I almost never tear recipes out of magazines, but leafing through Saveur on the 8 a.m. Houston to Cleveland flight, this recipe caught me because I’d been wanting a soft, comfort-food, James-friendly dinner roll, the kind of Parker House roll that’s slightly sweet and yeasty and soft as a pillow.
There really are no new recipes, only adaptations of adaptations.
What I don’t like about any of these recipes is the enormous volume of flour measured in cups. I did the Saveur recipe exactly and the dough was very stiff—how could I know if this was the way it was supposed to be since flour by volume is so variable. But the flavor was good and I love cooking the dough in a springform pan, which is brilliant.
So I revised my version, with flour weights and a little extra honey, scales only please (if you must, measure 5 ½ cups AP flour). I found a nest of fricking grain moths in my sesame seeds so I had to throw those out and use poppy seeds instead. Both work well.
This is killer comfort bread if ever there was.
Buttermilk Cluster Rolls
28 ounces/800 grams AP flour (5 ½ cups if your scale is broken but no guarantees!)
20 ounces/570 grams buttermilk, room temp or microwaved for 40 to 60 seconds to take the chill off it
¼ ounce/7 grams (1 package) active dry yeast
½ ounce/14 grams kosher salt (1 tablespoon)
1.5 ounces/40 grams honey (2 tablespoons)
vegetable spray or butter for greasing a springform pan (can use 9-inch cake pan but may be hard to remove rolls)
1 teaspoon poppy seeds (or as desired)
1 tablespoon melted butter, optional (good for photos!)
Combine the flour, buttermilk, yeast, salt and honey in the bowl of a standing mixer. Mix on medium till the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. (See this post on Bread Baking Basics for more info on mixing and rising.)
Cover and let rise till doubled in volume (dough shouldn’t bounce back when you press a finger into it). This will take at least two hours, maybe three or more depending on the temperature of your dough and the temperature of your kitchen.
Turn the dough out onto your counter and give it a good knead. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions (about 4 ounces each). Form each into a tight boule by rolling it on the counter. Spray or butter a springform pan. Fit the boules into it, cover it with a towel and let the dough rise for an hour.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F./190 degres C. Whisk the egg till it’s uniformly yellow.
When the rolls have risen again, brush them with the egg wash, sprinkle them with poppy seeds and bake them for 40 minutes (to an internal temperature of 195-200 degrees F./90-93 degrees C. Let them rest for about 10 minutes before serving.
Serves 12 adults or 4 hungry children. Serve with soft, soft butter. Mmmmm.
I did this recipe but once! Want to test it and take a photo? Email it to me and I’ll post it here or will post a link to your site if you write about it.
Carol Peterman is the first to post her test at her tablefare.com/blog. (Carol has created a cool new type of interlocking spice container worth looking into if your spices are a mess.) Carol, you got some serious rise on those. Judging from the looks of your pan, and the fact that I rushed mine a little and under proofed them (Dad, when are we going to eeeeeat?!), next time I make these, I'm going to scale back the dough to 25 ounces and 18 ounces buttermilk, and make 3.5 ounce rolls. They look gorgeous, Carol, thanks for posting!
I like the way Jan improvised with yogurt and used a cake pan.
And here are Dragana's rolls. I think we can reduce quantity to 25 ounces of flour.
Here's an excellent post and recipe test, with boule shaping video, from Darcie, of Bakin & Bacon. She recommends larger pan. There's been enough comment about the rise that I'm going to scale back the dough to 25 ounces and 18 ounces buttermilk.
Here are Camille's gorgeous results at Croque Camille, kneaded by hand, and I love the rise in the glass bowl so you can see how active the dough is. Her verdict: "this very American recipe can easily be reproduced with French ingredients in a less-than-ideally equipped kitchen." Thanks, Camille.
And Michelle at Le Potage, also had gorgeous results, but she was disappointed by the crumb to crust ratio. She wanted more crust. I think these rolls are all about the crumb, not the crust, but agree that the amount can be reduced.
Steve, from My Favorite Flavors, didn't use a scale but wishes he had! He made the recipe after seeing it on the Saveur site and he also had a stiff dry dough.
And Whine & Dine didn't let her second rise go long enough, and she learned what happens. Second rise is critical for texture.
And just saw this in comments, Bitch & Bake.
And this late entry from Angi at Rice and Wheat. Angi had to leave before the first rise was done so she simply put dough in fridge. This is great. You could make this dough a day ahead and refrgierate till ready to proceed, allowing an hour and a half second rise.
And a note about shaping. I've been wondering why some rolls in pictures look smooth and delicious and others look kind of wrinkly and haggard. This is most likely due to shaping. You can't just cut off a portion of dough, shape it into a ball like a snow ball and bake it. You need to make the interior tight. Watch the vidoe at Bakin & Bacon linked above which is a good demonstration of shaping.