Living in New Jersey, hard rolls hold a special place in my heart.
If you ask anyone from New Jersey about hard rolls, he or she will tell you that only here will you find that a buttered roll is an acceptable breakfast.
As a breakfast staple, you'll find them in convenience stores, gas stations and diners alike. Growing up in North Carolina, when I moved to New Jersey I ate my weight in this newfound breakfast phenomenon.
When I talk about hard rolls, I'm not talking about rolls with a thick crust that you really sink your teeth into and then rip away a huge crusty chunk. Don't get me wrong, those sound fantastic to me, but what I'm talking about are rolls with a thin, crispy crust and a soft, airy interior. That's exactly what you'll get when you bake these rolls.
Similar to sourdough bread, they're perfect as a large sandwich roll and the ideal carrying device for another Jersey favorite, the Taylor ham, egg and cheese (salt, pepper, ketchup please!). Or feel free to make them smaller and serve them alongside dinner. These rolls freeze beautifully too, so make a big batch. When you're ready, defrost a few and simply pop them into the oven for a few minutes.
Voila! Homemade rolls anytime your heart desires.
- 1 cup water, plus 2 tablespoons (105-115f)
- 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/2-3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- poppy seeds, optional
Place warm water into the bowl of a stand mixer or into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle yeast over the top and set aside until yeast has dissolved and mixture looks bubbly, about 10 minutes.
Sprinkle in the salt and add 2 1/2 cups flour. Beat on low speed or with a wooden spoon until smooth. Once smooth, increase mixer speed to medium and knead until smooth and satiny, about 10 minutes. If kneading by hand, turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and satiny. If dough is sticky, slowly add remaining 1/2 cup flour as needed. Dough should be very soft but not sticky.
Lightly spray a large bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Place dough in bowl, gently turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at warm room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
Gently punch down the dough, cover with plastic wrap again and once more let dough rise until doubled, another 1 1/2 hours.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, knead lightly to deflate a bit. Cut the dough into 6 even pieces, about 3 1/2 ounces each then form each piece into a round. Place each round onto prepared baking sheet and brush with egg wash then sprinkle with poppy seeds.
Lightly spray a piece of plastic wrap with nonstick cooking spray and gently cover rolls with wrap. Let rise at warm room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375
°F.. Bake rolls in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until golden.
Cool completely on a wire rack before serving.