thanks, williams-sonoma: sally lunn herbed rolls

by Chen

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The French soleil, lune, “sun, moon,” provides the name for this old English recipe because the top of each roll bakes up as golden as the sun, while the bottom is said to be as pale as a harvest moon. Sally Lunn rolls have been a part of Southern heritage for so long that Southerners claim them as their own. — from Williams-Sonoma

The reason why I am crazy about baking is that the smell of baked goodies is always homey and cozy. From the first and easiest cookie I baked at least four years ago–some one-bowl fruit n’ nut oatmeal cookies–to the yeast bread, the aroma in the air could make my day. Though sometimes I fail (I once forgot to add oil to my oatcakes and they turned out to be like wooden coasters), the more I bake, the easier for me to “see” whether a recipe is what I need.

These rolls meet almost every criterion for a satisfying dinner roll. They are extremely light and fluffy and distinguished from the average dinner rolls by the fresh herbs. The subtle sweetness and saltiness pair well with melted butter. Big, huge, and plus-sized thanks to beloved Williams-Sonoma!

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sally lunn herbed rolls
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma. In addition to halving the recipe, I added honey rather than regular sugar for a floral scent to go with the herbs. I also used a mix of bread flour and AP flour instead of all bread flour and it worked well. All AP flour might be fine too. Plus, the original recipe called for baking individually in the muffin pans while I used an 8*8 pan. Feel free to use anything but do adjust the cooking time accordingly.

Makes 9 rolls in an 8*8 pan

2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm milk
2 tbsp honey
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 cup bread flour
1 cup AP flour
4 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
2 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped

cooking spray or oil to grease the pan
milk for brushing the top

In a small bowl, combine the yeast, warm milk, and honey. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes or until the mixture is frothy.

Whisk together the bread flour and AP flour and set aside. Omit this step if using the same type of flour.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the eggs and salt together until pale yellow. Add the yeast mixture to the bowl and beat until smooth. With the mixer running on medium-low speed, add the flour in three batches, alternating with the melted butter. Add the herbs to the batter with the last batch of flour. The dough will be very sticky. Cover the dough with a piece of greased plastic wrap and keep it in a warm place to double in size, about 1 to 2 hours depending on the temperature.

When the dough is doubled, punch it down and turn to a well-floured surface. Knead several times to get rid of the air. Divide the dough into 9 equal-sized the bowls and arrange them in a greased baking pan or dish. Cover the pan with the greased plastic wrap and let the dough rise again until double in size.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Brush the top with a little milk. Bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 25 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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