The French words “soleil,” and “lune” (sun, moon) provide the name for this old English recipe because the top of each roll bakes up as golden as the sun, while the bottom is said to be as pale as a harvest moon. Sally Lunn rolls have been a part of Southern heritage for so long that Southerners claim them as their own.
Recipe courtesy of Williams-Sonoma and Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New American Cooking Series, The South, by Roy Overton (Time-Life Books, 2000).
- 5 teaspoons (2 packages) active dry yeast
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 cup warm milk (110°F)
- 4 eggs
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 4 cups bread flour
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup mixed chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
- 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon milk
- 18 fresh flat-leaf parsley or sage leaves
- 1 In a small bowl, combine the yeast, sugar and milk. Let stand until frothy, about 10 minutes.
- 2 In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat together the eggs and salt until fluffy and pale lemon yellow, about 5 minutes. Add the yeast mixture and beat until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the flour in three additions, alternating with the melted butter and beginning and ending with the flour. Then beat in the chopped herbs. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
- 3 Preheat an oven to 350°F. Lightly butter 18 standard muffin cups.
- 4 Punch down the dough with a wooden spoon. Scoop out and divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups. Lightly butter a sheet of plastic wrap and place, buttered side down, over the rolls. Let rise again until doubled in volume, about 45 minutes.
- 5 Uncover the rolls and lightly brush the tops with the egg-milk mixture. Lay 1 whole herb leaf on the center of each roll. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a roll comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Turn the rolls out of the pan onto the rack and let cool completely before serving. Makes 18 rolls.