Savory Dinner Rolls

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I took a basic yeast dough, slathered it with compound butter, and sprinkled on some cheddar cheese to make these rolls. They freeze beautifully so you can always have a stash of fresh rolls when you need them. Great for the holidays!


  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 3/4 cup warm milk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) very soft, unsalted butter
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (1/2 stick)
  • 1 small clove of garlic, peeled and minced, crushed to a paste with a little coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, finely minced
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1 cup coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese, or to taste


  1. To make the dough: In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Whisk to combine and let stand until small bubbles form. In a large mixing bowl blend together the milk, sugar, salt, and egg. Add the yeast mixture, the very soft butter, and 2 cups of flour. Beat vigorously with a whisk to make a smooth mixture. With a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon stir in another cup of flour and mix to form a dough. Add additional flour until the dough is soft and not sticky to handle.
  2. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes, or until smooth and springy. You will see little bubbles on the surface of the dough. Place the dough in a large, buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set in a warm spot to rise. This will take 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  3. While the dough rises, make the garlic-herb butter: In a medium bowl, combine the softened butter, garlic paste, minced herbs, and salt. Cover and set aside at room temperature.
  4. When the dough has doubled in volume, turn it out onto a floured work surface to deflate, then divide it into two equal-sized pieces. Shape the fan-tans as follows: Roll one piece of dough to an approximately 9- by-13-inch rectangle. If the dough seems springy, let it rest a while before continuing. Spread on a thin layer of the garlic-herb butter, then scatter a handful of cheese over the dough. Cut the dough into 6 strips crosswise and stack the strips. Trim the ends of the stack, if necessary. Cut the strip into 12 even pieces and place each piece, cut side showing, in a well-greased, light-colored muffin tin (to avoid over-browning on the bottoms). Cover with plastic wrap and let rise again for 20 to 30 minutes. While the dough rises, heat the oven to 375° F. Before placing in the oven, brush the tops of the rolls with a little more softened butter. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until handsomely golden brown.
  5. If you prefer, shape the dough into crescents: Roll out one piece of dough to an approximately 12-inch circle. Spread with a thin layer of garlic-herb butter. Cut the dough into 16 wedges and roll each, from the wide end into a crescent shape. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, with the point of each roll tucked securely underneath. Sprinkle some shredded cheese over top of each roll, cover loosely with plastic, and let rise for about 20 minutes. When puffy and light, place in the preheated oven and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
  6. If you have any garlic-herb butter leftover, spread it on the warm rolls when you serve them. To freeze the rolls, let them cool completely and place in freezer bags. Warm the frozen rolls in a 325° F oven to heat and refresh them.

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