This recipe is that unique in that it can be made with either a sourdough starter or with active dry yeast. While the final flavor, as well as the rising times are different depending on which method you choose, the end results are delicious either way. It makes an impressive presentation served directly from a cast iron skillet, and the cast iron keeps the rolls warm on the table.
Inspiration for this recipe from our friends at Food52, where it was a Community Pick. Please note the slight variations in recipe depending on the method used. The wide variation in rising times when using the sourdough starter has to do with the vigor of the starter as well as the temperature. For faster results, make sure your starter is warm, well-fed, and active. However, those extra long rising times can work to your advantage if you want to make this recipe and let it rise overnight to bake in the morning.
Makes 30 rolls
If using active dry yeast, heat the milk in a saucepan until it is warm to the touch. In a bowl, whisk in the sugar into the warm milk and sprinkle the yeast on top. Let the yeast float on the surface for a minute, than whisk it into the milk mixture and let stand for 5 minutes.
Coat a mixing bowl with oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil.
Cover the bowl with a damp cloth or towel and let rise for 1 1/4 hours (active dry yeast) or between 4-12 hours (sourdough starter). The dough should be roughly doubled in size; a fingertip pressed into the surface should make a soft indentation that does not heal automatically.
Preheat the oven to 375° F. When the rolls have fully risen and are ready to be baked, beat the remaining egg and use it to brush the tops of the rolls.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.
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