3 tablespoons warm water (105°F-–115°F)
1 (1/4-oz) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup/4 oz/113g) unsalted butter
1 cup whole milk
2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 to 2 cups all-purpose flour
1 large egg, lightly beaten with 2 teaspoons water
About 1 tablespoon poppy seeds and/or toasted sesame seeds for sprinkling
Special equipment: 2 muffin pans with a total of at least 18 (1/2-cup) muffin cups
Stir together warm water, yeast, and 1 tablespoon sugar in a small bowl until yeast is dissolved, then let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn't foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)
Melt 3/4 stick butter in a small saucepan, then add milk and heat to lukewarm. Stir together yeast mixture, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, butter mixture, bread flour, and salt in a bowl with a wooden spoon until combined well, then stir in 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, or enough to make a slightly sticky dough.
Butter a large bowl. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface, kneading in more all-purpose flour as needed to keep dough from sticking, until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes (dough will still be slightly sticky). Form dough into a ball and put in buttered bowl, turning to coat. Let dough rise, bowl covered tightly with plastic wrap, in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Butter 18 muffin cups with remaining 2 tablespoons butter.
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into thirds. Working with 1 piece at a time (keep remaining portions covered with plastic wrap), cut off tablespoon pieces of dough and form pieces into balls. Put 3 balls into each buttered muffin cup. Let rolls rise, loosely covered with a kitchen towel (not terry cloth), in draft-free place at warm room temperature until almost doubled in bulk, 30 to 40 minutes.
While rolls rise, put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
Brush rolls lightly with egg wash and sprinkle with seeds. Bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve warm.
Rolls can be baked 1 day ahead and cooled completely, then kept, wrapped well in foil, at room temperature. Reheat in foil in a preheated 350°F (180°C) oven 15 to 20 minutes.
Makes 18 rolls.
Source: Gourmet Magazine, November 2003
Date: February 22, 2004