To make a meal special, often all it takes is the simple act of making something from scratch. I find this is true even with some of the most basic meals. One of my favorite ways to add that special homemade touch is bread, and my hoagie rolls are a great example. These crusty on the outside and chewy on the inside buns are so good and make everything from French dip sandwiches to sloppy joes to hamburgers taste so much better. Having a stand mixer and some patience make this recipe much easier, and when these rolls come out of the oven, they will make any ordinary dinner extraordinary!

Belle’s Hoagie Rolls

3 ½ cups flour

1 ¼ cups warm water

2 tablespoons sugar

1 packet active dry yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

4 tablespoons butter, cubed and at room temperature

Add the sugar and warm water in a bowl of a stand mixer. Stir to dissolve. Sprinkle the yeast over top and stir. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes or until the yeast has become foamy. Using the dough hook, add 2 cups of flour and mix on low for about 4 minutes. Add in the salt and another cup of flour. Mix for about two minutes, and then check the dough. It should be sticky but still, be able to hold its shape a bit. Add another ½ cup of flour if needed. Turn the mixer to medium speed for 5-6 minutes. Add in the butter one tablespoon at a time and mix before adding the next tablespoon. Mix until the dough is smooth. Remove from bowl and place in a greased bowl.

Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size — about 1 hour. Punch the dough down and place on a very lightly floured board. Divide into eight equal pieces and shape into logs. Place these on a parchment-lined tray and cover with lightly sprayed plastic wrap. Allow to rise again until almost doubled — about 30 minutes. Don’t let them rise too much; otherwise, the rolls will flatten when baking. Preheat oven to 375 F. Brush each roll with beaten egg and then slash the rolls with a very sharp knife. Bake for 16-20 minutes or until golden brown. To ensure doneness, test the internal bread temp. It should be at 200F.

Brenda Stanley is the mother of five children, including two sets of twins and a grandmother of eight. She is a cookbook author and novelist. For more recipes and information, visit her website www.talesofthedinnerbelle.com.