One of the joys of traveling in Italy is the continental breakfast that is almost always provided as part of the cost of your hotel or B&B room. And as can reasonably be expected, the size and amount of dishes offered depend almost entirely on the size of the hotel or B&B. So in a small B&B you might just get cold cereal, yogurt, individually wrapped croissants, fresh fruit, juice, and coffee. While in a larger hotel, the variety and choices can be almost endless.
In a medium sized hotel (we didn’t stay in any large hotels) you are almost always presented with a cheese and sausage platter or two, wonderful chewy baguette slices, plastic wrapped biscuits and Melba toast, various pastries including croissants, hard boiled eggs (or sometimes scrambled eggs), fresh fruit, yogurt, cereal (both corn flakes and cocoa puffs), juice (often fresh squeezed), and espresso drink(s) of your choice.
But by far the best breakfast bread I tasted was in our first hotel in Rome. It was a not too sweet, hollow brioche type roll made I’m sure by forming several small balls of dough and placing them together in some sort of a large cupcake shaped pan to bake. So when you broke them open, you had several lovely little concave pockets on which to spread your butter and contain the honey. I’m tellin’ you, these babies were enough to make a grown woman swoon. OMG they were good.
So of course when I arrived home, one of the first things I wanted to duplicate were these wonderful rolls. The difficult part of finding a recipe for a one of a kind roll is, well duh, they’re one of a kind! I have spent hours looking, believe me. But when I do figure it out, you, my faithful readers will be the first to know!
In the meantime I’m going to share the recipe for my first attempt. This recipe is easy to make and produces an absolutely divine tasting roll. And when spread with butter and honey, well it’s just a heavenly experience. These would also be fabulous served at Thanksgiving. So give them a try. But keep posted (so to speak). I have only begun to search for the roll of my dreams.
- 1/2 c. milk
- 1/4 c. butter
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 T. sugar
- 1 pkg. or 1 T. active dry yeast
- 2 T. warm water
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 3 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
- small amount of vegetable oil
- melted butter
Scald milk; stir in butter, salt, and sugar. Cool to lukewarm. Sprinkle yeast on warm water in the bowl of your heavy duty mixer; stir to dissolve. Add the lukewarm milk mixture along with the eggs. Beat in flour a little at a time, to make a soft dough. Knead with your mixer or turn onto a floured surface and knead lightly until dough is smooth and satiny. Pour a small amount of oil over the dough in your mixing bowl and turn dough to coat all of the surfaces. Cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place free from drafts until doubled, about 90 minutes.
Punch down and turn out on a floured surface. Butter 12 standard (1/3-cup) muffin cups. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces using a bench scraper; cut each piece into thirds.
Roll each small piece into a ball. Place 3 balls in each prepared cup (dough will fill cup).
Place muffin pan in a warm draft-free area; lay sheet of waxed paper over the rolls. Let dough rise until almost doubled (dough will rise 1/2 inch to 1 inch above top rim of muffin cups) about 45 minutes.
Melt about a tablespoon of butter in your microwave. Gently brush melted butter over each roll. Bake rolls in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for about 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. (Check after the first 10 minutes. If rolls are already golden brown, cover with aluminum foil for the remaining baking time.) Allow rolls to cool for a few minutes in the baking pan then transfer to cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.