These are wonderful, soft rolls without a name—so I’ve called them exactly what they are. You will find them all over the South, particularly at buffet restaurants where they’re placed on your table. This is done, presumably, to fill you up—but I sure don’t mind getting filled up with these puffy clouds. They are traditionally served with an individual crock of honey butter for each diner so that each diner may dip his or her own puffy roll in fluffy sweet butter. If you prefer to go savory (as I do), you might want to brush the rolls with melted butter just before serving. However you serve them—and they are a great accompaniment to any homey dinner—make sure you serve them warm, and eat them quickly; they’re not very good the next day.
makes about 12 rolls
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup warm water
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons rapid rise or instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
3 large egg yolks
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Place the all-purpose flour, cake flour, sugar, water, milk, yeast, salt, egg yolks, shortening and vanilla in the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment.
2. Mix the ingredients on very low speed until the ingredients are well blended. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high, and mix the dough for 3 minutes more to knead it.
3. Lightly oil a large bowl. Remove the ball of dough from the mixer and place in the oiled bowl. Cover and place in a warm area (such as a turned-off oven) until the dough ball has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
4. Lightly flour a rolling pin and a counter top with extra all-purpose flour. Remove the risen dough to the counter. Using the rolling pin, flatten the dough to expel all the gasses that have developed inside.
5. Using a knife, divide the large dough ball into smaller dough pieces that are each the approximate size of a baseball. You should have about a dozen. Place the pieces on the counter top so that they are not touching each other. Cover them with a damp cloth and let them rest for 10 minutes.
6. Sprinkle another part of the counter top with flour. Dust your hands with flour, as well. Use your hands to shape the dough pieces into a round roll by cupping your palms over the piece of dough and moving them in a circular motion. This will form a ball. Continue until all of the rolls are shaped. Place the shaped rolls on a baking sheet, cover them with plastic wrap, and allow them to double in size.
7. Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees.
8. Place the baking sheet with rolls on the center oven rack, and bake until a golden brown, about 10 minutes. The internal temperature should be 200 degrees. Remove the pan from the oven, and allow the rolls to cool a bit on a wire rack. Serve while still warm, with honey butter if desired (see following recipe.)
Serves 6-8 people
one 12-ounce container of salted whipped butter, at room temperature
Honey, to taste
1. Place the butter in a small mixing bowl. Using a small whisk slowly add the honey one tablespoon at a time to the whipped butter to taste.