My family loves my homemade soft, fluffy dinner rolls. I always make them for holiday meals. Recently I've been eliminating the last-minute stress of same-day mixing, kneading, forming, rising, and baking rolls by making them a week or two ahead and freezing them. Oh, what a relief it is to simply remove the desired number of dough balls from the freezer, let them rise, and bake them a few hours later. No sweat! This is such a convenience and frees me up to focus on preparing the rest of meal.
SECRET INGREDIENTS. As in my original roll recipe, I have added two ingredients to the dough to create a rich flavor and tender texture. I learned from King Arthur Baking Company to add these unexpected ingredients to the dough:
FREEZER FRIENDLY. In order to make my roll recipe freezer-friendly, I made a few modifications.
Step 1. Assemble the ingredients:
Step 2: Pour cool water in bottom of the bowl of a stand mixer, sprinkle on the yeast, and add all of the remaining ingredients.
view on Amazon: KitchenAid stand mixer
Step 3. Use the dough hook and #2 mixer speed to mix until ingredients are uniformly combined and there are no visible dry bits in the bowl. This will take about 1 minute; the dry ingredients on the edges will gradually mix in--this is so easy!
Step 4. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue mixing/kneading on #4 speed for 5-6 additional minutes. When the dough is ready, it should be pulling away from the sides of the bowl but sticking to the bottom of the bowl. If your dough looks too thin, add flour a tablespoon at a time; if it looks too dry, add water a tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is achieved. (In dry fall/winter weather, I usually need 2 tablespoons of extra water.) The dough should be fairly smooth, although it will have some visible flecks of potato flakes that will soften and cook in when the rolls bake. It should spring back some if you poke it with your finger.
Step 5. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface (I use a flour shaker), form into a ball and cut ball into quarters using a large knife or scraper/chopper tool. Roll each quarter into a log and cut into 6 equal sections. (You can weigh each piece if you want them to be perfectly uniform. I don't normally bother with that and just eyeball it. Close is good enough for me.) Continue rolling and cutting remaining quarters until you have 24 pieces.
Step 6. To form the dough balls, first pull the sides around and pinch them together. Then roll the dough in your hands to form a round shape.
Step 7. As soon as the dough balls are formed place them on a baking sheet so they aren't touching. Cover and freeze for 4 hours until firm. (After dough rolls are formed don't give them time to start rising! You don't want the yeast to activate before they are frozen.) Then transfer the frozen balls to a labeled freezer bag; press out as much air as possible and return to the freezer.
Frozen dough balls may be frozen 2-4 weeks in advance. The longer they are frozen, the more they are at risk of the yeast "dying". It happens gradually, so dough that is frozen for more than 2 weeks may gradually yield rolls with less rise.
Step 8. Time to bake! For a full batch of 24 rolls, spray/grease one 9x13 pan or two 8x8 pans. Arrange dough balls in even rows. You can bake all, half, or any amount of rolls you like--as long as you have a baking dish that will accommodate the quantity. For the best results, choose a pan with just enough room between the rolls so they rise into eachother and form "pull-apart" rolls; they have a softer interior this way.
The image below shows half a batch (12 rolls) placed in a 9.4 x 7" pan, This pan comes with a plastic lid. I spray it, arrange the 12 frozen dough balls in 4 rows of 3, put the cover on, and let it rise for 5-6 hours at room temperature. (My kitchen is usually 70 degrees F; rise time may vary in rooms that are different temperatures.) The thawed dough balls will look puffy when they are ready to bake.
view on Amazon: two 9x4" x 7" baking pans with lids; use both for baking a full batch of rolls.
If you're baking in a 9x13 baking dish (below) that doesn't have a lid, simply cover it with sprayed plastic wrap while the rolls rise for 5-6 hours.
Step 9. Bake for approx. 25 minutes until browned and center rolls are cooked through. If your rolls begin to brown too quickly, you can set a loose piece of foil over the top so they can continue cooking without getting too brown on top. If you're unsure if the center rolls are done, you can check their internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer--they should be 190 to 200° in the center.
view instant-read thermometers on ThermoWorks:
Step 11. Melt a tablespoon of butter in a small bowl in the microwave and gently brush it over the tops of the hot rolls.
view on Amazon: silicone basting brush
PAN ALTERNATIVES -- Below are examples of how to arrange rolls in 3 different pans.
The best part is eating these soft, buttery rolls! This freezer version is every bit as good as the original recipe for rolls made entirely on the same day. I'm all for the convenience of this stress-free method.
Make it a Yummy day!
Here are my additional make-ahead holiday recipes: