Thanksgiving is this week and while the turkey usually gets all the attention, I think that no special occasion meal is complete without really good dinner rolls. My recipe for fluffy soft and buttery make ahead dinner rolls produces incredibly flavorful ones that are also perfect for a casual dinner or for little slider sandwiches with leftover turkey or meatloaf or any other filling. These rolls have outstanding flavor and texture and can be mixed, shaped, and refrigerated for up to 24 hours so you can serve them hot and fresh to your dinner guests.
You may think the crescent rolls that pop out of a can are convenient and probably just as good, but seriously, that’s like comparing your beautifully planned and executed Thanksgiving meal to a frozen TV dinner.
Potato flour and NIDO dry whole milk are the secret to the amazing flavor and texture of these little pillows of buttery deliciousness and both of them are available at nearly all large grocery stores these days. You’ll find the potato flour with other gluten-free flours in the baking section and NIDO dry milk is usually displayed with other dried and canned milks and/or in the Mexican foods section. Be sure to get the NIDO Fortificada, not the NIDO Kinder, which is meant to be used as formula for toddlers.
We use 1% milk for drinking but for baking and cooking I prefer the results I get using whole milk. I seldom have whole fluid milk in the refrigerator, so I always have NIDO in our freezer. For every cup of milk called for in a recipe, I mix 1/4 cup of NIDO with the dry ingredients and add 1 cup of water to the wet ingredients to get exactly the same excellent results that I get with whole fluid milk.
The NIDO helps achieve the gorgeous color and beautiful rise of the rolls, and the combination of NIDO and potato flour produce excellent flavor and keep the rolls fresh longer. You can add a couple of tablespoons of each of those two ingredients to any yeast recipe for sandwich loaves or rolls when you want fluffy, tender results with longer shelf life.
Mix all the dry ingredients (except for 1/2 cup of all purpose flour) with the water and fluid milk, then cover the dough and give it a 20 minute rest. Holding back the salt gives the yeast time to strengthen and holding back on the butter gives the gluten time to develop.
After the rest, sprinkle the salt over the dough and knead it in, then add the soft butter and the last 1/2 cup of flour and knead the dough for 7 to 10 minutes. You’ll find the final dough is easier to work with and produces a better baked product.
This will be a very soft dough, so use your bowl scraper if necessary to get the dough out of the bowl, but please do resist adding more flour.
The dough only takes about half an hour to double, then you can punch it down and shape it into 16 balls and put them into two 8″ cake pans. I like to use my kitchen scale to weigh the dough for uniform sized rolls that bake evenly.
This dough is really lovely to work with and form into balls.
Once the rolls are nearly doubled they can be baked as usual at this point. But when you want to serve fresh hot rolls anytime in the next 24 hours, you can cover them with greased plastic wrap or slide each of the pans into a gallon plastic bag (grease the side of the bag that will be over the top of the pan) and set them in the refrigerator.
About 90 minutes before you want to serve them, take the rolls out of the frig and let them sit, lightly covered, at room temperature for 60 minutes or so.
Preheat the oven, then bake them until they’re a beautiful golden brown and they test 190°F to 195°F with an instant read thermometer, which takes about 20 minutes.
Brush melted butter generously over the tops and let them sit in the pan to firm up for a couple of minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack for another couple of minutes before serving them.
Here’s an idea: if you’re attending a potluck at someone else’s house, tell the host that you’d like to bring homemade rolls and ask if you can use the oven at 350°F for about 20 minutes right before dinner. You can have these rolls all ready to go, then pull them out of the refrigerator just before you leave your house. Bring a bread basket and a pretty cloth napkin and you can bake the rolls and serve them in style as you modestly accept multiple compliments for your baking skill.
I’m telling you, these are the fluffiest, softest, buttery-est dinner rolls that you’ll ever serve, and your family and friends will really be impressed.
AND you made them ahead of time, just like the mashed potatoes, cranberries, and sweet potatoes. So you get to sit down with a glass of wine and enjoy the pre-dinner conversation because you’re smart and organized…besides being a really savvy cook.
It’s nearly impossible to resist these fluffy soft and buttery make ahead dinner rolls and they’ll add the perfect touch to your fabulous Thanksgiving dinner.
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Thanks, and bon appetit!
- 3 1/2 cups (14-3/4 oz, 416 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons potato flour
- 3 tablespoons NIDO dry milk
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons regular table salt
- 4 tablespoons (2 oz, 56 grams) soft butter (not melted)
- 3/4 cup (6 fluid ounces) lukewarm water
- 1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) lukewarm milk
- 2 tablespoons (1 oz, 28 grams) melted butter to brush over the baked rolls
- Combine 3 cups of the all-purpose flour, the yeast, potato flour, dry milk, and sugar with the water and fluid milk and mix just until all the dry ingredients are evenly moistened.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel and set aside for 20 minutes.
- Sprinkle the salt over the dough and mix until it's all incorporated, then add the soft butter and sprinkle over the remaining 1/2 cup of flour and mix well.
- Knead for 7 to 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and glossy.
- Place the dough in a lightly greased container, cover and let it rise until it's doubled, about 30 to 45 minutes.
- Gently deflate the dough, and transfer to a lightly greased counter.
- Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces, round each piece into a smooth ball and place 8 rolls in each of two lightly greased or sprayed 8" cake pans.
- Cover the pans, and allow the buns to rise till they're crowded against one another and just about doubled, about 45 to 60 minutes.
- To bake now, preheat the oven to 350°F, then bake the rolls for 18 to 22 minutes, until they're golden brown on top and the center roll registers 190°F on an instant-read thermometer.
- Remove the pans from the oven, and brush the rolls with the melted butter.
- Leave them in the pans for a couple of minutes to firm up a bit, then carefully turn them out of the pan onto a cooling rack to cool a little more.
- Enjoy warm with more butter!
- To make ahead of time, mix the dough, let it rise, then shape the rolls and put them in the pans to rise until they've filled the pans and are touching but aren't quite fully risen.
- Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap, and refrigerate.
- Next day, remove the buns from the refrigerator and let them warm up and finish rising for an hour or so before uncovering and baking as above.
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