Home cooks are often wary of baking bread—there’s a notion that you need a special oven to get bakery-quality results. And the truth is, most home ovens lack two key components that result in the soft, pull-apart interior and browned, crisped exterior one wants in a dinner roll: a “steam injector,” which adds steam to the oven and allows the dough to expand sufficiently as it cooks—known as “oven-spring”—and enough mass, which enables the environment to stay appropriately hot and moist.
Here, we’ve adapted a technique popularized by Jim Lahey at Sullivan Street Bakery, that essentially turns a covered heavy cast-iron pot, like a Creuset or Staub, into a bread oven.
After mixing, proofing, and shaping basic dinner roll dough, we bake our rolls in the covered pan for about 20 minutes. As they cook, the sealed environment of the heavy pot ensures that the rolls bake in a humid and hot environment that’s critical for oven-spring. Then, to achieve the golden brown crust, we uncover the pot and let the tops bake until golden-brown.
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