1 cup of milk, heated (110 degrees F), divided
1 package (2-1/4 teaspoons) of rapid rise yeast
1-1/2 tablespoons of granulated sugar, divided
3-1/2 cups of all purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) of salted butter, softened at room temperature, plus additional butter for the pans, and melted butter for brushing the rolls, if desired
1 teapoon of vegetable oil (for the bowl)
Heat the milk; set aside. Add yeast to a small bowl. Add a teaspoon of the sugar and 1/4 cup of the heated milk to the yeast. Let proof for 5 minutes or until yeast is puffy.
In a large bowl, whisk together 3 cups of the flour, the remaining sugar, and the salt. Add the yeast mixture, the 1/4 cup of softened butter and the remaining milk to the flour mixture. Stir together until dough is shaggy looking, then turn out onto a floured surface and knead by hand, until dough is smooth, sprinkling with a small amount of the remaining flour only as needed. Wipe out and oil the bowl and return the dough to the bowl, turning to coat. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft free place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Generously butter two 8 inch cake pans; set aside. Deflate dough and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Pull off 16 equal sized pieces of dough and form into rolls, placing 8 rolls into each of the buttered cake pans. Cover loosely with a towel and allow to rise again in a warm, draft free place, until rolls have puffed and filled the pan, at least another hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes until light golden brown. Brush tops with the melted butter and serve immediately with some honey butter.
Tips: If you use unsalted butter, increase salt to 1-1/2 teaspoons. When proofing the yeast, if it does not puff up it is dead. Discard and start over. When measuring your flour, use a smaller scoop to fill your measuring cup, then level. If you scoop your measuring cup right into a bag or canister, it compacts the flour and you will use too much, making for a dense roll.
To shape, halve the dough, then halve again so that you have 4 equal pieces. Cut each section into 4 pieces for a total of 16. Roll the dough between both palms to form into a fairly tight ball. Take one dough ball and place it into your palm. Cup the ball with your thumb and forefinger together and use the fingers on your other hand to push the dough up from underneath to stretch and form a smooth top, while pinching the dough underneath together. Once the top is stretched smooth, tuck the edges of the roll underneath, and place into the buttered pan. You should end up with a more smooth, rounded top on your rolls. Rise times are estimates - it really just depends on how warm and draft free your kitchen is.