In a small bowl, combine water, yeast and the 1 teaspoon sugar; stir to dissolve yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy. In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave milk, covered, on 100 percent power (high) for 1 minute and 45 seconds or until heated through (scalded).Advertisement
In a large mixing bowl, combine warm milk, butter, the 1/4 cup sugar and salt. Add 1 1/4 cups of the flour to milk mixture. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed for 30 seconds, scraping side of bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs and yeast mixture. Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour. Beat until combined. Add enough of the remaining all-purpose flour to make a soft dough and clears the sides of the bowl.
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (6 to 8 minutes total). Shape dough into a ball. Place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease surface. Cover; let rise in a warm place until double in size (1 to 1 1/2 hours).
To shape the rolls:
Punch dough down. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half. Cover; let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, lightly grease twenty-four 2 1/2-inch muffin cups.
Divide each half of the dough into thirty-six equal pieces (for a total of 72 pieces). Gently pull each piece into a ball, tucking edges under to make smooth tops. Place 3 balls into each prepared muffin cup, smooth sides up. Cover with parchment paper; let rise in a warm place until nearly double in size (about 30 minutes).
Bake in a 375° oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden. Immediately remove rolls from cups. Cool slightly on wire racks; serve warm.
Wrap the cooled, baked rolls in a single layer of heavy foil. Seal, label, and freeze up to 1 month. To reheat, place baked wrapped rolls in a 350° oven about 25 minutes.