Soft White Dinner Rolls

by Min Merrell
Soft White Dinner Rolls

Soft White Dinner Rolls are as important to the Southern table as biscuits and cornbread.

Alabama’s successful Sister Schubert rolls prove my point. They’ve pretty much hijacked the long tradition of roll baking at home selling millions of frozen pans of handy, good quality rolls sell like mad across the South. Sister Schubert’s are an absolute must for holiday and family dinners and they do it all. Sop up the gravy, slather with butter, and stuff with sliced ham, beef tenderloin, and turkey. The smart Nashville host know to shop for them ahead of holiday rushes. I’ve been in a panic a time or two from not planning ahead.

Soft white dinner rolls are also an important restaurant item here in Nashville. Meat & three restaurants are famous for serving them, like the airy puffs at Barbara’s Home Cooking and Arnold’s and one of the many holiday specialties of Nashville’s sorely missed Becker’s Bakery.  They always taste yeasty and a little sweet. On the home front, many generations of home bakers have elevated them to their kitchen specialty and are absolutely expected to bake them for special occasions.

You can make them yourself at home. This recipe for Soft White Dinner Rolls is a good place to start.

It’s a simple soft dough flavored with butter and a bit of sugar that is very forgiving. You can use either bread flour or all-purpose flour. Make the dough a day or two ahead and keep it in the refrigerator to bake on party day. I usually refrigerate the bowl of dough a day or two before forming the rolls because it’s easier for me to store a bowl than a baking sheet in my fridge. However, you can swap the process and refrigerate the formed rolls and pull them out an hour or two before baking.

The most important thing is to make a soft pliable dough that is easy to work with. Doughs with too much-added flour are stiff and uncooperative. You can shape them any way you like–cloverleaf, Parker House, crescents.

You’ll probably what to bake a ham.  Or maybe a one-hour rump roast to go with your beautiful homemade rolls.

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