2 1/4 teaspoons active-dry yeast (1 packet)
2 cups warm milk (105º to 115º F)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 ounce honey (about 4 1/2 teaspoons)
13 ounces all-purpose flour (a scant 3 cups)
10 ounces bread flour (about 2 1/4 cups), divided
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (I use mild flavored olive oil)
Sesame seeds, for topping
1. Make sponge: in the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the milk, sugar, and honey, until dissolved. Sprinkle the yeast over, stir to combine, and let stand until foamy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
2. Add the all-purpose flour. Using the dough hook, mix at low speed until a smooth, thick batter forms, about 2 to 3 minutes. Some lumps are okay. Cover and let stand in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours, or until has risen completely and starts to look fallen in the center.
3. To make the dough: reserve a handful or two of the bread flour. Add the remainder and the salt to the sponge. Knead for 1 or 2 minutes with the dough hook, or until combined. Add the oil gradually and continue kneading for 8 to 10 minutes, adding the reserved flour as needed to make a medium-stiff dough that is smooth and elastic. You may need to add a bit of flour to help the oil absorb into the dough.
4. Transfer to a lightly-oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
5. Deflate the dough, cover, and let rise a second time until doubled in size again, about 45 minutes.
6. Turn the dough out onto a work surface (you may or may not need to flour it), trying to punch it down as little as possible. Divide the dough into two equal pieces, and form the pieces into even ropes.
7. Cut each rope in half, then cut each half into thirds. Form the pieces into round rolls on an unfloured surface, trying to have only one seam or wrinkle in the skin of the dough. Place the dough seam-side down on a baking sheet lined with baking paper, about 2 to 3 inches apart. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and set in a warm place to rest for 10 minutes.
8. Flatten the rolls with a flat object until they’re about 4 to 5 inches across. Spray or brush the tops gently with water, then dust with sesame seeds. Cover loosely again, and let rise until slightly less than doubled in size, about 45 to 50 minutes.
9. Preheat the oven to 400º F. When the oven is hot, bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown on top and baked through. Remove to a rack to cool. Slice horizontally and fill as desired.
1. You don’t have to be very dogmatic about the length of time you let the sponge rest (step 2); you’re just trying to develop some flavor. In fact, you could probably refrigerate it overnight