French Bread Rolls

from melskitchencafe.com

*Makes about one dozen rolls (see my tutorial on shaping these rolls)

1 1/2 cups warm water

3/4 tablespoon instant yeast (or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast)

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 teaspoon salt

4 cups all-purpose flour, give or take a few tablespoons

In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl by hand, combine the warm water, yeast, sugar, oil, salt and 2 cups of the flour (if you are using active dry yeast instead of instant yeast, let the yeast proof in the warm water and sugar for about 3-5 minutes until it is foamy and bubbly before adding the oil, salt and flour). Begin mixing and continue to add the rest of the flour gradually until the dough has pulled away from the sides of the bowl. Judge the dough not by the amount of flour called for in the recipe but in how the dough feels (see a tutorial on working with yeast here). The dough should be soft and smooth but still slightly tacky to the touch.

Knead the dough in the stand mixer or by hand until it is very smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes in a stand mixer or 8-10 minutes by hand. Lightly spray a large bowl with cooking spray and place the dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl with lightly greased plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until it has doubled (this usually takes about an hour).

Lightly punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly greased countertop. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and form the dough into round balls. Place the rolls on a lightly greased or silpat-lined baking sheet about an inch or two apart. Cover the rolls with lightly greased plastic wrap taking care not to pin the plastic wrap under the baking sheet or else the rolls will flatten while rising. Let the plastic wrap gently hang over the sides of the pan to fully cover the rolls but not press them down. Let the rolls rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 12-14 minutes until lightly browned and cooked through.

*Freezable Option: I almost always make a double or triple batch of these rolls. Once they are baked and cooled, I place them in a zipper-lock freezer bag and put them in the freezer. I either take them out a few hours before I need them or I take them out frozen and microwave them for about 2-3 minutes on 70% power.