Fast forward many months. I suddenly realized that I was using active dry yeast, rather than the instant yeast these recipes called for. Actually, I knew this all along, but I didn't know what it meant. I went to the grocery store looking for "instant yeast," but only found active dry yeast or bread machine yeast. Since I don't have a bread machine, I assumed active dry was correct (I told you I had no idea what I was doing). And it took me months to even realize that this might be the problem.
Now I understand how that active dry yeast needs proofing. I even remember that proofing involves sugar as well as warm water (yeah, left that out a few times). And since I have an oven with a proofing function, I have a nice, draft-free place to let my dough rise. I have made a few very successful batches of white bread. So the last time I made some, I figured that if I was going to spend most of the day baking, I might as well bake multiple things. So I chose the butter-dipped dinner rolls again.
Epic fail. I have no idea what happened. Truly. I think the dough just gave up. I made two beautiful loaves of white bread and a few dozen flat, tough little bread cookies. Seriously - look at the picture! I really wanted to make dinner rolls for Thanksgiving, to prove to my family that I have conquered bread-making (ok, that's a huge overstatement - I want to at least show them I'm not a total spas). Magic Eight Ball says: outlook not good.
Until, that is, I decided to give up on the Bread Bible (for dinner rolls, at least) and try a different recipe. I have bookmarked dozens of bread recipes from the food blogs I follow. These people seem to bake bread all the time and it works for them! I chose a no-knead dinner roll recipe from Baking Bites. This time I had great success with the rise. Unfortunately, I learned that too much success also equals epic fail. The dough rose like mad. "Let rise for one hour until doubled" ended up being around twenty-eight minutes. If I'd let it rise longer, it would have spilled over the sides of the mixing bowl. When I made the rolls, my bigger baking dish was in the dishwasher, so I went with a slightly smaller version. Obviously, this was not ok: