1 1/2 t. active dry yeast
1/4 C. buttermilk, warmed to 100°F.
1 C. buttermilk at room temperature
3 T. butter, melted
2 3/4 C. unbleached white bread flour
1 T. sugar
1 t. salt
1/4 t. baking soda
Sprinkle yeast over warmed buttermilk; set aside in a warm place (80 – 85°F.) for 15 to 20 minutes, until yeast softens and ferments. Mix in the 1 cup buttermilk and the melted butter.
Sift flour, sugar, salt and baking soda into a bowl. Pour liquid ingredients into flour mixture. Using a heavy-duty electric mixer, preferably with the paddle attachment, work flour into liquid to form a soft dough. Transfer dough to a very lightly floured work surface. It may appear sticky at first but resist adding more flour.
Knead dough for about 8 minutes, until smooth, resilient and no longer sticky. Place dough in a large zipper plastic bag or a large bowl and let rest (if in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap) until it has doubled in size — about 1 1/2 to 2 hours in a warm place away from drafts.
Gently punch down dough. Divide into 16 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and arrange in a greased 10-inch-diameter baking pan, spacing them slightly apart. (Place 1 ball of dough in center, then space 9 balls of dough around circumference of pan, and lastly space 6 balls of dough between outer circle and center ball of dough.)
Cover pan with plastic wrap. Let rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until dough has almost doubled in size and is puffy in appearance.
While the rolls are rising, adjust the rack to the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.
Remove the plastic wrap from the rolls, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden on top. Let cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack, then invert the cluster of rolls right-side up onto a platter.
Serve warm or the same day baked.
Yields 16 rolls.