If these rolls could talk they'd, for sure, be telling you how festive and special occasion-worthy they are and that they love their new clothes. Of course they'd share how they hear everyone talking about how moist, tender and very delicious they are too. And they'd be sure to let you know that they're common fare in France, as they're quite proud of their heritage.
I've been making these wonderful rolls for several years now. They always come out great and they're honestly, my favorite dinner rolls. I had fun with them this time giving them a bit of a facelift.
If you're a Café follower you know that I'm quite taken with pomegranates, and have been having so much fun with them for the past few years, ever since I learned how amazingly easy and fuss-free it was to extract the seeds. I thought it would be fun to decorate my delicious brioche rolls with some festive pomegranate seeds. I tried several methods, but it seemed that they lost their beautiful, jewel-hued color and dried out after an extended stint in the oven.
It took a bit of experimenting, but I figured out a simple technique that would keep the arils (seeds) brilliant and full of flavor. The rolls turn out so pretty and they'd certainly make a fun, festive addition to any holiday meal.
- ½ cup warm water 105-115˚ F., if you're not used to working with yeast, use a thermometer
- 1 tablespoon dry yeast
- 4 large eggs at room temperature
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup softened butter
- 1 egg beaten
- 2 teaspoons water
- flat leaf or Italian parsley leaves, for garnish (Curly leaf parsley does not work as well.)
- ¼ cup pomegranate arils or seeds for garnish**
Warm a medium size bowl by filling it with hot water and letting it sit for 5 minutes. Once your bowl is nice and warm, pour out the "warming" water and add the ½ cup water to the empty bowl. Add yeast and stir. Let yeast mixture sit until bubbly and foaming, about 5 minutes, then add ½ cup flour. Stir well to combine and set in a warm place* until batter rises up and then begins to fall. This will take anywhere from 40-60 minutes, depending on how warm your kitchen is.
Transfer yeast mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer with dough hook attached. (If you don't have an electric mixer, this can be done by hand, using a strong wooden spoon for mixing.) Add eggs, sugar, salt and remaining 3 cups of flour. Mix, with the dough hook, starting on low speed until most of the flour is incorporated, then increase speed to medium and mix for 5 minutes.
Add the soft butter and mix at a medium speed until it's fully incorporated and the dough is smooth and elastic, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice during this mixing. Dough will look smooth and shiny. It will still be a bit sticky.
Cover dough with a clean towel and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour. May take a bit longer if you don't have a nice warm area for dough to rise.*
Line two sheet pans with parchment paper or grease lightly.
Place the dough on a well-floured work surface. Turn the dough to coat with flour. Cut into 14-16 equal pieces. Coat each piece with flour and form into smooth round balls. If you're not used to shaping dough into balls, here's a great tutorial from Fine Cooking. Place dough balls on the prepared sheet pans. Cover rolls with clean kitchen towels, place in a warm area and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 25-30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Combine egg and the tablespoon of water and whisk vigorously to combine. Place pomegranate seeds on top of several layers of paper towels to drain off any juice.
Brush tops of the buns with this egg wash, then place one or more parsley leaves on top of each one. With your finger rub over top of each leaf to flatten to the surface of the roll. Brush with more egg wash.
Bake for 15 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from oven and, working quickly with the sharp end of a wooden skewer, poke 5 or 6 holes randomly into each roll. Twist skewer slightly after piercing to enlarge the hole just a little more. Stick a pomegranate seed, bright red side up, into each hole. The top of the seed should be just slightly protruding above the surface of the roll. Brush rolls again, very lightly, with egg wash.
Bake for an additional 5-7 minutes or until deep golden brown. Cool on a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
~ To freeze, place on a sheet pan. Place pan in freezer till rolls are frozen, about one hour. When frozen, transfer to zip lock plastic bags. To serve, unthaw and warm in oven, covered with foil, for 10 minutes at 325˚ F.
~ *A few tips for optimal rising conditions; if your oven temperature can be set at 100˚F, this is the perfect temperature for yeast doughs to rise. This is my favorite trick: place the bowl in the microwave. Cover it with a kitchen towel and close the microwave with a bit of the towel sticking out of the door. The microwave won't close properly and the light will say on, creating a nice warm yeast-loving spot.
After the rolls have been shaped and placed on the prepared pans, I usually go ahead and preheat my oven. I set the pans on the stovetop and the heat from the warming oven makes the yeast quite happy and the rolls rise very nicely.
~ ** If you're intimidated by pomegranates (I used to be) check out
this tutorial for the simplest, quickest way to deseed a pom, it's really crazy-easy.