a how-to video) (we felt the recipe needed more herbs so I increased those in my version).

Happy eating!

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