Honey Challah Rolls (for ham)
Calin loves ham rolls. Mostly he loves ham, but he does usually want to eat it on something, and ham rolls are the ideal. At the grocery store this weekend, I bought a rotisserie chicken that came with a free 4-pack of hawaiian rolls. I generally consider hawaiian rolls the best possible (store-bought) roll for ham rolls, and we happened to have some leftover Virginia ham from Yoder’s Country Market (best ham ever for ham roll purposes). It was all a set-up.
Hubby decided one stormy morning that what he wanted for dinner that night was ham rolls. But the hawaiian rolls were only a 4-pack, like I said, and they’re small enough that that’s not really enough for dinner. So I said I’d make rolls, and we could have home-made ham rolls to supplement the hawaiian rolls. I underestimated the appeal of fresh-from-the-oven rolls, clearly. The hawaiian rolls are still sitting in their package on the counter, and these honey challah rolls are gone.
They were almost gone instantly, actually. I made us stop while there were still enough left to pack some for lunch the next day. It was an intervention.
In case I haven’t mentioned it before, rolls are ridiculously easy, and fun. These only took about an hour to make (including rise time) and 20 minutes to bake – most bread recipes take at least a few hours of rising. Plus, rolls are the most fun because you get to play with them like play dough, mashing and rolling and mushing and squashing until you’re finally done and ready to put them on the pan for the final rest.
Plus plus, the only ingredients are things that most people who use their kitchens have on hand at all times. (This recipe technically calls for sesame seeds. I don’t have sesame seeds, so that didn’t happen. Obviously, the rolls still went on without any drama. See what I mean? Easy easy easy.)
I think I mentioned the other day that I’ve been on a “not actually following this recipe” kick recently. These rolls were actually a prime example. I got about two steps into the written recipe before I realized that it was designed for a bread machine and was just not going to work for me. So I took the ingredients list and faked it from there.
Based on all my other bread recipes, yeast goes in first, with the liquids, to get its groove on. I gave it a little time with the water, then I added the honey, oil and eggs.
The dough was incredibly sticky. At first I thought there wasn’t enough liquid, so I added a tiny bit more water, and it just went crazy. I ended up adding a few teaspoons more flour just to bring it back to a ball shape, and then decided dough will be dough and let it go.
After a 30 minute rise in my warmed oven (170 degrees – the lowest my oven sets – then off to coast. Perfect environment for rising dough!), I plunked the dough out on the counter and started making little balls. I’m a bit OCD about things like this, and the recipe said it should make 16 rolls, so I actually weighed the big dough (31.8 oz) and had Hubs divide it by 16 to tell me about how much each roll ball should weigh (just about 2 oz). Then, as I tore each little chunk off, I weighed it to make sure it was at least close to the ballpark (har har har) (I crack myself up) and added or subtracted tiny globs of dough until they each ended up between 1.85 and 2.15. (Obviously I’m not *that* OCD, because .3 oz variance is pretty high!)
So, I made all these pretty balls, and as you can tell, there were 17 of them. (Probably because of the variance. I knew I should have been more precise.) But I realized that I was also using a smaller pan than the recipe called for, so there was no way I was going to fit 16 rolls in there anyway – they’d have nowhere to rise but up! So I cheated a little bit, and I tore six of the rolls in half (about 1 oz each, now, in case you’re counting), rolled them into even tinier balls, and put them in a mini muffin pan. Then I shoved what was left into my 8-inch cake pan as systematically as possible (because, like I said, I’m OCD – if it hadn’t come out pretty, I would have started over), painted them with whipped egg white, and covered them to rise again for about 15 minutes. (This one’s more of a rest, really.)
After the second rise, I wrapped the mini muffin pan with cling wrap and stuck it in the freezer, so I can have tiny rolls later without the prep time! The full-sized rolls had puffed up nicely, and were ready as can be for that toasty oven. (By the way, that second 15 minute rise was perfect for getting the oven up to temp!)
20 minutes later, these spectacular, golden, light, puffy rolls came out of the oven. Can you believe I made those? In less than an hour? With no special ingredients and without following anybody else’s instructions? That’s how easy these are!
Calin photo-bombed the shot, trying to eat the rolls before I even got them out of the pan. As you can see, he was also ready with the ham, cheese, and mustard. We were really sad that we’re finally out of my home-made mustard, and we were forced to use store-bought deli mustard – totally inferior, but you use what you have.
The rolls were removed from the pan and turned into ham rolls, and there was much rejoicing. More rolls were then removed from the pan and turned into honey butter rolls. It was like Christmas, only without family or presents or holiday music or any food other than ham rolls.
I used honey harvested from my father- and step-mother-in-law’s bees, both in the rolls and on the honey butter roll I made. It has a wonderful, strong flavor. I couldn’t pick out a particular taste, but it’s delicious. And they say local honey is really good for your immune system!
In the end, we had barely enough left for lunch. Honestly, this pictures shows 6 rolls left. I’m not sure what happened to two of those, because there were definitely only four left when we packed lunches. It is unbelievable how fresh bread disappears in this house.
Honey Challah Rolls
Adapted from Food.com
- 3 1/2-4 cups bread flour
- 2 packages active dry yeast (4 1/2 tsp if you’re using bulk yeast)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (I would recommend a little bit more than this – maybe 2 tsp)
- 2 eggs, one separated
- 1 cup hot water (105-115 degrees)
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons oil
- Optional: sesame seed
- Turn oven on to its lowest temperature. Once it is preheated, turn it off and let it coast.
- Separate one egg; set white aside.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, pour in yeast, water, and salt. Stir briefly, then add the egg and yolk, honey, and oil.
- With the dough hook attachment, set mixer to “stir” and begin adding flour slowly until it is all incorporated.
- Turn mixer to medium (2-3 on mine) and continue to knead for about 10-12 minutes, or until the dough forms a consistent ball. If the dough sticks to the sides, add just enough flour to get it to ball up and keep kneading.
- Grease a large bowl and put the dough ball in it. Roll it around to grease all sides. (I usually just use the mixer bowl – I pour the dough out on the counter, grease the bowl, and dump the dough back in.)
- Cover the bowl with a damp dishtowel (I have one I keep specifically for this purpose – it’s not fuzzy and it doesn’t fall in the bowl) and put it in the warmed oven to rise for 30 minutes. (Remember – the oven is not on at this point.)
- When the dough is through rising, pull it out of the oven and punch it down gently, then let it rest for about 5 minutes.
- Dump the dough onto a floured surface and divide it evenly into small balls (approximately 16).
- Arrange the balls in a greased 9-inch cake pan, working from outside in, placing 10 around the outside, then 5 around the inner ring, with 1 in the center. (If you do it my way, use an 8-inch pan with 8 around the outside and 3 on the inside. Then, subdivide the remaining balls and put them in a mini muffin pan or on a baking sheet for the final rise.)
- Lightly beat the reserved egg white with a fork or whisk, and brush over the rolls. (Only brush the rolls you’re going to bake now.)
- If you’re using sesame seeds, sprinkle them over the rolls now.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cover the rolls with the damp cloth and let rise again until doubled, about 15 minutes.
- Once the second rise is complete, bake the rolls at 350 degrees for about 20-22 minutes, until golden brown. (Now is also the time to stick the other rolls in the freezer, if you’re planning to keep dough for later.)
- Take the rolls out of the oven and set the pan on a cooling rack for 5 minutes.
- Serve warm as ham rolls, honey butter rolls, or anything else that strikes your fancy.