Brush a large bowl with butter; set aside. In a small bowl, sprinkle yeast over 1/4 cup milk. Let stand until soft, about 5 minutes. In another large bowl, combine butter, sugar, salt, remaining 1 1/4 cups milk, and egg. Whisk to combine. Whisk in yeast mixture.
Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour, 1 cup at a time, until you have a soft dough. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, 5 to 10 minutes. Place in prepared bowl, turning to coat with butter. Cover with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm spot until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Punch down dough. Cut into 2 pieces. Invert bowl over dough, and let rest for 10 minutes. Working with one piece at a time, on a lightly floured surface, roll into a 12-inch square, about 1/3-inch thick. Cut into six 2-by-12-inch strips. Cut each strip into three 4-by-2-inch rectangles.
Brush rectangles with butter. Using the handle of a butter knife, crease rectangles slightly off center. Fold at crease. Arrange in rows, slightly overlapping, on buttered baking sheet, with shorter side facing down. Allow at least 1/4-inch of space between rows. Cover and let stand until doubled in bulk, 20 to 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush rolls with melted butter. Transfer to oven and bake until golden, about 17 minutes, if baking a single strip, about 25 minutes if baking 3 strips at a time (1/4 sheet pan). Remove from oven and brush once more with melted butter.
For freezing: shape rolls; arrange in same manner on parchment lined baking sheet. Transfer to freezer until frozen. Transfer to freezer bags. When ready to bake remove from freezer, arrange on buttered baking sheets. Cover with plastic wrap, and let stand in a warm place until defrosted, and doubled in bulk about 2 1/2 hours. Cook according to step 5, above.