Home cooks are often wary of baking bread — there’s a notion that you need a special oven to get bakery-quality results. And the truth is, most home ovens lack two key components that result in the soft, pull-apart interiors and browned, crisped exteriors one wants in dinner rolls: a steam injector, which adds steam to the oven to allow the dough to expand sufficiently as it cooks, a process known as oven-spring; and enough mass, which enables the environment to stay appropriately hot and moist. Here, our friends at ChefSteps adapted a technique, popularized by Jim Lahey at NYC’s Sullivan Street Bakery, that essentially turns a covered heavy cast-iron pot, like those made by Le Creuset or Staub, into a bread oven.
After mixing, proofing and shaping basic dinner-roll dough, ChefSteps bakes its dinner rolls in the covered pot for about 20 minutes. As they cook, the sealed environment of the heavy pot ensures that the rolls bake in the humidity and heat critical for oven-spring. Then, to achieve the golden-brown crust, uncover the pot and let the tops bake until their color deepens. Check out the full recipe and instructional video below.
Servings: About 20 rolls
295 grams whole milk, divided
74 grams butter, salted
50 grams brown sugar
100 grams egg, divided
7 grams active dry yeast
450 grams bread flour
8 grams kosher salt
- Combine 250 grams of milk with butter and sugar in a pot. Heat to 110°F, stirring until melted.
- Pour heated liquid into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add 55 grams of egg, and yeast, and mix on medium speed until incorporated. You can whisk the eggs for easier weighing.
- Sift flour and salt together. On medium speed, gradually incorporate them into the mixture.
- Change stand mixer attachment to dough hook. Mix until the dough is smooth and pulling away from the sides of the bowl, about five minutes.
- Cut dough into 50-gram portions.
- Create a ball with each portion: Fold the corners into the middle, exposing a fresh outer surface. Roll until the ball is smooth.
- Place portioned dough in a lightly greased casserole pan or Dutch oven. Rolls should just barely be touching.
- Cover and let stand at room temperature until doubled in size. It can take one to five hours for the dough to proof, as temperature affects fermentation activity.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Make an egg wash: Whisk equal parts egg and milk, and pass through a strainer. Brush onto rolls. Take care not to puncture or crush the soft rolls.
- Bake covered for 20 minutes, or until the core temperature reaches 190°F.
- Remove cover and continue baking until golden brown, three to five minutes.
- Serve warm.
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