Single-Rise Rolls

Have you ever noticed how sometimes when you're stressed, the simple act of doing something repetitive and easy can be the best possible therapy, even if it makes you slow down in your productivity?

For me, making these rolls was that therapy yesterday. We're having a great summer over here, but it's a busy one: guests coming to visit, projects to finish, a busy season for both of us at work, an impending holiday in California and Mexico, and Scottish sunshine that just begs us to go outside and spend time in it. After a busy weekend that was full of Checking Things Off My List, Sunday night seemed as good a time as any to stock up on some easy breakfast rolls for the week... and the fact that this is basically just a new rendition of these recipes made me sure I could succeed, even if my mind was elsewhere. Because seriously, is there anything more soothing than the smell of bread baking in your own kitchen? (Ok, ok, maybe laying on the beach with a coconut drink in hand, but I can't do that for another few weeks, so for now, it's baking bread in my Scottish kitchen while I listen to the rain fall).

The best part? Not only did I cross another recipe off the list, but I also ended up with breakfast for the week-- for me AND Judson! And on a week that requires all of my concentration just to keep my head above water, anything that makes my day easier is a win in my book. Paired with apricot jam (my current favourite) and a warm slather of salted Irish butter, these rolls are the perfect accompaniment to your morning coffee or tea, and because they're made in a muffin tin, you don't even have to worry about slicing them up. Like I said, this week in my house, we are all about convenience.

This is a Betty Crocker recipe that comes from a wee pamphlet with a half-dozen versions on it, but I'm not complaining about the lack of originality-- it's kind of nice making something that I know how to do for a change (unlike the total unknowns I seem to fall into often in this project). And even if you aren't experienced with bread or yeasted doughs, this is still an easy one. Plus, you don't even need a mixer or a muffin tin to do this recipe right. The dough mixes easily by hand, and the rolls could just as well be dolloped onto a cookie sheet instead of into a muffin tin. And when it's summer in a flat with no air conditioning, the 50-minute rise time flies by, so seriously, why are you not in the kitchen yet?

These rolls will impress you with their simplicity, and since they don't last long (no preservatives in homemade goodies!), you'll be happy you ate an innumerable amount on the day you made them. But if a dozen rolls is too much for you (are we even friends?), it's an easy recipe to cut in half-- just scramble the egg lightly and scoop out two tablespoons of it to divide it in half.

The verdict:

4 spoons out of five. These rolls are delicious, easy, and cheap. You probably already have nearly all of the ingredients in your pantry. But I'm knocking off a spoon because the dough is really sticky and hard to handle, so if you're not careful, it's easy to add too much flour and render them pretty dry.

The Recipe:

Single-Rise Rolls

The directions:

Grease 12 muffin cups.
In large bowl, dissolve yeast in hot water.
Add 1 1/3 c flour and all remaining ingredients.
Stir until only pea-sized lumps remain, about 15 seconds or so.
Stir in remaining flour thoroughly, scraping sides of bowl until mixture is almost smooth (as my mom taught me, you want a few lumps to remain or the rolls won't rise).
Batter will be very sticky, so avoid going at it with your hands; instead, use a large spoon to scoop heaping spoonfuls into the greased muffin tin, then smooth out the tops of each portion.
Let rise in warm place (aka anywhere in my apartment) for 50 minutes.
Batter will rise slightly but not double.
Heat oven to 176C/350F, then bake 20 minutes or until golden brown and firm on top.
Immediately remove from pan and serve warm.

the ingredients:

2 ¼ tbsp active dry yeast
¼ c hottest tap water
2 1/3 c flour, divided
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp baking soda
1 c sour cream*
1 egg
*The recipe actually calls for 'dairy sour cream,' as if there were any other kind. But the more I think about it, the more I want to know if there is another kind, because if so, gross.