St. Patrick’s Day is one of those holidays that makes a normal day just a little extra special. We love to celebrate with a visit from the leprechaun and a festive meal. Often we’ll serve this Irish Soda Bread to accompany our dinner and some years we choose to make these cloverleaf dinner rolls. We love them for any special meal, though they are especially fun on St. Patrick’s Day. Shaped like a clover, three little bread balls are set in a muffin tin to rise and create the perfect, fluffy, pull-apart dinner roll. Cloverleaf rolls are tender and would be a tasty addition to your March 17th.
Honey and Oil
One of my favorite tips whenever I’m using a recipe that calls for both honey and some kind of oil or melted butter is this: Pour the oil (or butter in this case) in first, then use the same measuring cup for the honey. In the case of this recipe I melt the butter in a liquid measuring cup and then add the honey to the same measuring cup. The honey slides right out and doesn’t stick to the measuring cup.
Bread Flour or All Purpose Flour?
Bread flour really gives these rolls a nice texture. The exterior is chewy and the rolls bake up nice and tall. I recommend getting your hands on a bag of bread flour if you can. If you only have all purpose flour, go ahead and use it, but the rolls might not rise quite as much. Adding about a Tablespoon of vital wheat gluten to the all purpose flour is a good substitute for bread flour in this recipe. And if you don’t have vital wheat gluten, check out this post that tells you all about why you need it in your kitchen.
Eight Minutes of Kneading
One of the keys to good bread and dinner rolls is in the long kneading time. You can knead this dough by hand, but it will be an arm workout. I like to use a Bosch Mixer (affiliate link) or a Kitchen Aid (affiliate link) stand mixer. Any mixer that is fitted with a dough hook should work. When I mix bread dough, I add flour just until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Pinch a piece of dough off, roll it into a ball and notice if you have just a bit of sticky residue left. These are clues that you can stop adding flour. After I’ve determined that the amount of flour is correct, I’ll set a timer and let my mixer go for about 8 minutes. Doing this develops the gluten strands in the dough. These gluten strands are what will trap the gases from the yeast and give your rolls a beautiful shape. If you want to improve your bread skills, start with kneading the dough for a good eight minutes (ten to twelve minutes if you are doing it by hand).
Shaping Dough into Large Rolls
After the dough has risen, it is ready to be shaped. This recipe makes twelve large rolls. If you’d like to make them a little smaller or even four-leaf-clover shaped, cut the dough into more pieces. Separate the dough into twelve (or more) equal-sized pieces. Taking a piece at a time, cut it into three equal-sized balls. Place each ball into the cup of a lightly greased, non-stick muffin tin (affiliate link). Let the dough rise until puffy and just over the top of the muffin tin before baking.
Festive St. Patrick’s Day
If you really want to get festive with these, you could brush the top with a little bit of green-dyed egg wash, like I did with these pumpkin-shaped rolls in October. They would be a lot of fun for a green-themed meal. With or without the green dye, I hope the leprechaun shows up at your house so you can create a little St. Patrick’s Day magic with these cloverleaf dinner rolls.
Cloverleaf Dinner Rolls
- 1 cup 2% or whole milk, warmed temperature of baby's bathwater, see note
- 1 Tablespoon instant yeast
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3 1/2-4 cups bread flour see note
- melted butter for topping
- To the bowl of a stand mixer, add the warm milk, instant yeast and honey. Drizzle in the melted butter and add the salt.
- Turn on the mixer and add three cups of bread flour, a cup at a time. Knead together and continue adding flour 1/4 cup at a time until the dough moves away from the sides of the bowl and you can pinch off a piece, roll it up in your fingers and have just a little bit of sticky residue left on your fingers. More tips for checking the readiness of your dough here.
- Knead the dough for 8 minutes. I like to set a timer to make sure my dough gets the full eight minutes. This helps develop the gluten strands in the dough which gives a better crumb, rise and texture to your bread.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled container. Cover and let rise about an hour or until doubled in size. The warmth of your kitchen will impact how long it takes for the dough to rise.
- Lightly grease a muffin tin (affiliate link) with cooking spray.
- Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a countertop and cut into twelve (for large rolls) or sixteen (smaller rolls) pieces. Take each dough piece and cut it into three equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and place the three balls into one cup of the muffin tin to create a cloverleaf shape. Repeat with the remaining balls of dough until all of the muffin cups are filled with dough.
- Cover and let rise 45 minutes to an hour until puffy and about doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake rolls for 20-22 minutes.
- Top with melted butter as they come out of the oven. Enjoy!
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