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Knotted Dinner Rolls

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Yields 18 rolls

  • by Peter Reinhart from Fine Cooking
    Issue 113

Soft, rich, and worlds better than store-bought, these gorgeous, buttery dinner rolls are easier to make than you may think. In fact, describing how to shape them is more difficult than actually doing it. Look here for step-by-step photos for shaping them or watch our video on shaping and baking these dinner rolls, as well as Cloverleaf, Parker House, and Butterflake, all made with this same dough.

For the dough
  • 1-1/2 cups whole milk; more as needed
  • 1 packet (1/4 oz. or 2-1/4 tsp.) instant or active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil; more as needed
  • 1 oz. (2 Tbs.) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 lb. 7 oz. (5-1/4 cups) unbleached bread flour; more as needed
  • 1-1/4 tsp. table salt or 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
For shaping and baking
  • Vegetable oil spray
  • 1 large egg
  • Poppy or sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
Make the dough

In a small saucepan, heat the milk until lukewarm (about 95°F). Remove from the heat and whisk in the yeast until it dissolves. Add the oil and butter—the butter may begin to melt, but it’s OK if it doesn’t melt completely—and then whisk in the sugar. Let rest until the yeast just begins to float to the surface, about 5 minutes.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl), combine the flour, salt, and egg. Add the yeast mixture and mix on low speed (or with a large spoon) until a coarse ball of dough forms, about 1 minute. Let rest for 5 minutes.

Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook and mix on medium-low speed (or knead by hand on a lightly oiled work surface) until the dough feels soft, supple, and pliable, about 3 minutes; it should feel tacky to the touch, but not sticky, and pull away from your finger when poked instead of sticking to it. If the dough is too sticky, add 1 Tbs. flour at a time, kneading to incorporate. If it’s stiff, knead in 1 Tbs. of milk at a time.

Rub a little vegetable oil on a work surface to create an 8-inch circle and put the dough on this spot. Stretch and fold the dough over itself from all four sides to the center, crimping it where the folded ends meet, to form it into a tight, round ball.

Put the dough seam side down in a lightly oiled bowl that’s twice the size of the dough. Tightly cover with plastic wrap. Let sit at room temperature until doubled in size, about 90 minutes.

Shape the rolls
Tip:
Need help shaping your rolls? Check out our step-by-step guide on how to shape knotted dinner rolls.

Line two 13x18-inch rimmed baking sheets with parchment or nonstick baking liners and lightly mist them with vegetable oil spray.

Using a bench knife, divide the dough into eighteen pieces (about 2-1/4 oz. each).

With your hands, roll one piece into a 12-inch-long rope. If the dough starts to stick, mist your work surface lightly with vegetable oil spray or wipe it with a damp towel. Don’t use flour.

Wrap the dough around your fingers into a loose knot; there should be about 2 inches of dough free at each end. Wrap the left end of the dough up and over the loop. Wrap the right end down and under the loop. Lightly squeeze the two ends of dough together in the center to secure them.

Gently squeeze the whole piece of dough into a nice rounded shape. Put the roll, pretty side up, on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough. Mist the top of the rolls with vegetable oil spray and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

Let the rolls sit at room temperature or refrigerated until they just begin to swell, 30 minutes to 1 hour for room-temperature dough, 1 to 1-1/2 hours for refrigerated dough.

Bake the rolls

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. If using a convection oven, heat it to 375°F; if using a conventional oven, heat it to 400°F.

Thoroughly whisk the egg with 1 Tbs. water and brush all over each roll. Sprinkle poppy or sesame seeds (if using) on the rolls.

While the oven heats, let the rolls continue to rise at room temperature, 20 to 40 minutes. They should be 1-1/2 to 2 times their original size before they go in the oven. (Once in the oven, they will rise about 20 percent more.)

Put the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 6 minutes. Rotate the sheets 180 degrees and swap their placement on the racks. Continue baking until the rolls turn rich golden-brown on top and develop some browning underneath, another 6 to 8 minutes. Let the rolls cool on the sheets or on a cooling rack for 15 minutes before serving.

