Makes:20 (2-1/2-inch) rolls
Serve these soft dinner rolls for a holiday buffet with baked ham, roast beef, or sliced roasted turkey, or simply toasted with butter and jam for breakfast. Make the dough with equal parts regular and whole-wheat flour, butter, milk, honey, and eggs. Form it into little round balls, sprinkle with oats or wheat germ, let rise, and bake. Pull apart these hearty, slightly sweet rolls and serve while still warm.
Special equipment: You’ll need a pastry brush and an instant-read thermometer for this recipe.
Lightly coat a large bowl with vegetable oil and set it aside.
Place the flours, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk by hand to combine; set aside.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the milk and honey and heat, stirring, until the honey has dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch but not hot (between 105°F and 115°F on an instant-read thermometer), about 2 to 5 minutes.
Pour the milk mixture over the flour mixture and add the eggs. Fit the bowl onto the stand mixer and mix with the hook attachment on medium-low speed until just combined, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium high and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. (The dough will be sticky.)
Scrape the dough into the prepared bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. (If you’re not baking the dough until the next day, place it in the refrigerator to rise overnight.)
Coat the bottom and sides of a 13-by-9-inch glass baking dish with the butter, using all of it; set the dish aside. (If the dough rose overnight in the refrigerator, let it sit in the bowl at room temperature for 45 minutes before proceeding.)
Transfer the dough to an unfloured work surface and divide it into 20 equal pieces (about 2 1/4 ounces each). Working with 1 piece at a time, cup your palm over the dough and roll the dough on the work surface into a round, tight ball. Arrange the balls so that they are just touching in the prepared baking dish, 4 across and 5 lengthwise (they won’t touch the sides of the dish).
Cover the baking dish tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough balls rise in a warm place until they’re doubled in size, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
Place the water and egg or honey in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Uncover the dough balls and brush them with the mixture. Sprinkle the oats or wheat germ evenly over the tops.
Bake until the bottoms and tops of the rolls are golden brown, rotating the dish halfway through the baking time, about 22 to 25 minutes total. Transfer the dish to a wire rack and let the rolls cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.