I love yeast rolls. And I love my bread machine. I probably wouldn't make nearly as much yeast bread if I had to knead it all by hand. I've done both and I must admit that my bread machine is vastly superior to kneading by hand when it comes to making a very soft bread. The point of kneading to put air into the bread which makes it soft and light and airy. I think I'm too rough on my dough. But my handy-dandy, trusty bread machine does a wonderful job each and every time. I don't know how I lived without the "dough" cycle on a bread machine before.
Another secret to a soft roll? Potato flour. I absolutely adore this stuff. I once ran out of potato flour when I was making a batch of hamburger buns and I could immediately tell the difference. They were more tough than normal. I prefer my buns to melt in your mouth but these felt like they were fighting my burger for room in my mouth. If you make a lot of yeast breads, you need potato flour in your pantry. You won't regret it.
Yeast is not this very difficult thing to work with. Neither does it take as long as you think. So many people are frightened of working with yeast because they read "3 hours" in the recipe and freak out. But most of that time is spent waiting for the yeast itself to rise. You aren't doing anything. Sure, you need to make sure that you read the recipe ahead of time and plan accordingly. No one is going to be making homemade yeast rolls thirty minutes before dinner. Once you work with yeast a couple of times and know what feeling you need in the dough, soon you'll be a seasoned pro!
Soft Crescent Rolls
from King Arthur Flour The Baker's Companion
3 c. All Purpose Flour
2 tsp. Instant Yeast
1 1/4 tsp. Salt
3 Tbsp. Sugar
4 Tbsp. Butter, melted
1/4 c. Nonfat Dry Milk
1/4 c. Potato Flour
1 1/8 c. Water, lukewarm
3 Tbsp. Dough Relaxer, optional
Mix all of your ingredients together and knead. (If using a bread machine, put your ingredients in using the manufacturer's guidelines. Mine is liquid, dry, yeast.)
As your dough is being kneaded, add flour or water as needed to create a smooth, supple dough that is not sticky when you touch it.
Allow to rise for one hour until it's puffy (will probably not double in size). (If you are using a bread machine, set the machine to "dough" and allow it to finish its cycle.)
Transfer the dough to a piece of parchment paper and cut in half.
Roll each half into a circle, around 1/4" thick.
Cut each circle into eight wedges.
Starting at the wide end, roll each wedge up, pinching the tip to seal the roll.
Transfer the rolls to a lightly greased baking sheet and allow them to rise until doubled in size.
While they are rising, preheat the oven to 350.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown.
Allow to cool and enjoy.