*Yeast: this recipe calls for instant yeast which does not have to be “proofed.” Directions for “Active Dry Yeast” are at the bottom of the page.
Measure eight cups flour into a bowl and set aside – you may not use all of this; when making bread the amount of flour depends on a number of things, especially how much moisture is in the flour and measuring habits. I let the dough “tell” me how much I need to add, below.
Mix milk, water, yeast oil and salt together in a heavy bowl or pan. Enameled cast iron works well. Add about three cups of flour, mixing with a heavy spoon. Continue to add flour until the mixture begins to pull away from the side of the bowl. It will still be very wet at this point, and you’ll probably have used about 3 – 4 more cups of the flour.
Place about 1/2 cup of flour on counter or table and scrape dough onto it. With floured hands, begin kneading, adding flour as necessary, but as little as possible. Continue to knead for about 8 minutes.
The dough at first will be shaggy and sticky, but as you work it and add flour, it becomes more manageable and smoother. This dough shouldn’t be “stiff” and hard to work at the end, it should be soft and it will still feel tacky, but shouldn’t stick to your floured hands when you press gently.
Place in an oiled bowl, top side down, turn it in the bowl to top side up, which will lightly coat the dough. Cover with a clean kitchen towel, place in a warm, draft free area, 70 to 75 degrees is ideal and let rise till doubled. (About an hour at 70 degrees.) If your home is cooler, you can preheat your oven to 200 degrees, turn it off, put on the light and place your dough inside.
Without punching down or overly deflating the dough, turn it out onto a floured surface. Divide in half, and then in half again, pressing straight down, not sawing, so you have four quarters. Place three of the dough lumps on a floured surface and cover with a clean kitchen towel.
Take the 4th lump of dough and divide into four equally sized lumps; feel free to weigh if desired. Pick up a lump and pull the cut edges into the center, pinching together tightly.
Place seam side down on a lightly floured surface, cup with hands and lightly push and roll the ball around until it is round in shape.
Lay on a floured surface or tray, cover with a towel, and proceed with the remainder of the dough.
Freeze to bake later:
To prepare for baking:
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Line several sheet trays with parchment.
Let rolls rest for about 15 minutes. During this time, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a very large pan. Measure the water as it will affect density of solution. Take the water off heat and drop in the baking soda and sugar. It will foam wildly! Return to a good simmer, watching to make sure it doesn’t boil over; that makes a huge mess.
Repeat pinching process by holding each ball of dough in one hand and pulling in from the sides – you’ll end up with a “belly button.” Pick up dough ball by the button and gently drop into simmering water.
Dough will float to top, cook for one minute then turn and cook an additional 30 seconds. Remove with slotted spoon, draining well, to parchment lined sheet pan, belly button down. Be careful; they’re slippery. A little moisture is ok.
The rolls will look strange and lumpy; they’ll blossom in the baking process. Slash each ball about 1/4 inch deep with a sharp knife or clean razor blade. The dough will pull a bit, so a sharp knife is key here. A dull one will drag on the dough and may cause your roll to deflate.
Use a criss-cross pattern or a series of three parallel slashes. If they’re very misshapen during the slashing, nudge back in place, but most imperfections will even out during baking.
Sprinkle each with a pinch of salt.
Bake for 20 to 22 minutes until golden brown, turning and rotating the trays. If you’ve made smaller rolls, check them at about 15 minutes.
* If you use Active Dry Yeast you will need to proof it like this: Mix the warm milk, water, yeast and oil together, but add a teaspoon of sugar to the mixture. Mix the salt into the flour rather than into the yeast mixture. Let the yeast mixture sit for about 10 minutes until bubbly and then proceed with the recipe.
Directions for Electric Mixer:
If using a mixer, add about three cups of flour to the bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix milk, water, yeast oil and salt together. Using a paddle, and mixing on low, add the liquid ingredients. Mix until most of the lumps are gone.
Change to a dough hook and continue to add flour, cup by cup, mixing on low until a dough forms and most of the flour has been added. Turn up to medium and knead for about 4 minutes.
Turn out onto a well floured surface and will floured hands, knead several times until desired consistency is reached. (See above.)
Keywords: Bread, Freezes Well, Pretzel, Rolls