I know that some of you might be thinking there is no possible way you have time to add one more item, let alone homemade dinner rolls, to your Thanksgiving Day timetable, but I’m here on this snowy November morning to encourage — to insist! — that you do. You absolutely have time. Here’s why:
1. This dough, especially if you use instant yeast, takes five minutes to mix together. There is no kneading, no pampering.
2. Moreover, there is no need to flour up a workspace or to get your hands dirty shaping individual rolls. If you have a 12-cup muffin pan and someone lurking in your kitchen hoping to help, you’re in luck. Put that friend to work buttering the muffin cups, punching down the dough, portioning out the rolls. Handling this dough requires no skill.
3. This dough can rise in the corner of your kitchen all morning long. While that turkey roasts away, you can punch the dough down as often as you need, and when at last you find the oven free of birds and stuffings and gratins, in will go your rolls.
4. These rolls bake in 25 minutes. If you plan on letting your turkey rest for a good 30 minutes before carving, you’ll have plenty of time to let these rolls make their second rise (17 to 20 minutes) and to bake them before your guests are seated around the table, at which point you will pass around a basket of steaming hot, thyme-flecked rolls.
I know that from getting the turkey cooked to keeping the stuffing and the vegetables and the plates warm to keeping your guests entertained Thanksgiving can be a logistical
nightmare challenge. And when there truly are so many wonderful take-and-bake options in your supermarket freezer, why not cross one thing off your to-do list?
Well, because if there ever was an occasion to push your domestic stamina to its limits, to display your culinary prowess, it’s Thanksgiving. I mean, where is the fun in effortless entertaining? Pony up, Friends. Nothing says you care like freshly baked bread (and turkey and stuffing and gravy and pumpkin pie and punch). Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!
I repeat, I could totally skip the turkey.
Have a wonderful holiday, Everyone! If you’re still looking for ideas, this board might help.
Thyme Dinner Rolls
Note: This is yet another variation of the peasant bread. If you would prefer to make round loaves, view this post.
- 4 cups (1 lb. 2 oz | 510 g) all-purpose flour, preferably not bleached
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast or active dry yeast*
- 1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme leaves
- 2 cups lukewarm water**
- room temperature butter, about 2 tablespoons
* For future reference, you can buy both SAF instant yeast and Red Star active dry yeast in bulk from Amazon. After you open the pouches, transfer yeast to airtight container and store in the fridge or freezer, where they will last forever. If you are using the packets of yeast (the kind that come in the 3-fold packets), just go ahead and use a whole packet — I think it’s 2.25 teaspoons. Recently, I have been using instant yeast more than active dry because when you use instant yeast there is no need to do the proofing step — you can add the yeast directly to the flour — which makes the mixing process a little bit faster.
** To make fool-proof lukewarm water that will not kill the yeast (water that’s too hot can kill yeast), boil some water — I use my teapot. Then, mix 1 1/2 cups cold water with 1/2 cup boiling water. This ratio of hot to cold water will be the perfect temperature for the yeast.
- If you are using instant yeast: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, instant yeast, and fresh thyme leaves. Add the water. Mix until the flour is absorbed. Cover with plastic wrap (or a tea towel that has been run under hot water and squeezed out). Place in a warm spot to rise: Because your kitchen will likely be nice and cozy with all of the cooking going on, you don’t need to do the warm-oven rise trick. But for future reference, here is how you can create a warm spot: Turn your oven on (to 350 or so) and then turn it off after 1 minute — this will create just a slightly warm environment to get the bread rising nicely.
If you are using active-dry yeast: In a small mixing bowl, dissolve the sugar into the water. Sprinkle the yeast over top. There is no need to stir it up. Let it stand for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the mixture is foamy and/or bubbling just a bit — this step will ensure that the yeast is active. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and thyme. When the yeast-water-sugar mixture is foamy, stir it up, and add it to the flour bowl. Mix until the flour is absorbed. Cover with plastic wrap (or a tea towel that has been run under hot water and squeezed out). Place in a warm spot to rise: Because your kitchen will likely be nice and cozy with all of the cooking going on, you don’t need to do the warm-oven rise trick.
- Let dough rise for 1 to 2 hours or more or less. As noted in the post above, you can let the dough rise, and when you see that it has reached the top of the bowl, but you don’t have oven space available in the following 20 minutes, punch it down and let it rise again. You can do this as many times as necessary. Meanwhile, generously butter a 12-cup muffin pan, plus a few ramekins (2 to 4).
- Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Using two forks, punch down your dough, scraping it from the sides of the bowl, which it will be clinging to. (Here is video guidance. You can find more peasant bread-making video guidance at the end of the peasant bread post.) As you scrape it down, turn the dough up onto itself. You want to loosen the dough entirely from the sides of the bowl, and you want to make sure you’ve punched it down. Take your two forks and divide the dough roughly into 6 portions. Then, using the two forks, scoop up half of each of these portions and plop each into a buttered muffin cup. Repeat with remaining dough. This won’t be pretty, but it doesn’t matter. Try your best to divide the dough equally, and if you have extra dough, bake it off in the buttered ramekins. Let the dough rise for about 17 to 20 minutes or until it has risen to just above the top of the muffin cups.
- Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375º and make for 10 to 15 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and turn the rolls onto a cooling rack or directly into a bread basket. Pass the butter.