Many years ago I was in Key West sitting by a pool reading a magazine when I came across a recipe for French Rolls. When I got home I tried them a few times and then made them for our family Thanksgiving dinner. From that moment forward, by popular demand, I make them for every family event as well as many other occasions. They are a hit with family and friends.
These are a crusty roll with a soft center.
The ingredients for this recipe:
- 5 teaspoons (2 packages) active dry yeast( If you use rapid rise, use 1 ½ packs)
- 2 1/2 cups warm water
- 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1 tablespoon salt
To coat pan for baking:
- 2 tablespoons cornmeal
These are much easier to make if you have a stand mixer such as a KitchenAid.
Make the dough: In a large mixing bowl, sprinkle yeast over water and let stand 5 minutes in a warm place.
Add 4 cups flour and salt to the yeast mixture. Beat with the paddle of an electric mixer or mix by hand until a soft dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl forms-about 10 minutes.
Let the dough rest 10 minutes. With a dough hook and the mixer running, add remaining flour and knead another 10 to 15 minutes. The dough should form a ball on the end of the dough hook.
Form the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl, turning to coat all sides of dough. Cover with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise in a warm place away from drafts until doubled in bulk-up to 2 or more hours. Punch down the risen dough and re-form into a ball. Cover and allow to rise again until doubled in size-about 2 hours. My oven has a proof feature that allows me to speed things up a little if needed. The oven is heated to 100 degrees, if you don’t have this features you could heat your oven to the lowest temperature and then turn it off.
Place a pan filled with hot water on the floor of the oven or on the lowest rack. Preheat the oven to 4500F.
Form the rolls: On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into 16 equal pieces. Form each piece into an oblong shape and place on a baking pan lightly dusted with cornmeal (you could also line pan with a sheet of parchment paper). Loosely cover and let rolls rise for 30 minutes.
Here is a little video to help you with forming the rolls:
Bake the rolls: Slide the baking sheet into the upper third of the oven and bake until dark golden brown-about 25 minutes.
Transfer the rolls to a wire rack and allow to cool 10 minutes.
Store in an airtight container for up to two days or freeze for up to 1 month.
If you use rapid rise yeast you will not need to let the yeast sit 5 minutes, just mix everything together and beat with paddle for 10 minutes.
For a softer crust do not use the water bath. The rolls will still be hard on the outside, but will soften as they cool.
If I am making rolls for a big event, I will bake and freeze them. The day I need them I will let them thaw for about an hour. I will then heat the oven with the steam bath and bake them for about 10 minutes.
If baking for my husband and me to use, I will bake and separate them before freezing. Then when we want them I will just warm them in the oven or toast them. They are delicious toasted.
I hope you and your family enjoy these,
PS. Want to turn these rolls into multi-grain rolls simply substitute 1/2 – 3/4 cups each of King Author’s Harvest Grain Blend and Cracked Wheat for equal amounts of flour. I add these to the first step. We love these more than the regular French rolls and feel like we are eating something good for us.