Nearly every Sunday I make a big batch of bread dough. I use part of it on Sunday for our big meal and the rest gets turned into pizza dough, breadsticks or cheese rolls throughout the week. The recipe is so versatile that it covers all my bases for the week. I just store the leftover dough in the refrigerator and pull it out when I need it.
I received this recipe from a friend years ago when she taught me how to make rolls. It has been such a wonderful recipe that it is still the one I turn to most. It makes a large amount of dough and can be halved. The full recipe makes 36 large rolls (one cookie sheet full) or 4 freeform loaves of french bread. Most often I will use half of the dough on Sunday to make 2 loaves of French bread or 1 1/2 dozen rolls. The rest of the dough is split into 2 and makes a large pizza one night and breadsticks or cheesy bread the other.
I have made the dough with all purpose flour, bread flour and whole wheat flour. Most often I will mix white bread flour and whole wheat bread flour. Sometimes I substitute milk or buttermilk for the water or I'll throw an egg or two in for extra richness. I also sometimes will use honey in place of the sugar. Basically anything goes as long as you follow the basic recipe, like I said, it's very versatile. If your looking for an easy all-purpose recipe than this is a great start.
Rolls, Bread, Etc...
4 cups warm water
1/2 cup sugar
4 TBS. SAF instant yeast
1/4 cup oil
4 tsp. salt
8-10 cups flour
1 egg white, lightly beaten, optional
sea salt or other course salt, optional
1. In the bowl of a mixer combine the water, sugar and yeast. Let sit for 10 minutes to allow to foam up.
2. With the mixer running, add the oil and a cup or two of flour. Then add the salt and another cup of flour. Keep adding the flour until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Let knead in the mixer for 10 minutes.
3. Remove from the bowl onto a floured surface and knead into a smooth ball. At this point you can divide the dough up, place the portions that you aren't going to use right away into lightly oiled bowls and refrigerate. Shape the remaining dough into desired shape and place on an oiled cookie sheet and cover with a towel. (If desired you can brush the dough with a lightly beaten egg white and sprinkle with sea salt before rising)
4. Preheat the oven to 350°. Let the rolls/bread/etc. rise for 15-20 minutes or until doubled in size and puffy. Bake rolls for about 18-22 minutes, bread for about 26-30 minutes or until golden and cooked through. (If making a full cookie sheet of rolls (36), bake for about 24 minutes)