Make Ahead Tips

You can make the dough up to 4 days ahead. Refrigerate it well wrapped so that it slowly rises to double its size then shape as directed.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 210; Fat (g): 7; Fat Calories (kcal): 60; Saturated Fat (g): 2; Protein (g): 6; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 2.5; Carbohydrates (g): 30; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2; Sodium (mg): 180; Cholesterol (mg): 25; Fiber (g): 1;

Photo: Scott Phillips

I made these twice. Once as written and then modified. Thought it lacked a little flavor as some others had noted. I changed the milk in the recipe to 1 cup buttermilk + 1/2 cup whole milk, upped the sugar to 5 TBSP, upped the salt to 1 1/2 tsp table or 2 1/2 tsp kosher. I also halved the vegetable oil and doubled the butter. I added one egg yolk to the existing egg in the recipe. I only heated the whole milk and then added the yeast, etc to that and then whisked in room temp buttermilk to prevent the buttermilk from curdling. Although, the buttermilk might be fine only being heated to 95 degrees. The extra tablespoon of sugar, the substitution of the buttermilk and the slight salt increase all helped with flavor. And with the exception of the salt, all of those things contributed to a tender crumb. Kept the bread flour because it gives an exceptional rise and a lovely texture. Additional egg yolk added more fat but also gave the interior a pretty golden color. I love Mr. Reinhart and Fine Cooking, I hope they don't mind that I tinkered with their formula.

So easy and so good. Make great sandwich rolls the next day too

These rolls were fun and easy to make. They came out looking great, just like the picture! I was impressed since baking is not my strong suit. However, I wish they had more flavor. They are kinda bland and don't really add much to the meal.

I've been making a similar roll recipe for 40 years but mine uses all purpose flour (bread flour made it too chewy for a dinner roll), a tablespoon or so more sugar and half again as much yeast). After making this recipe as is and shaping it in a simple knot as I usually do, my family has decided (on a blind taste test) it's 'okay' but they prefer the softer roll and commented it had a bit more flavor (probably the sugar). I also don't bother with an egg wash before baking since I don't do seeds. Instead I just brush with butter as soon as they come out of the oven. Beautifully glossy.

The recipe was fairly easy to follow, and the rolls looked great, but they were utterly flavorless. Thankfully, I only made a test batch, so I wasn't serving them to anyone. I tried dipping them in olive oil with Italian seasoning and I tried dipping them in marinara, but they are totally devoid of flavor. Maybe try a better Italian bread recipe and shape that dough into the knotted rolls?

These are fantastic! I've made them a couple of times now and although somewhat labor-intensive, we always eat the whole batch. I used nonfat milk instead of whole because that's what I had on hand and they turned out just fine.

these are fabulous! i've made them twice so far: once with better flour and once with my discount flour. both were really tasty! (and thank goodness cuz i have to use up all this discount flour now.) i make a lot of pastas and pizzas, so this was a nice addition to my repertoire. shared it with my friends as well. thanks for a lovely recipe and great, foolproof instructions.

I thought this was a nice recipe with pretty results. I would say that you need to make sure that one tail is stuck deep in the center. I had a few pop out during the final rise or in the oven. Those ones didn't have as neat of an appearance.

I thought this was a nice recipe with pretty results. I would say that you need to make sure that one tail is stuck deep in the center. I had a few pop out during the final rise or in the oven. Those ones didn't have as neat of an appearance.

As another reviewer said, I am somewhat "baking challenged" with yeast breads. Nevertheless, these turned out beautifully. They are pretty and very tasty and freeze well. Trust me, if I can do it, so can you! =)

Absolutely delicious!

This is my new go-to dinner roll recipe. So easy, buttery and delicious. I've made them twice to have with the Venetian Duck Ragu. Also made cranberry/orange and pomegranate/hazelnut/orange compound butters to go with them.

