|Active Dry Yeast||7.5||1.5|
Make and knead the dough and let it rise
Put the milk into a saucepan, and bring just to a boil. Pour 4 tbsp of the milk into a small bowl, and let cool to lukewarm. Meanwhile, cut the butter into pieces. Add the butter and sugar to the remaining milk in the pan, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted. Let cool to lukewarm.
Sprinkle the yeast over the 4 tbsp milk and let stand, stirring once, for about 5 minutes, until dissolved. In a large bowl, beat the eggs just until mixed. Add the cooled sweetened milk, salt, and dissolved yeast.
Stir in half the flour and mix well with your hand. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Keep adding flour until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl in a ball. It should be soft and slightly sticky.
Turn the dough on to a floured work surface. Knead for 5–7 minutes, until it is very smooth, elastic, and forms a ball. If the dough sticks while kneading, flour the work surface.
Wash a large bowl and brush it with melted butter. Put the dough in the bowl, and flip it so the surface is buttered. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for 1–1 1/2hours, until doubled in size.
Brush two baking sheets with melted butter. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead to knock out the air. Cover and let rest for about 5 minutes. Cut the dough in half. With your hands, roll one piece of the dough into a cylinder about 2in (5cm) in diameter. Cut the cylinder into eight equal pieces. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Shape the rolls
To shape round rolls, cup a piece of dough under the palm of your hand, and roll the dough in a circular motion so it forms a smooth ball.
For a baker’s knot, roll a piece of dough into a long rope. Shape into a figure of eight, and tuck the ends through the holes.
For a twist, roll a piece of dough into a long rope, fold it in half, and twist. Arrange on a baking sheet and press down the ends.
For a snail, roll a piece of dough into a long rope and wind it around in a spiral, tucking the end underneath. Arrange eight rolls on each baking sheet. Cover with a dry kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes, until doubled in size.
Bake the rolls
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425°F. Make the glaze: beat the egg yolk with 1 tbsp water just until it looks frothy. Brush the rolls with the glaze, sprinkle evenly with poppy seeds, if you like, then bake until the rolls are golden brown. It should take just 15–18 minutes, but do check them often (without opening the oven door), as their small size means they can burn easily. As your baking confidence increases, experiment by sprinkling with different seeds (try sesame, or sunflower), or add a swirl of pesto, anchovy, or tomato purée to a “snail” roll before twisting it into its final spiral shape.
Turn over the rolls and tap the bottoms with your knuckles to test if they are ready. They should sound hollow. Allow to cool slightly and release any steam on a wire rack, then serve the rolls warm, piled in a basket, with plenty of butter for spreading.
Formulation courtesy of The Illustraded Step-By-Step Cook