Feather-Light Rolls


1-1/4 cups warm milk (110° to 115°F)
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1/4 cup light vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted


Put the milk, yeast, oil, eggs, sugar, and 21⁄2 cups of flour into a bowl and mix well for 1 minute. Add the salt slowly, while mixing. Add the remaining 1 cup of flour and mix until a soft dough forms.

On a floured work surface, knead the dough for 5 minutes or strongly whack it with a large spoon 30 times. Form the dough into a ball (the dough will be very sticky) and place in a greased glass or plastic bowl. (Avoid stainless steel or sheet-metal bowls.)

Cover the dough with a cloth and let rise until double in size (in the shade and out of the wind). (The warmer the weather, the faster it will double in size; typical is 20 to 30 minutes at 75°F.)

While the dough is rising, prepare the Dutch oven. Warm it by placing three briquettes underneath. Melt the butter in the oven and use your hands to grease the bottom and side walls. Allow the butter to pool at the bottom. Cover, remove from the heat, and set aside in the shade.

When the dough is ready, drop it onto a greased clean, flat surface. Oil or butter your hands and shape the dough into a ball.

Pull off a 1-½- to 2-inch-diameter hunk of dough and roll between your hands to form a ball. Drop into the bottom of the Dutch oven (it should be warm but not hot). Roll the dough in the butter to coat it, then set the roll seam side down in the oven. Repeat, forming small dough balls and arranging the rolls in the oven so that they touch each other.

Cover the oven and place in the shade. Allow the rolls to almost double. Arrange 24 hot briquettes in rings of 12 underneath and on top of the Dutch oven; the target temperature is 325º to 350ºF. Cook 25 to 40 minutes (depends on the outdoor temperature) in an area that is in the shade and protected from the wind. When a yeasty aroma wafts from the Dutch oven, the bread is almost done; cook about 5 minutes more.


Makes 20 to 24 rolls.

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