For this cotton soft recipe I will talk about each ingredient and its consistency in detail. Let's first talk about the yeast. I used "Saf-Instant" active dry yeast. I prefer active dry yeast for such breads because they 't get active.give best results. Before using yeast, always check its expiry date. if yeast is expired or very old it won't give the right result because it won't get active when we put it in lukewarm water/milk. To activate the yeast, one more important thing to kept in mind is milk/water should be lukewarm. The yeast won't get activated if liquid is either on room temperature or hot or warm. To activate the yeast the temperature of liquid is very important.
Second ingredient, butter. Butter has to be on room temperature. It has to be soft. Cold butter didn't get mixed properly and will not get proper consistency of dough.
Third, proofing of dough is most important here. First, after you are done kneading the dough. It takes different time as per temperature but never more than 2 hrs. For some it takes 45 mins only. So, first proofing takes anywhere around 45 mins to 2 hrs. For me it took 1 hr 15 mins. Then after we make the small balls for pav/dinner roll, it needs to be proofed again for 45 mins and it is extremely important. Without second time proofing, it is not possible to get cotton soft rolls. If we do not proof it for second time, it gets baked but they won't be soft and fluffy.
Fourth, Temperature of oven. Temperature has to be 200 C/ 390 F. It is necessary to preheat the over for 10 mins. And it takes 15-20 mins for baking in total. For me it took 18 mins. I checked after 15 mins, they were ready but some of them didn't got the correct color on top. So kept them for two more mins changing the direction of tray. Keeping lightly colored side inside of the oven. It took just 2 more mins and it was done.
Fifth, Measurement. Please use same measuring cup to measure milk/water and flour for correct measurements.
Let me start writing the recipe now and will keep explaining in between.
- 2 cups all purpose flour + 1/4th cup all purpose flour
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 cup of lukewarm milk [Neither room temperature nor warm, something in between]
- 2 tsp dry yeast
- 2 tbsp room temperature soft butter
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp cold milk
- In 1 cup lukewarm milk add 2 tsp yeast and 2 tsp sugar. Give it a light mix. Keep it aside covered for 10-15 mins for yeast to get activated. For me it took 10 mins. After 10 mins you can see a light brown layer of bubbled up yeast on top of milk. If it won't happen, stop right there because that means yeast is not activated. Which means either yeast is expired, very old or temperature of milk is not right. If yeast is activated properly go ahead with further steps.
- Add 2 cups of all purpose flour and 1 tsp of salt with this yeast and milk mixture. Mix them really well. Start kneading the dough by adding rest of the 1/4th cup of flour little by little. Kneading takes around 15-20 mins. Yes, it gives good exercise to our hands. The dough after kneading is going to get together but still sticky. Which is perfectly fine. That's how it is supposed to be. Please do not add more dry flour to it. The dough at the end is supposed to be very soft and little sticky.
- After you are done kneading for around 12-14 mins and you see the dough has started coming little together, add 2 tbsp of room temperature soft butter and keep kneading the dough for few more minutes. Remember after this process also the dough is going to be little sticky and very soft. Which is how it should be.
- Take a bid container, properly grease it with either butter/oil. Keep the dough covered properly with cling wrap in that big container leaving the space to rise it. After 1.5-2 hrs, the dough has risen to more than double. So its necessary to leave enough space and that's why use big container. This process is known as proofing of dough.
- After dough is proofed, lightly press it down. On platform of your kitchen, take it out, fold it and cut 12 equal parts of the dough. If you want to make more bigger size of rolls than shown in the picture, make less parts of the dough.
- In a big baking tray, one by one roll the portion of dough in a ball and keep it on tray leaving enough space to rise again. They get double in size when we keep them for proofing again. Once your are done making all the rolls, cover your baking tray again with cling wrap and let them rise for another 45 mins. After 45 mins, they must have been double in size.
- Now, preheat the oven at 390 F/200 C.
- Take the cold milk, and extremely gently brush the top of rolls with little little cold milk. We don't have to loose the air formed inside them. If while putting the milk on top, air releases, they won't be soft and fluffy as cotton. At that time please try to be extremely gentle otherwise whole hard work will be ruined.
- Bake them for 15-20 mins. It won't take any longer than that. After 15 mins, check them once, if golden brown color is formed on top of them, that means they are ready.
- Let them cool down then use them. When you press them after cooling they come back up immediately. That's a good sign of it.