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The following recipe will produce a tender, close-grained, hamburger-type roll, rich with milk and butter. Golden brown outside and cream-colored inside, with just a hint of sweetness, these rolls are the perfect vehicle for peanut butter and jelly, cheese, lunch meat, tuna salad, and just about any other kind of sandwich you can think of. At least once a week, we have a potluck lunch here at King Arthur that can range from lasagna to make-your-own pizza to hot dogs and beans to Salad Day. One of our favorites is Sandwich Day, when everyone brings sandwich fillings or accompaniments, and our King Arthur bakers provide the rolls. The milk and potato help keep them moist, so leftover rolls stay nice and fresh in the breadbox for several days.
2 1/2 teaspoons regular instant yeast or active dry yeast*
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup potato flour OR dried potato flakes
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water (potato water, if you have any saved)
3/4 cup lukewarm milk
3 tablespoons butter, softened or melted
*The recipe directions are written for instant yeast; to use active dry yeast, dissolve it in the potato water first. Also, be aware that your rising times will be longer.
To make dough by hand or mixer: In a large bowl, whisk together the yeast, sugar, salt, flour and potato flakes. Add the water, milk and butter, and beat until smooth. Knead the dough on a lightly oiled surface till it's smooth and supple. Add flour if you must, but the dough will continue to absorb liquid as you knead, so try to knead for 5 minutes or so before adding any additional flour. Remember, the more flour in the dough, the heavier and dryer the rolls will be.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and set the dough aside to rise till doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 3 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.
To make dough in a bread machine: Place all of the ingredients into the pan of your bread machine, program the machine for Manual or Dough, and press Start. Assess the dough about 10 minutes before the end of the second kneading cycle; add additional water or flour as necessary to produce a smooth, supple, somewhat soft dough.
To complete the rolls: Divide the dough into eight pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball, and flatten the balls till they're about 4 inches in diameter, trying to keep the tops of the rolls smooth; the nicer the top looks at this point, the nicer it will turn out to be once it's baked. Drape the rolls with lightly greased plastic wrap, and set them aside to rise till they're very puffy, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Bake the rolls in a preheated 350°F oven for 20 to 22 minutes, or until they're golden brown. Remove them front he oven, set them on a wire rack to cool, and spray them with butter-flavored pan spray, if desired (or brush them with melted butter or margarine). This will give the rolls a soft crust. When the rolls have cooled completely, store them in an airtight container. Yield: 8 rolls.