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Cloverleaf Dinner Rolls

Dana Harris and Martha Holmberg

Yield: Yields 12 dinner rolls.

This recipe makes a soft and buttery dough and is easily doubled.


  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (100° to 110°F)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 6 Tbs. butter
  • 1 lb. (3-1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbs. butter, melted (for shaping)

For the egg glaze:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 Tbs. milk
  • Pinch sugar


Making the dough:

  • Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Add a pinch of the sugar. Stir and let the mixture sit until it’s foamy, about 5 min. (If the mixture doesn’t foam, the yeast may be inactive. Throw out the mixture and begin again with new yeast.)
  • Heat the milk and butter just until the butter melts. Let the mixture cool until it’s tepid.
  • Measure the flour into a large bowl and make a well in the center. Pour in the tepid milk and the yeast mixture. Add the rest of the sugar and the oil, egg, and salt. Mix the ingredients thoroughly, gradually drawing in the flour to form a soft dough. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface.
  • (For a variation, make whole-wheat rolls with orange and coriander. Orange zest makes these rolls particularly fragrant, and the whole-wheat flour gives the rolls a pleasantly hearty flavor. Use the recipe above, but substitute 1/2 cup of whole-wheat flour for 1/2 cup of the white flour. After the salt is added, add the grated zest of 1 orange and 1/2 tsp. ground coriander. Proceed with the remainder of the recipe as written.)

Knead the dough:

  • Push the dough away from you with the heels of your hands, then fold the dough over itself and give it a quarter turn. Repeat this pushing, folding, and turning, adding only enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the table, until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 min. The dough will be softer than ordinary bread dough. Put the dough in a greased bowl and then turn the dough over so the greased side faces up. Press plastic wrap onto the surface of the dough and leave it to rise until doubled in volume, 45 min. to 1 hour. Gently punch down the dough and then let it rest for 5 min. before shaping.

Shape the rolls:

  • Lightly butter a standard 12-portion muffin tin. With your hands, roll the dough into a long cylinder about 18 in. long. Use a dough cutter to divide this in half and then cut each half into six equal portions. Divide each of these 12 portions into three sections for a total of 36 pieces. Each piece should be approximately the same size.
  • With your palms, lightly roll each piece of dough into a smooth ball. Cluster three balls of dough in each cup of the muffin tin. Brush with a little melted butter. Allow to rise for 40 to 50 min., or until doubled in volume.

    Cluster three balls of dough in each cup of the muffin tin.

Brush rolls with egg glaze:

  • This glaze gives the rolls a golden sheen. Beat glaze ingredients together. Brush the glaze on the rolls just before baking.

Baking the rolls:

  • Heat the oven to 375°F. Bake for 12 to 15 min. The rolls will be evenly colored when done and should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Serve them at once.


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