There is nothing better than the aroma of fresh baked bread wafting through the house. I don’t bake bread often but when I do the smell alone will be my family running as they wait for the bread to be cool enough to eat. And I have to admit, fresh warm bread turns homemade soup or stew into a real meal. If I’m going to bake bread, a yeasted dough is the only way to go. Yeast breads aren’t difficult to make; in fact, I find them easier than most non-yeasted varieties. Yeasted breads aren’t quick but most of the time it entails to make them is actually hands off.
I have long been a fan of Boston’s Flour Bakery and their buttery brioche recipe is my favorite for both simple loaves of bread and sweet treats. When I was looking for a recipe for savory dinner rolls I found myself coming back to their original brioche recipe. I figured that if their buttery dough was good for sweet breakfast treats it would also serve as the perfect base for savory rolls to accompany soup. And I was right. I added a combination of fresh minced thyme and rosemary to my dough but you could substitute an equal amount. These rolls are best when served warm from the oven but if you must hold them to serve later, briefly reheat them in a hot oven before bringing them to the table.
HERBED BRIOCHE DINNER ROLLS
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups bread flour
3 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons fresh minced thyme
1 tablespoon fresh minced rosemary
1/2 cup cold water
1 cup plus 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 10-12 pieces
- In a stand mixer fitted with the bread hook, combine the all purpose flour, the bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt, herbs, water, and 5 of the eggs.
- Beat on low-speed for 3 to 4 minutes or until all of the ingredients have come together. Stop the mixer as needed to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all of the flour is incorporated into the wet ingredients. Once the dough has come together, beat on low-speed for 3 to 4 minutes. The dough will be very stiff and seem quite dry.
- On low-speed, add the butter one piece at a time, mixing after each addition until it disappears into the dough. Then continue mixing on low-speed for about 10 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. It is important for all of the butter to be mixed thoroughly into the dough. If necessary, stop the mixer occasionally and break up the dough with your hands to help mix in the butter.
- Once the butter is completely incorporated, turn up the speed to medium and beat for another 15 minutes, or until the dough becomes sticky, soft, and somewhat shiny. It will take some time to come together. It will look shaggy and questionable at first and then it will eventually turn smooth and silky. At this point turn the speed to medium-high and beat for about 1 minute. You should hear the dough make a slap-slap-slap sound as it hits the side of the bowl.
- Place the dough in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly onto the surface of the dough. Let the dough proof in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.
When ready to bake:
Line two 12 cup muffin tins with paper lines or lightly grease and flour the tins. Set aside.
Divide the dough in half. On a floured work surface, press half of the dough into a rectangle that is about 10 by 5 inches. The dough will be cold and feel like damp play-dough but it will be easily pliable.
Using a sharp knife or a bench scraper, slice the dough into 10 equal strips, each about 1 by 5 inches. Cut each strip into five 1-inch squares. You should have a total 50 squares. Using your hands, turn each square into a small compact ball. Drop four balls into each of the prepared muffin cups (you will have squares left over). Repeat with the remaining dough.
Cover the muffin pan and place in a warm, draft-free space for 1 1/2-2 hours. The dough should have almost doubled in size and be puffy.
Preheat the oven to 350.
Place the remaining egg and 1 tablespoon of water in a small bowl and beat lightly. Using a pastry brush, brush the egg mixture over the top of each roll.
Bake the rolls, uncovered, for 35 to 45 minutes until they are golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before removing them from the pan.
Yields: 24 rolls