Dill Dinner Rolls

The weather has been moody lately, unpredictable in its temperamental swings. The days are hot and humid; the oppressive heat makes me want to sit by the neighborhood pool and eat ice cream until I join the ice cream in melting at the bottom of the pint. The evening skies have an ominous gaze, as heavy clouds gather overhead and the wind begins to sway the tree branches—a punishment for the warm weather. The nights are filled with rumbling and flashing lights, with rain that floods the sidewalks and streets and leaves a ticker of weather warnings scrolling across the bottom of the television screen.

Summer can be a temptress, charming by day and wicked by night.

In the morning, as the previous night's rain begins to clear and the sun is still hiding behind the clouds, it feels like baking weather. Perhaps only the gray clouds can convince me to turn on the oven. Though the yeast in my refrigerator has been ignored for the bounty of summer berries, after an Italian dinner and an incredible loaf of bread, I couldn't resist pulling it out to play around with it again.

With the workout my grill has been getting so far this summer, I wanted to create a bread that would go well with all the roasted potatoes, vegetables, and corn on the cob that was coming off the grill.

Dill has long been one of my favorite herbs. After the countless dill pickles enjoyed on sandwiches and eaten straight from the jar, the herb left a positive impression on me. It wasn't unusual for me to fill an ice tray with leftover dill pickle juice to freeze into popsicles for later. While I've already played around with using dill in cheddar biscuits, I wanted this bread to be a little more adaptable.

This bread is basic recipe that you can customize, if you so choose. While I loved them plain and straight from the pan, you could throw in a bit of cheddar, spread them with cream cheese, or use the rolls to soak up a rich gravy.

Dill Dinner Rolls are made with fresh dill which adds a bright flavor. The bread is spiced with salt and pepper and the addition of olive oil adds a smooth, rich aroma. The bread dough is easy to work with and rises effortlessly. The rolls are baked together in a round pan, making them easy to pull apart to serve. With a spread of cream cheese, the light herb rolls make a lovely accompaniment to a summer meal roasted on the grill.

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Dill Dinner Rolls

Yields 12 dinner rolls

2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup (235 ml) warm milk
1/3 cup (80 ml) warm water
3 tablespoons freshly chopped dill weed (or 2 teaspoons dried dill weed, chopped)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
3 1/2 cups (445 grams) bread flour

In a large mixing bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer), sprinkle the yeast over the barely warm milk and water and allow to sit about 5-10 minutes until activated (looks frothy). Mix in the olive oil, dill weed, black pepper, and salt. Gradually add bread flour, mixing until the dough comes together. If the dough is too dry and will not come together, add small amounts of water until it does. Conversely, if the dough is too sticky, add flour until it becomes workable; however, do not add too much flour or the bread will become dense.

Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface and knead the dough for 7-10 minutes, or until elastic. Alternatively, using the dough hook on a stand mixer, knead the dough for 7-10 minutes, or until elastic. Cover dough with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let rise until doubled in a warm place, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Punch down the dough before turning out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions, roll into balls, and place in a lightly greased 10-inch round pan, spacing the rolls equally apart. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for another 40-60 minutes until doubled.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until bread is golden and sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from baking pan and allow to cool slightly before serving.