French Bread Rolls

On a whim, I decided that french bread rolls should be served with dinner. There are a number of recipes in my binder for french bread, but wasn't sure if they would work in mini form.  So I visited one of my usual suspect, All Recipes, to find what was waiting for me to find.

I found a recipe called French Bread Rolls to Die For.  Preposition ending aside, it seemed like a good basic recipe.  The name was a bit arrogant, but I hoped it would at minimum be a Roll to Sit Up and Take Notice.

I missed the part about bread flour, and used all-purpose without adding my favorite cheat of wheat gluten.  Wheat gluten is the binding that makes for a chewy bread.  With less than the optimum amount of gluten, the rolls flattened out slightly, and did not have that perfect chewy goodness I like in a normally chewy bread.

However, theHubby ate 2 rolls with his meal.  YoungerSon ate 3, plus  the remaining rolls during the half hour Hubby and I went on a quick errand.   So maybe the rolls are to die for, since that's what I was thinking about when I saw the empty bread plate.  

French Bread Rolls
Slightly adapted from: All Recipes 
Yield: 16 rolls

1 1/2 cups warm water (around 110 F)
1 pkg. active dry yeast
2 Tbl. white sugar
4 cups bread flour, divided
2 Tbl. vegetable oil
1 tsp. salt

In 2 cup measuring cup, stir together warm water, yeast, and sugar. Let stand about 10 minutes, or until it has foamed up like mad.

In a large mixing bowl, place 3 cups of the flour and salt.  Attach a dough hook to the mixer and let it spin the flour around a few seconds to distribute the salt.

Add yeast mixture and oil. Mix at low speed, then add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough has pulled away from the sides of the bowl. Continue to mix at low speed until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Dough will be soft.

Oil a large bowl (tip alert! Oil your hands as well), place the dough in the bowl, and turn (the dough, not you) to coat. Cover with a cloth, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Set aside.

Oil your hands (and keep oil bottle close by). Deflate the dough, and (unlike me) turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.

Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces.  Admire the Graham Kerr bench scraper.  Frown when you realize that soft dough reforms.  Rinse bench scraper, carefully dry it, then replace it back in its box for next time.

A few posts ago I mentioned that I was going to explain how to make perfectly round rolls.  Here is the lesson. By the way, the photos are brought to you today by guest photographer, youngerSon:

Take a piece of dough and roll it around in your hands a little. Then grab the corners along the top (yeah, I know there are no corners on a ball, just humor me a bit). Pull the corners over ...

...and down around the ball ...

... then  pinch corners together on the bottom (YES, there is no bottom on a ball ... I KNOW!).

See? Lovely semi-smooth roll ball. Don’t fret if some of the balls fight you and are a little rough around the edges (don't start with me now ...). As the rolls rise, imperfections will miraculously disappear.

Continue making more rolls, oiling hands as necessary.

Place rolls on prepared baking sheets at least 2 inches apart (the rolls, not the sheets).   Let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes.  Normally, the rolls should be covered during the rise, but I was afraid that the soft dough would stick like mad to a dishtowel, so I took a chance and left them naked.  Didn't seem to affect the rise any.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400F.

See?  I told you they would look better.  Now slide sheets into oven and bake for 15 minutes.  Rotate sheets (sheet on top goes on the bottom rack and vice versa), then continue baking for another 10-15 minutes ...

...or until rolls are a lovely shade of brown. Dump rolls onto a cooling rack.  When no longer hot, transfer to serving dish.

Serve rolls warm or room temperature.  No butter, jam or margarine necessary.


Dena, I'm slightly envious at to how you're able to whip up rolls with such ease :) I generally have poor luck with bread baking which is a shame because I LOVE fresh bread. I may give it another go when I have some time off during the holidays.
PS: Thanks for stopping by my blog. I'm going to give the 246 degrees a try on my next batch of caramels (since I'm officially addicted to 'em) :)

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