Beautiful, buttery rolls, these Colicchio’s Dinner Rolls are a treat, best enjoyed warm from the oven.
I first heard about Tom Colicchio’s Dinner Rolls from my sister. She had just returned from Las Vegas, where she ate at Colicchio’s restaurant. These rolls are served warm to every table, in cute little staub cast iron dishes. She raved about them and since these rolls appeared to be the memorable part of what was probably a pretty good meal, I had to check them out.
I discovered that Saveur had published the recipe on their. What great luck, I thought, until I read the reviews and it became clear that the published recipe was seriously flawed. I read the reviews to identify the issues, then combined it with good old kitchen trial and error to make a batch of these.
I like to call these “take all day, but are totally worth it” rolls. If you’d like to enjoy them warm and fresh for dinner, you’ll want to get them started early in the morning!.
The first thing I learned with these rolls was you’ll not want to be in any hurry. These rolls take 8-9 hours, start to finish. Of course, most of that time is passive rising time. The number of rises is the other oddity with these rolls. There’s 3 of them, instead of the usual 2. So, the addition of an extra rise, combined with very slow rising dough is what makes these rolls a true labour of love.
Three long rises brings great flavour to these rolls. The liberal brushing of butter onto the warm rolls and the sprinkling of finishing salt on top, don’t hurt either :)
The one thing that struck me with this recipe was the length of time invested to produce just 8 rolls! But … these rolls are absolutely best enjoyed warm from the oven, brushed with warm butter, so these are the kind of rolls to enjoy at their best, rather than make in bulk.
I can’t stress enough that you’ll want to pack your patience with these rolls. They rise very slowly and the rise time will vary depending on the temperature of your kitchen. Count on at least 2 hours per rise (for 3 rises, so 6 hours of rising time, at least).
I like to weigh the dough before dividing into pieces. Simply take the weight of all the dough and divide it by 8, then weigh out your dough balls exactly. That way all your finished rolls are the same size.
The original recipe suggested 12-14 dough balls, but I found the finished rolls too small. I found 8 baked in a 9×5 loaf pan made nice sized, tall rolls. If you don’t mind smaller, you can go for the 12 and bake in an 8×8-inch square pan instead.
You’ll note the dough calls for a small amount of Barley Malt. I found Barley Malt in the natural/organic food section of my local (small town!) grocery store. I’ve linked up Barley Malt on Amazon below. Canadians can find it online at well.ca, as well. Stored in the fridge, it lasts forever! It’s a great addition to bagels if you are a bagel baker as well. If you can get your hands on some, you’ll find it adds a nice note to these rolls and I think it’s well worth seeking out, especially for bakers, as it is a nice pantry addition.
What is Barley Malt Syrup?
Barley malt syrup is an unrefined sweetener processed from malted barley. Barley Malt is what gives New York bagels their characteristic flavour and texture. Malt syrup is dark brown, thick and sticky, and possesses a strong distinctive flavor described as “malty”. It is about half as sweet as refined white sugar.
What can I substitute for Barley Malt Syrup?
You can use about 2/3 as much molasses in place of barley malt syrup. I would suggest a fancy molasses (not a blackstrap).
Make perfectly shaped finished rolls by shaping into balls using this easy technique! Portion out your dough into equal-sized pieces. Take on piece of dough and stretch the sides (at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock position out about an inch, then under, pinching together where they meet underneath. Repeat by stretching from the 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock position. Flip the ball over and pinch in all together underneath. You should have a ball with a taught, smooth top. This surface tension makes for lovely shaped rolls as they bake!
If you want to copy Colicchio’s restaurant presentation, break off four rolls and place them in small square cast iron skillets like these ones.
Get the Recipe: Colicchio's Dinner Rolls
- 3/4 cup (177.44 ml) warm milk, about 110F
- 1 tsp (4.93 g) instant or dry active yeast
- 1 tsp (4.93 ml) Barley malt, or 2/3 tsp molasses
- 2 cups (250 g) all purpose flour
- 1 1/4 tsp (6.16 g) coarse Kosher salt, or 1 tsp fine table salt *reduce if using salted butter
- 2 1/2 Tbsp (36.97 g) unsalted butter, softened
- Melted butter, for brushing
- Finishing Salt, such as Fleur de Sel or Maldon's
- Stir together milk, yeast, and malt syrup in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a kneading hook. Let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Add to milk mixture along with softened butter and stir with a wooden spoon or mix with mixer until a dough forms. Knead 5-6 minutes, adding additional flour as needed, to produce a smooth, moist dough.
- Remove to a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 2 - 3 hours. *Trust your eyes here and not the clock. You will want to let the dough rise until it has doubled in size, however long that takes. I find it helpful to rise in an 8-cup glass measuring cup, so it's easy to see when it has doubled.
- Punch down dough and let rise again until doubled again, about 2 hours (or until doubled in size).
- Meanwhile, melt a bit of butter and brush on a 9x5-inch loaf pan. Set aside.
- Remove dough to a floured surface and divide into 8-10 equal sized pieces. Form pieces into balls and place into the buttered 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. (4 or 5 rows of two rolls, spaced evenly in the pan). Cover pan with a clean tea towel and let rise until puffy and about doubled, about 2 hours more.
- Preheat oven to 350F. When rolls are risen, brush with melted butter and bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until golden. Remove from oven. Let stand a minute, then remove from pan to a cooling rack. Brush with more melted butter and sprinkle tops with finishing salt. Remove from pan and serve warm.
Any thoughts on making them the night before and putting in the fridge to shorten the rising time?
Hi Jill, I think putting them in the fridge would extend the rising time as the cold would slow it. That said, an overnight fridge rise might equate to one of the rises of the 3 here. That would end up with you baking them mid-day though and you’d miss out on the “fresh from the oven” for dinner thing, when they are really best.
Gorgeous dinner rolls, they look so fluffy and delicious!
They absolutely look like they’re worth the wait Jennifer! So fluffy!
Thanks Mary Ann :)
These look like the BEST rolls ever, Jennifer!! I would be so tempted to eat the entire batch myself, especially as soon as they are pulled out of the oven (with butter, of course ;) ). So perfect for the holidays!
Thanks Dawn and yes, they are hard to share ;)
I am drooling, Jennifer!! These rolls look absolutely perfect! SO fluffy and tender! Tom Colicchio is a genius, so I’m betting these taste even better than they look! These would make a wonderful addition to any holiday dinner (or honestly, I want to make these and call them my dinner!)!
Thanks Cheyanne and yes, I would be happy with just rolls (and maybe a bit of gravy :)
My mouth is watering. I can taste with my eyes how delicous these soft, tender rolls are. And I can only imagine the delightful aroma as they bake!
Thanks Chris! They really are very delicious rolls. Worth the time, for sure :)