A post dedicated to all the Seinfeld fans…  😉

Sometimes in a meal a bread grabs the spotlight.  Think about the glory of a rustic sourdough boule beside a bowl of lentil soup, or a slice of pain Poilane beneath a golden cheesy layer of Croque Monsieur.  But during a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner feast the breads accept a more humble place.  Small rolls, soft and unpretentious, are the best choice. This recipe was published in Fine Cooking magazine in 2001, with Abigail Johnson Dodge behind it, which means it is flawless. You can make and shape the dough a day beforehand, place it in the fridge, and bake it while entertaining your guests on even a very busy cooking day.

(Abigail Johnson Dodge, Fine Cooking 2001)

18 oz. (4 cups) all-purpose flour
1 package (2-1/4 tsp.) rapid-rise yeast
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
4 oz. (8 Tbs.) unsalted butter
3 large egg yolks

Place the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in the bowl of your KitchenAid type mixer, mix to combine. Put the bowl in the mixer stand and fit it with the dough hook.

Heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan, stirring gently until the butter melts, and the temperature reaches 115F to 125F. Pour the mixture over the dry ingredients in the bowl, add the egg yolks, and mix with the dough hook in low speed until everything forms a shaggy mass. Increase the speed to medium high and mix/knead for about 8 minutes.

Remove the dough from the bowl, shape it into a ball, grease the bowl lightly with oil, and place the dough back inside, covering with plastic wrap. Let it rise until doubled in size (45 minutes if using rapid-rise yeast, a little longer for other types of yeast).

Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish. Turn the dough onto a clean work surface (no need to flour; the dough is soft but not sticky) and gently press to deflate. Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces, form each into a ball, and place in the pan, with the seam side down.

Cover the pan with plastic and let the dough rise until almost doubled, about 30 min. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375°F. Remove the plastic and bake the rolls until they’re puffed and browned, about 20 min. Serve warm.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: To make  this recipe in advance, cover the rolls with plastic wrap right after shaping and place them in the fridge.  Next day  remove the dish from the fridge, let it sit at room temperature for 2 hours, and then bake the rolls at 375 F.

I brushed the rolls right before baking with an egg wash (1 egg beaten with a couple of teaspoons of water), because I like the shiny look it gives to the bread.  However, you can also bake them without it, as the original recipe suggests.

Warm from the oven, these rolls are perfect to soak up that last bit of gravy on your plate. And they can return the next day sliced in half, for mini-turkey or prime-rib sandwiches, a holiday tradition in many American homes!

If you are hosting a big Christmas or New Year’s Eve dinner, these rolls will be a nice addition to your menu. They are very easy to make – even if you are a rookie bread baker – and absolutely delicious.

I am submitting this post to Yeastspotting.

ONE YEAR AGO: Lebanese Baked Kibbe (one of my favorite recipes ever!)

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    • It is too big a batch to make for just the two of us, so it was nice to have the opportunity to make it for the Thanksgiving dinner with our neighbors. I wonder if they freeze well after baking… now THAT’s a good thing to try ;-0


  1. Huge, huge Seinfeld fan, I had to comment; my husband and I every year make a Festivus celebration, with the pole and all, it’s a lot of fun, sometimes we even have the airing of grievances, LOL!

    I don’t bake bread, but if I ever decide to do it, I promise that this recipe will be my first!

    love your blog, great writing, tasty recipes, lots of variations – I visit many blogs, but get tired of some that seem to post the same kind of recipes all the time. Keep up the great work, Bewitching….


  2. I have made these several times and they are quite good. I use an egg wash (1 egg, 1 egg yolk, 1/4 cup heavy cream) that gives them a nice burnished brown and shiny color. I would think they’d freeze well. Just make sure they are completely cooled first.


      • Let me correct my egg wash post.
        For breads, we used 1 egg, 2 egg yolks, 1/4 cup cream.
        For pastries, we used 1 egg, 1 egg yolk, 1 0z milk.

        The fats brown more and the whites are for shine. Depends on the look you want.

        We made hundreds of soft dinner rolls for the holidays and froze most of them. For service, thaw, then reheat for 10 mins at 350F. Can apply melted butter then if desired.


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