Feb 17, 2014

Easy Thyme Dinner Rolls

Thyme Rolls-Baked2


Last October, my mom surprised Jordan and I with a late birthday gift that required us to be in San Fran. It was a day at the CIA (no, not spy school) but the Culinary Institute of America! We spent the entire day learning how to make artisan bread, which meant that the three of us were in our own little version of food heaven all day!

CIA 2013


Not only did we learn all sorts of fantastic bread baking tricks but we also came home with some bread. Actually, some is definitely not the right word; we came home with over 20 loaves of freshly baked bread! Best car freshener you could ask for! We had to rearrange our suitcases for the flight home so that we could both carry on a whole bag of bread! Needless to say, our freezer was packed full of bread and we were set for a little over a month and half.



After our field trip to the CIA, we’ve maybe bought 5 loaves of store bought bread. Once you learn the basics of bread baking, I’ve quickly learned that it isn’t nearly as daunting as I once thought. There are definitely some recipes that are more complicated than others, but there are some recipes that are almost so easy they require very little work on your part; anyone can do it! We’ve made it a point to try to bake our own bread each week and these easy thyme dinner rolls have made the rotation a few times now. If you don’t have fresh thyme, you can mix up the herbs with whatever you have on hand. Bottom line with these rolls, they require NO KNEADING, very little hands-on time, and most important, they are delicious!

Here’s what you need:


(From Alexandra Cooks. Makes 12 dinner rolls.)

  • 2 teaspoons instant rapid rise yeast
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour

In the bowl of your stand-up mixer, combine the yeast, sugar, salt, thyme, and warm water. It’s easiest if you make this bread using a stand-up mixer to make it a really no-knead bread. However, if you are without a stand-up mixer you can certainly combine everything in a large bowl and mix it all by hand. If you don’t have instant rapid rise yeast, you’ll have to proof the yeast (activate it). You’ll want to add the yeast and sugar to the warm water and let it stand for about 10 minutes until you start to see bubbles and it foams.

Thyme Rolls-Pre mixed


Stir everything together on low speed and begin to add the flour. I have to add the flour slowly because I have the smaller Kitchen Aid mixer. Continue to mix the water mixture and flour on medium speed until the flour is completely absorbed and the dough comes together. You can leave the dough just as it is or you can shape it by hand into a ball.

Thyme Rolls-Dough Mixed


Spray the top of the dough with light cooking spray and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Keep the dough in a warm location between 1-2 hours until the dough doubles in size. (If you’re short on time, you can move on to the next step closer to an hour of rise time. But if you forget your dough like I did the last time I made these and it goes for longer than 2 hours that’s perfectly fine, too!) My favorite use of the microwave is actually for helping my dough to rise, especially during these cold months. I fill a glass with some water and let the microwave go until the water starts to bubble. Immediately move the water aside and put the bowl with your dough in and it will be the perfect warm spot for your dough to hang out and rise.

Thyme Rolls-After Rise


After the dough rises, punch it down and start to transfer it to a 12-cup muffin tin. Spray the muffin cups or grease them thoroughly to help the rolls pop out after they bake. You can use two spoons/forks or if you have a large ice cream scooper on hand, I highly recommend using that to divide the dough. The dough will be extremely sticky and the scooper helps cut through the dough and evenly distribute the dough between the muffin cups. You should be able to fill each muffin tin fully.

Thyme Rolls-Pre bake1


Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and let them sit for 15-20 minutes. Now is a good time to preheat your oven to 425 degrees F and just let the rolls sit on top of your oven.

Thyme Rolls-Pre bake2


Once the oven is ready, uncover the rolls and bake the rolls at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes and then reduce the heat to 375 degrees F and bake the rolls for another 10 to 15 minutes. When you go to reduce the heat after the first 15 minutes, you will already be able to smell fresh bread taking over your kitchen! Never a bad thing. The rolls will get golden tops and with the thyme, you’ll get a hint of italian bread meets pizza scent.

Thyme Rolls-baked1


Depending on how high you fill each tin, you’ll see that the tops of some rolls will go well above the top and almost look like a pop-over. When you take the rolls out and they are done, I find it helpful to go ahead and take a butter knife and scrape around the edges of the rolls. This loosens up the edges of the roll and if you greased them well enough, they should start to pop right out for you. Because this is a sticky dough, if you don’t grease the tin enough or you let them sit for too long it’ll be a struggle between you and the tin and sometimes the tin will win.

Thyme Rolls-Baked2


Unlike some bread recipes, there is no wait time on these. Go ahead and slice them open, spread a little butter, and enjoy!

Thyme Rolls-Sliced


Nothing beats homemade bread, especially warm, fresh bread directly from the oven. It’s my honest opinion that any meal tastes better with homemade bread! These will also store well for 4-6 days in an airtight container or bread bags. After our CIA day, we went all over town trying to find bread bags to no avail. My mom found these King Arthur bread bags on their website and they are perfect! They’ll keep all of your baked goods tasting fresh for several days, work well for storing in the freezer and your bread will look like it came straight from a bakery!

Thyme Rolls Packaged


If you’re intimated by the bread baking, this is a great recipe to start out with. They dough is similar to what I make with this English muffin bread and it’s on the same easy-level as Sally Lunn. Sally Lunn is much softer and a little sweater but this is a great dinner roll that has a hard exterior but soft inside, perfect for absorbing a single tab of water. They’ll taste better than what you can get at the bakery and they are so low maintenance that you’ll wonder why you even thought making bread was hard to begin with! For now, that’s easy thyme dinner rolls…in the shell of a nut!

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