Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Poppy Seed Dinner Rolls

It is Thanksgiving eve day (let’s just pretend that’s a thing) and prep is fully underway at my house. Our 24-lb turkey is in his brine bath in a cooler in the garage. Cranberry sauce with orange zest and bourbon vanilla is tupperwared in the fridge. Sister1 is making a pumpkin cheesecake and chocolate cupcakes, while I (or Mama) will do a pie this afternoon. And possibly most importantly, the rolls are done!!!

Everyone has their favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner. Sister1 is all about canned cranberry sauce, Sister2 loves the mashed potatoes and gravy. If pressed to pick a favorite, I might have to say stuffing. But we all agree that these Poppy Seed Dinner Rolls go above and beyond all other food fights and make Thanksgiving dinner.

They’re flaky (but not in a croissant sort of way) and buttery and yeasty and just SO GOOD. The recipe is a bit labor-intensive but totally absolutely 100% worth it. Be sure to begin preparing the dough a day before serving because it needs to be refrigerated overnight.

My Mama has been making these rolls since the recipe popped out at her in a Bon Appetit magazine way back in 1995, which means that these rolls have been a part of about 70% of my life. Hallelujah and HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Poppy Seed Dinner Rolls


  • 1 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
  • 2 envelopes dry yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon plus 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled
  • 5 1/3 cups (about) all purpose flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into thin slices
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water (glaze)
  • Poppy seeds


  1. Place warm water in large bowl. Sprinkle yeast and 1/4 teaspoon sugar over and stir to blend. Let stand until yeast dissolves and mixture is slightly foamy, about 8 minutes.
  2. Whisk milk, 1 egg, salt and remaining 1/3 cup sugar into yeast mixture. Add melted butter and whisk until smooth. Add 1 cup flour and mix until smooth. Combine 4 cups flour and 1 cup chilled butter in processor. Using on/off turns, process until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add to yeast mixture and stir until dry ingredients are moistened. Knead in bowl until smooth dough forms, adding more flour if dough is sticky, about 5 minutes.
  3. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate dough overnight. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)
  4. Butter twenty-four 1/3-cup nonstick muffin cups. Turn dough out onto floured surface; knead briefly until smooth and elastic, about 3 minutes. Divide dough into 4 equal portions. Place 1 dough portion on work surface; cover and chill remaining dough. Roll out 1 dough portion on floured surface to 13x11-inch rectangle (about 1/8 inch thick). Cut rectangle lengthwise into 6 strips, each scant 2 inches wide. Stack strips atop one another, forming 6 layers and pressing slightly to adhere. Cut strips crosswise into 6 equal stacks, each about 2 inches long. Place 1 dough stack, 1 cut side down, into each muffin cup (dough will fan out slightly and fill muffin cups as dough rises). Repeat with remaining chilled dough pieces. [If you’re confused about the process, you can watch a video here.]
  5. Cover rolls with kitchen towel. Let rise in warm draft-free area until rolls are puffed and doubled in volume, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  6. Position 1 rack in center and 1 rack in top third of oven; preheat to 350°F. Brush rolls gently with egg glaze. Sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake until rolls are golden brown, switching top and bottom baking sheets halfway through baking, about 25 minutes. Transfer pans to rack and cool rolls 5 minutes. Remove rolls from pans and cool on racks. Serve warm or at room temperature. (Can be prepared 1 week ahead. Wrap in aluminum foil and freeze. If desired, rewarm thawed wrapped rolls in 350°F oven about 10 minutes.)

Just so you know, it is 6:30 am and taking literally all of my willpower not to raid the rolls and eat one for breakfast...ENJOY!