Not Your Granny’s Whole Wheat Rolls
1 packet “highly active” active dry yeast, or 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast, or 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast ( I use SAF yeast)
1 cup lukewarm water, divided
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
3 tablespoons honey
1 cup all purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour ( I used King Arthur) white whole wheat flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup instant mashed potato flakes*
1/4 cup dry milkIf you’re using active dry or “highly active” yeast, dissolve it with a pinch of sugar in 1/2 cup of the lukewarm water.
Let the yeast and water sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, until the mixture has bubbled and expanded. If you’re using instant yeast, you can skip this step.
Combine the dissolved yeast with the remainder of the water and the rest of the ingredients. Mix and knead everything together—by hand, mixer or bread machine set on the dough cycle—till you’ve made a smooth dough.
If you’re kneading in a stand mixer, it should take about 5 to 7 minutes at second speed. In a bread machine (or by hand), it should form a smooth ball.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rise, at room temperature, till it’s quite puffy but not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 90 minutes.
Rising may take longer, especially if you’ve kneaded by hand. Give it enough time to become quite puffy. Check the tips below for rising help.
While the dough is rising, lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan, or two 9″ round cake pans.
Gently deflate the dough, and transfer it to a lightly greased work surface. Divide into 16- 24 pieces, depending on if you want larger or smaller rolls.
Shape each piece into a rough ball by pulling the dough into a very small knot at the bottom (think of a balloon with its opening knotted), then rolling it under the palm of your hand into a smooth ball.
Place the rolls in the 9″ x 13″ pan, or put eight rolls in each of the round cake pans, spacing them evenly; so they won’t touch one another.
Cover the pans with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the rolls to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. They’ll become very puffy, and will reach out and touch one another.
While the rolls are rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.
Bake the rolls for 15 minutes, and tent them loosely with aluminum foil.
Continue to bake until they’re mahogany-brown on top, but lighter colored on the sides, an additional 10 to 13 minutes.
Remove the rolls from the oven. Serve warm, or at room temperature.
-I didn’t have instant mashed potato flakes on hand so I used a dried product called potato pearls. Potato pearls need to be dissolved in warm water.
I dissolved the potato pearls in the remaining 1/2 cup of warm water called for in the recipe, then added the rest of the ingredients.
-I learned from Frieda this trick for helping bread to rise. Microwave a cup of water for about 2 minutes. Remove the cup of water and immediately place bowl of dough (covered) into the microwave to rise.
The heat and moisture from the cup of water will create a warm, moist environment perfect for proofing dough.
-Don’t bother heating the orange juice to lukewarm; you can use it straight out of the fridge. The orange juice won’t add its own flavor to the rolls, but will mellow any potential bitterness in the whole wheat.
-Brush hot-from-the-oven rolls with melted butter, if desired, for a soft, buttery crust.
For a shiny crust, whisk together 1 large egg white + 1 tablespoon cold water. Brush on rolls just before baking; sprinkle rolls with quick-cooking oats as a garnish, if desired.