Parmesan Pull Apart Rolls

Today we are focusing on something I consider an indulgence. A delicious treat-accessory for your dinner table: dinner rolls.

Having full-fledged rolls on your table is way different than having sliced bread. While I consider a good baguette, or crusty loaf a staple at the table, I find that it is often used as a vehicle for delivering the remnants of a tasty meal to your mouth. Especially if that meal was pasta.

Don't get me wrong, a pre-meal bread basket can stand alone. But this too is often received while still anticipating the main course.

Rolls are different. Especially these. A buttery-soft, brioche-like roll with a cheesey SNAP provided by parmesan cheese. The golden outer crust is thin and pliable.

These rolls are meant to be savored, with complete disregard for what came before or after. That being said, you could slice them down the center and make sliders with them. I would recommend porchetta. With some pickels. Or you can have them for breakfast, smeared with a little quince paste. It works, trust me.

What You Need:

1 pacakge active dry yeast

1 tsp mild honey or sugar (I used agave syrup)

2/3 cup warm milk (1105-115 degrees F) divided (I used half and half because I ran out of milk)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling

3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 cup grated manchego cheese (You can use all parm or all manchego, I just decided to mix for fun).

1 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs

5 tablespoons unsalted BUTTER! cut into tablespoon sized pieced and softened

1 tablespoon water

Equipment: a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, or a food processor. I used my food processor and it all worked out nicely.

What To Do:

Stir together yeast, honey, and 1/3 cup warm milk in the mixer bowl and let it stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

Wisk together the flour, cheese and salt and then add to the yeast mixture along with the remaining 1/3 cup warm milk. LOW SPEED. This this has the potential to blow.

Increase speed and beat in 2 of the eggs, 1 at a time. Beat until a very soft dough forms, about 3 minutes. You may need to pause the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

Beat in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough is elastic, about 2 minutes.

The dough will be very sticky. Don't panic. Scrape this dough into a bowl and dust with the 2 tablespoons of flour. Cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let it rise at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

PUNCH down the dough and turn it out onto a floured surface. Cut it into 12 equal pieces, rolling each piece into a bowl. Arrange the rolls 1 inch apart in a buttered 9x12 inch round cake pan and cover with a kitchen towel. Don't use a terry cloth towel. It sticks and becomes a disaster. You don't want to be a disaster do you? I didn't think so.

Let the dough rise at room temperature for 1 - 1 1/2 hours. The dough will double at the end of this rise.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, with a rack in the middle.

Whisk together the remaining egg and brush the tops of the rolls with the egg wash. This will make them shiny! And you DEFINITELY want shiny rolls.

Bake until golden brown (and shiny), about 20-25 minutes.

Loosen the edges of the rolls from the pan with a knife and invert them onto a rack. Turn those little guys right side up and cool for about 20 minutes.

Eat them! Immediately, if you can because that is when they are best. If you can't, you can wrap them up and freeze them for later.

NOTE: This recipe is from Gourmet Magazine, February 2009. Even though the magazine has folded, I have squirreled away my favorite photos and recipes (in that super-fancy binder with plastic sleeves I mentioned here).