Makes 16 servings
1 cup milk (not skim)
2 tablespoons butter, cut in small pieces
2 tablespoons oil
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3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast (see note)
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
3 cup instant potato flakes
1 tablespoon butter, melted, if making fan tans
Sesame seeds, poppy seeds or coarse salt, if desired
1. Heat the milk in a small saucepan over low heat until you can just comfortably swirl your fingertip in the milk. Remove from heat and add butter and oil. Set aside.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine flour (fluff it up before spooning into a measuring cup, then level with a knife), yeast, salt, brown sugar and potato flakes. Using a mixer or by hand, stir in the milk mixture, beating until the dough comes together and “cleans” the sides of the bowl.
3. Scrape dough onto a very lightly floured countertop and knead by stretching half the ball of dough away from you, then folding it back upon itself. Give the dough a quarter-turn and repeat, stretching, folding and turning until the dough becomes smooth and springy, about 4 to 5 minutes. Try not to add any additional flour as that will make your rolls tough. If necessary, dust only your hands with flour. Place dough in a bowl sprayed with cooking spray, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for an hour; the dough will look puffy.
4. Shape rolls as directed below, cover with a light cloth and let rise about 45 minutes until puffy.
5. For a glossy crust, brush with 1 egg beaten with a teaspoon of water.
6. Sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds, or a few grains of coarse salt, if desired. Bake on the middle rack of a preheated 350 degree oven for 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on wire rack.
Note: Instant yeast may be called rapid-rise or bread machine yeast.
(Baked rolls may be frozen, then thawed at room temperature. Reheat in a foil-covered pan for 15 minutes at 300 degrees.)
To make various shapes
Cloverleafs: Divide the dough into 16 pieces. Divide each piece into thirds. Roll each piece into a small ball, then place 3 balls in each cup of lightly oiled muffin pans. (Pour some water into any empty cups before baking.)
Fan tans: Divide dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll one half into a 10-inch square. With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut dough into 4 equal strips. Brush each strip with butter, then stack them. With a sharp knife, cut stack into 8 equal pieces, then place each piece on edge in each cup of lightly oiled muffin pans. Repeat with remaining dough.
Crescents: Divide dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll one half into a 10-inch circle. Cut into 8 wedges. Starting at the widest end, roll up each piece, taking care to tuck the “tail” under when placing it on a baking sheet lightly oiled or covered with parchment paper.
Knots: Divide dough into 16 pieces. Roll each piece into a 10-inch strand. Make a loop halfway up the strand, bringing the “tail” up through the hole. Bring the other end over the loop and tuck it inside the knot. Place on baking sheet lightly oiled or covered with parchment paper.
Snails: Divide dough into 16 pieces. Roll each piece into a 10-inch strand. Wind up the strand to form a spiral, tucking under the outside end. Place on baking sheet lightly oiled or covered with parchment paper.