In bowl of an electric mixer stir sugar into 2 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees) until dissolved. Sprinkle yeast over and set aside until frothy, about 10 minutes. In a large bowl mix together flour and salt; rub in butter with your fingers. Place bowl with yeast mixture on electric mixer fitted with dough hook. Start machine on slow speed and gradually add flour mixture to yeast mixture. Your dough should be firm; add more flour if needed. Mix until dough comes together.
Flour work surface and turn out dough. Knead until smooth and elastic. Oil a bowl and add dough, turning to coat top. Cover and set aside to double in size. Turn out onto a lightly-floured surface. Punch dough down and cut into small workable pieces of dough. Shape into desired shape, such as knots, crescents, breadsticks, round rolls, or Parker House rolls; place on a baking sheet, leaving enough room between them for rolls to double. Cover with a towel and place in a warm draft-free place to double.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. For shiny rolls, brush with egg wash, if desired. Sprinkle tops with choice of suggested garnishes. Bake until golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. For thicker, harder crusts, place a small bowl of water in your oven during cooking to provide steam; you can also spray your oven with a water mister several times during baking.
Yield: 12 to 15 rolls, depending on size