I can only add to the praise from other reviewers! This recipe is a complete winner, and the step by step photos and tips were invaluable. I let the dough rise one day in the fridge, and went with the longer rise time after shaping them. Did a third plain, third with sesame, third with poppy seeds for variety. Christmas dinner guests all raved about how great they looked and tasted.

I am an experienced and avid baker, albeit "high altitude challenged". Since moving to the mountains 2 years ago most of my baking recipes fail at first attempt. I made these rolls for Thanksgiving and they were absolutely amazing!!!!! I allowed the dough to rise in the refrigerator overnight and Thanksgiving morning my daughter-in-love shaped the rolls and we did the final rising in the "bread proof mode" in my oven. (my house is cold!) Good thing I doubled the recipe!!!! Everyone went crazy and loved them!

I am baking-challenged, especially when it comes to yeast goods. These came out perfectly. I followed the directions exactly and created beautiful, delicious, tender rolls. Read my full review at: http://bit.ly/vxWOzq

Excellent! My daughter did a partial bake then finished baking just before dinner, yum. My daughter loved them the next day sliced in half with left over turkey and cranberry sauce.

We made these for our Thanksgiving dinner and they were great! We will use them again for a holiday party we're hosting next week. I made up the dough on Sunday as the instructions said you could refrigerate it for up to 4 days. The dough rose to its greatest volume after 2 days but started to reduce somewhat by Thursday. We stayed with the 2.25 oz size and made half as the knotted shapes and half as Parker House rolls. Both turned out beautifully but I suspect the baked size may have been a little smaller than others observed.

Superb rolls! I made these for Thanksgiving and the relatives loved them: "melt-in your mouth" and "buttery!". I made 2-oz rolls (instead of the recommended 2.25) to have smaller rolls and they were a great size. The knotting was easy-- Julissa Roberts has a video that makes it simple-- my 1st grader even helped knot some. Also, I baked these in the morning and re-heated them just before serving-- that worked great.

Just great, my family loved them. Recipe easy to follow. A recipe for all levels of bread making.

Just perfection! we all loved.

The instructions were perfect and came out just like the pictures. The next time I make them I think I will reduce the sugar by half if for dinner rolls but if I make them for breakfast rolls I will use the same amount of sugar. I froze them individually in aluminium foil and put them in preheated oven for about 10 to 15 minutes and they were perfect for breakfast.

I tried this recipe tonight and they worked without a hitch. Absolutely delicious. will definitely use this recipe over and over again

I saw these in the September issue of Fine Cooking. The article was so well written with great step by step photos, I had to try them. I've never made yeast bread or rolls before and these were FANTASTIC! My family loved them. They were lighter than I expected and perfectly buttery. I would love to know more about how I might be able to freeze these as the previous reviewer suggested. I wonder how you go about thawing them and if there are any other adjustments you have to make. I also agree they are really big. I think I'd prefer a 24 which would let me make 3 batches of 8 if I can freeze them. There is no way we can eat just one, but two full size rolls is a lot.

Having had the good fortune to attend a baking class taught by Peter Reinhart, I was confident this recipe would be good. But it's more than good, it's awesome! I thought maybe the rolls would be on the heavier side, since it uses bread flour rather than a lower-protein flour like I've used for Italian knot rolls in the past. But they were really soft and flavorful, and seriously easy. One thing I've learned in the past when shaping knotted rolls -- be sure not to roll the ropes of dough out to more than 12". It's easy to accidentally make them longer, which makes it harder to get the pretty knotted shape. (And one thing I'll do when I make these again is to increase the yield per batch to probably 24 instead of 18, and freeze half of them after they're shaped. They were really big. Not a bad thing if you want to maybe use them for sandwiches, but for dinner rolls, I like mine a tad more petite. And I also brushed them with butter right when they came out of the oven.) But even without any changes, it's a fabulous recipe. Thanks Peter!

I made these knotted rolls for dinner guests on Labor Day and they were a huge success. I must admit that I used my bread machine to mix and knead them, but shaping and baking was easy, and the results spectacular!! Thanks for a great "keeper" recipe. By the way, at 2 1/4 oz. the rolls were/are big enough to use for sandwiches as well.

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