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2000s Recipes + Menus

Rye Dinner Rolls with Crisp Tops

Makes16 rolls
  • Active time:45 min
  • Start to finish:4 hr
April 2009
A basket full of freshly baked rolls adds a welcoming touch to any holiday table. Combining the crunch of a cracker with the tender yeastiness of bread, these little numbers are especially fun.

For rolls

  • 1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 scant cup warm water (105-115ºF), divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus more for kneading and dusting
  • 1/3 cup light or dark rye flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt

For rye-crisp tops

  • 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons light or dark rye flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large egg white

Make dough:

  • Stir together yeast, 1/4 cup warm water, and sugar in a large bowl and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, start over with new yeast.)
  • Stir flours, salt, and remaining scant 3/4 cup water into yeast mixture with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms.
  • Turn out dough onto a well-floured surface and knead with lightly floured hands until dough is elastic and smooth but still supple and slightly sticky, 6 to 8 minutes. Form dough into a ball.
  • Put dough in an oiled large bowl and turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and let rise in a draft- free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 1 to 2 hours.

Make rolls:

  • Punch down dough (do not knead). Remove from bowl and fold into thirds like a letter. Divide into 16 pieces and roll each piece into a ball, transferring to a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet and loosely covering with plastic wrap (or towel). Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Make rye-crisp tops while rolls rise:

  • Stir together flours and salt, then stir in water and oil until a dough forms. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 4 or 5 times. Divide into 16 very small pieces. Roll out each piece on lightly floured surface to a thin round (about 2 inches; shape need not be perfectly round) and arrange in 1 layer on a sheet of parchment.
  • Beat egg white with a pinch of salt and lightly brush some of it onto rounds. Let stand, uncovered, to dry slightly while rolls rise.

Assemble and bake rolls:

  • Preheat oven to 425ºF with rack in middle.
  • Lightly brush each ball of dough with some of egg white. Gently lay a round of rye-crisp dough, egg-wash side up, on top of each roll. Bake rolls until golden-brown, about 20 minutes. Cool to warm or room temperature.
Cooks’ notes:
  • Dough can be formed into balls and allowed to rise slowly, covered well with plastic wrap and chilled, 8 to 16 hours. Bring to room temperature while making rye-crisp tops.
  • Rolls are best the day they are baked but can be frozen (first cool completely, then wrap well) 1 month. Thaw, then reheat on a baking sheet in a 350F oven until warmed through, 5 to 10 minutes.