Pillowy and fluffy, these soft yeast rolls made with pork fat have a built-in flavor advantage (and let’s not forget that buttery crust…).
They say that bread makes a meal. And you’re probably going to want some kind of soft and buttery roll on your holiday table. Certainly, the smell of freshly baked bread is nearly as intoxicating as that of frying bacon. BUT WAIT! You needn’t have to choose between them! Ok, admittedly these rolls don’t smell or taste like bacon, but the addition of pork fat to the dough is a real stroke of genius. Yes, I just referred to myself as a genius. But I feel these rolls are worthy of the shameless self-praise. THAT’S how good they are.
I have long been a supporter of using animal fats as an oil substitute in all the things. From deep frying steak bites in beef tallow, roasting up the most phenomenal potatoes and even using silky duck fat to make caramels. Lards and tallows are just delicious, and should not be overlooked as an ingredient in their own right. They are ALL about the flavor. BUT, there’s also an economical side to using lard, because you can save up your trimmings and render your own fat at home. Not to worry if you’re not feeling adventurous enough to tackle it yourself, you can purchase lard at pretty much any grocery store.
If you’re feeling like this is all a bit gratuitous, fear not. Lards and fats have long been used in baking (even for pastries and sweet pies). The addition of lard is not merely a vehicle for flavor. It it also helps improve the texture of the rolls, keeping them tender and preventing them from being dry.
Combine the yeast and warm water in a small bowl. It’s important to get the water temperature fairly accurate – too cold and your yeast will not activate, too hot and the yeast will die.
Prepare a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment.
Melt the lard in the microwave, then add it to a large bowl with the milk, sugar and salt. Add the yeast, and 1 cup of the flour, then mix on low speed with the dough hook until just combined. Add another cup of flour, then mix again until just incorporated. Add remaining flour and egg, and beat on low until the mixture is incorporated, then increase speed to medium and knead for 5 minutes.
Grease a large bowl with 1 tablespoon of oil or the spray oil, then gently pour the mixture into the greased bowl. It will be sticky. Cover the bowl with a cloth, and place in a warm spot to proof for one hour.
Brush the inside of a 9×13″ pan or casserole dish with the melted butter.
Divide the dough into 15 pieces, rolling them into rough balls with your hands, then place them into the pan. Brush the top with melted butter, and sprinkle the tops with a little flake salt. Cover again with the cloth, and allow to proof a further 30 minutes.
Heat an oven to 375f.
Remove the cloth, and place the rolls into the oven. Bake for 25 minutes until the rolls have risen and the tops are evenly brown.
Remove the rolls from the oven and brush with remaining melted butter. Allow to cool slightly then serve. The rolls will easily pull apart from one another.