These pineapple and vanilla scented rolls have a sweet history in Hawaii. Portuguese immigrants came to the Hawaiian Islands in the 1850s, bringing with them their sweetened breads. Refined sugar was scarce and expensive, so immigrants turned to local ingredients like pineapple juice and honey to sweeten their loaves. Aloha means hello and goodbye in Hawaii, and that might be exactly what happens to these rolls. They’ll be gone as soon as you say hello to them. The recipe follows:
Makes 18 Rolls
1 Cup pineapple juice
1/2 Cup milk
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for brushing on rolls
1/3 Cup honey
5 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 Teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast (1 package)
2 1/2 Teaspoons Kosher salt
1 Large egg, lightly stirred
2 Teaspoons distilled white vinegar
2 Teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine pineapple juice, milk, melted butter, and honey in a 4-cup measuring cup.
2. In a large bowl, mix flour, yeast, and salt. Stir until combined. Add pineapple juice mixture, egg, vinegar, and vanilla to flour mixture. Stir until dough starts to come together. Finish kneading by hand until dough forms a slightly sticky ball, 3-5 minutes. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for 2 hours, or until dough has doubled in size, folding every 20 minutes. Do do a fold, gently pull up one side of the dough and fold it over itself. Turn dough 90 degrees and repeat. Repeat 2 more times, turning dough. This counts as 1 fold.
3. Transfer dough to lightly floured surface. Gently shape dough into a rectangular shape, and divide into 3 equal parts. Divide each third into 6 equal pieces. On an unfloured surface with floured hands, shape each roll into a ball by placing a piece of dough between your thumb and index finger and rolling dough in a circular motion with your palm, forming a taught ball. If the dough is sticking to surface too much, lightly flour it and try again. Don’t worry if rolls don’t come out perfect, they’ll still taste good.
4. Arrange rolls on baking sheet in 3 rows of 6. Lightly flour rolls and cover with a kitchen towel. Proof for about 1 hour, or until rolls have doubled in size. Thirty minutes before rolls are done proofing, heat oven to 400 degrees and place oven rack in middle position. When rolls have finished proofing, bake for 20 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Remove rolls from oven and transfer to a wire cooling rack. After 5 minutes, brush rolls with softened butter and let cool for another 30 minutes.
These rolls are great for hamburgers, sausages, and if you’re feeling really native, grilled SPAM.