The only qualification to making these rolls is a love of dill and soft butter
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Any bread or rolls that show up on your Thanksgiving table are to be considered extra credit. To me, the stuffing is the bread, and it’s the only bread I need. These Dilly Rolls get a pass because I have emotional familial attachment to them (they’re based on my Grandpa Bob’s recipe, my first Thanksgiving memory), and also I love dill. Effectively a no-knead bread with a weak-ish crumb, these Dilly Rolls land somewhere between a fluffy roll and a fluffy biscuit, with a crunchy exterior and pillowy interior. The texture defies logic, and they taste amazing (dill): What else can I say?
All below photos are from THANKSGIVING 2023, a smol magazine / newspaper I made with Chris Bernabeo and Britt Cobb for your viewing/cooking pleasure. For access, containing ALL Thanksgiving 2023 recipes, shopping list, to-do list, etc, become a paid subscriber.
THE DOUGH: There is fresh dill, and there are raw onions, both of which contribute to the extremely fabulous flavor of the finished product (as well as the texture— onions provide lots of moisture). It is sticky by design (wetter dough = softer, moister rolls)— in FACT, while I may be extra critical, I’d say the dough in the video is a little on the stiff/dry side (my bad) and should look more like the image above.
Kneading a very sticky dough can be tricky but not impossible— but if choosing between kneading and letting the dough be a little sticky, let it be sticky (it’ll firm up/hydrate as it sits, making it easier to portion/roll into balls).
THE SHAPING: The video will effectively demonstrate what a still image simply cannot— how to turn the soft, gentle pillow-y knobs of dough into smooth, round balls for baking into rolls.
Do NOT fuss too much, though— get them into as round a shape as you can without doing minor surgery. The dough will even itself out during “the bake,” even if they go into the dish looking a little funny.
More questions? As always, the comments section is available to paid subscribers, but tomorrow I will be publishing my ANNUAL THANKSGIVING HOTLINE which I’ll be chiming in on through Thanksgiving Day.
If you ask me, it’s the best comments section on the internet for all things Thanksgiving shopping/hosting/cooking related. Everyone (including myself) always learns something from someone else, so tune in— can’t wait to help you help me help each other.
A cautionary tale/ PSA from the video: on the first go around, my yeast was NOT ALIVE, it was dead, but because it was active dry yeast (i.e. not the yeast that will activate immediately in warm milk), I didn’t know it (😭).
When possible, make sure your yeast is fresh/newly purchased and always keep it in the fridge (yeast can die if it gets too warm, either in transit or in an especially hot room/kitchen 🥵).
If your dough doesn’t look gorgeously puffed after the first rise or it seems to be taking longer than 75 minutes….it may be the yeast (😔🥴).
A very special thank you to Fresh Direct for sponsoring this years Home Movies Thanksgiving! To have a very CASUAL and STRESS-FREE Thanksgiving of your own, you can have your ingredients delivered (pre-ordered, even!), and you can shop everything you need here. If you’re a new customer (can’t relate!), you can use the code ROMAN50 for free delivery and $50 off your first order of $99 or more.
makes 12 rolls
The dough is soft and sticky by design, so resist the urge to add more flour, or they’ll end up heavier and denser than they should be. Feel free to bake them on a sheet tray spaced apart if you prefer the spherical little bun shape vs. the squished roll-in-a-dish look. If dill is not a flavor you enjoy, you could certainly leave it out (the onions give a lot here, too), but also, they’re called Dilly Rolls?
1¼ cups (10 ounces) whole milk
2¼ teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
2 teaspoons (12g) sugar
3 cups (450g) all-purpose flour
½ cup finely chopped fresh dill (approx 30g)
½ small white or yellow onion, finely chopped (approx 80g)
2 teaspoons dill seed (I’ve also used caraway or celery seed, both taste great) (optional)
2 ¼ teaspoons (7g) kosher salt
6 tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan and pot
1 egg, beaten (or a little buttermilk, milk, heavy cream, or softened butter), for brushing
Flaky salt and cracked black pepper
Softened salted butter, for serving
1. Heat the milk in a small pot over medium heat to a nice, warmer-than-lukewarm temperature. Remove from heat, and whisk in the yeast and sugar, mixing to dissolve both in the milk; set aside.
2. Using a wooden spoon, stir the flour, dill, onions, dill seed, and salt in a large bowl. Mix in the warm milk mixture, creating a rough ball of dough. Add in the 6 tablespoons melted butter, and continue to mix, using the wooden spoon to kind of knead the dough until it comes together (it will be soft, but decidedly a dough, not a batter).
3. Leave the dough in the bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let it double in size at room temperature, about 90 minutes.
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, and divide into twelve even portions. (I find the easiest way to do this is to divide the dough in half, then keep dividing each piece in half, rather than guessing what 1/12th of the dough looks like.)
5. Flatten each piece of dough between your palms, then fold the edges to meet each other, making a ball. Smooth the seam by rolling the dough in a tight circle on the countertop. Place each piece of dough in a buttered (or oiled) 3-quart baking dish (I use a regular 9x13), three across, four down (alternatively, bake them on a rimmed baking sheet spaced further apart for a rounder roll shape).
6. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cover with plastic wrap, and let sit in a warm place (like on top of the oven) for 45–60 minutes, until the balls of dough are puffy and touching :).
7. To bake, you can brush the rolls with anything you want, but they need something: melted butter, heavy cream, buttermilk, milk, or an egg beaten with a touch of water for an egg wash (I like egg wash for the shine). Then sprinkle the tops of the rolls with flaky salt and cracked black pepper.
8. Bake the rolls until they’re deeply golden brown on all sides, have puffed up into what looks like one large-ish roll (unless you’re baking them individually), and feel crunchy and firm when the tops are tapped, 35–40 minutes.
9. Remove from heat, and let cool slightly. These rolls really are best eaten the day of, but can be rewarmed in the oven or eaten at room temperature or whatever, honestly who cares, they’re rolls filled with butter and dill, they’re perfect whenever.
DO AHEAD: Rolls can be made and baked a day ahead, wrapped individually in foil or kept in their baking dish.
LEFTOVERS: They make excellent little breakfast sandwiches the next day, but if you want to relive the glory days of a warm roll, simply wrap them in foil and reheat in a 400° oven for 8–10 minutes.
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