Tender, buttery and fine-grained cloverleaf rolls such as these are ideal for serving with roast chicken or meatloaf.
The dough needs 1 hour and 45 minutes for the first rise and 60 to 75 minutes for the second rise, both at room temperature.
To use the mass of risen, refrigerated dough, form into rolls but lengthen the total second rise of the formed rolls to 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until they are doubled in bulk and puffy.
Alternatively, the risen dough, formed into rolls, placed in the pan and covered with ungreased plastic wrap, can be given its second rise in the refrigerator overnight or for up to 24 hours.
Active dry yeast (rather than a smaller amount of "instant" or "quick-rising" yeast) is used in this recipe for reasons of dough stability and flavor.
Make Ahead: The dough can rise in the refrigerator overnight; compress the dough once during the first 5 hours of refrigeration. Do not freeze the dough.
Servings: 24 rolls
- 4 teaspoons active dry yeast (do not use instant or quick-rising yeast)
- 1/4 teaspoon plus 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup warm water (105 to 110 degrees)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1-tablespoon chunks; plus some softened butter for greasing the proofing bowl and muffin tins; plus about 3 tablespoons butter (optional), melted and cooled, for brushing the just-baked rolls
- 4 cups flour, plus 1/3 cup or more, as needed for the work surface
- 1 teaspoon salt
Combine the yeast, 1/4 teaspoon of the sugar and warm water in a measuring cup. Allow the mixture to stand for 6 to 7 minutes, until the mixture has swollen.
Whisk together the eggs and the 1/3 cup sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk together the buttermilk and baking soda in a separate small cup. Add the buttermilk-baking soda mixture, the yeast mixture and the butter to the egg-sugar mixture, stirring to combine.
Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl, stirring to mix well. Add the egg-yeast mixture and stir to combine with a wooden spoon or paddle.
Dust a work surface with the remaining 1/3 cup flour.
At this point the dough will be dry in some parts and moist in others. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead lightly to bring the dough together; it will be sticky. Sprinkle the work surface with more flour as needed.
Knead the dough for 7 to 8 minutes or until it is smooth and moderately soft, incorporating as much of the flour as needed to achieve that state.
Use butter to liberally grease the inside of a proofing bowl. Transfer the dough to the bowl, turning to coat it all over. Use kitchen scissors to make several cuts in the dough, then cover the bowl tightly with a sheet of plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature for 1 hour and 45 minutes or until the dough has doubled in bulk.
Butter the inside of 24 muffin/cupcake cups (each cup measuring 2 3/4 inches in diameter and 1 3/8 inches deep, with a capacity of 1/2 cup) or two plain or false-bottomed round 8-inch cake pans (3 inches deep).
Divide the dough in half. Cut each half into 12 equal pieces.
To form cloverleaf rolls, cut each of the 12 pieces into 3 equal pieces. Use your hands to roll the pieces into smooth balls; place 3 each in the bottom of a prepared muffin/cupcake cup. Repeat with the remaining half of the dough.
To form pan rolls, simply roll the 12 pieces of dough into smooth balls and place them in the prepared cake pan, arranging 8 balls along the outer ring and 4 in the center. Repeat with the remaining half of the dough.
Cover each pan of rolls loosely with a sheet of lightly buttered plastic wrap. Let the rolls rise at room temperature for 60 to 75 minutes or until they are puffy and have doubled in bulk.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Bake the unwrapped cloverleaf rolls in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes or the pan rolls for 25 minutes, or until set and golden. Cool the rolls in the pans on racks for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the cloverleaf rolls from the pans using the tip of a round-edged flexible knife (as necessary). Remove the pan rolls by inverting the entire "cake" of rolls onto another rack (or lifting out the false bottom, then inverting), and inverting again to cool right side up. (When warm, the rolls are quite tender.) Brush the tops of the still-warm rolls with the melted butter, if desired.
From Washington cookbook author Lisa Yockelson.
Tested by Madonna Lebling and Bonnie S. Benwick.
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