If you're using active dry or "highly active" yeast, dissolve it with a pinch of sugar in 2 tablespoons of the lukewarm water. Let the yeast and water sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, until the mixture has bubbled and expanded. If you're using instant yeast, you can skip this step.
Combine the dissolved yeast with the remainder of the water and the rest of the ingredients. Mix and knead everything together—by hand, mixer or bread machine set on the dough cycle—till you've made a smooth dough. If you're kneading in a stand mixer, it should take about 5 to 7 minutes at second speed. In a bread machine (or by hand), it should form a smooth ball.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rise, at room temperature, till it's quite puffy but not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 90 minutes to 2 hours. Rising may take longer, especially if you've kneaded by hand. Give it enough time to become quite puffy.
While the dough is rising, lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan, or two 9" round cake pans.
Gently deflate the dough, and transfer it to a lightly greased work surface. Divide it into 16 pieces.
Shape each piece into a rough ball by pulling the dough into a very small knot at the bottom (think of a balloon with its opening knotted), then rolling it under the palm of your hand into a smooth ball.
Place the rolls in the 9" x 13" pan, or put eight rolls in each of the round cake pans, spacing them evenly; they won't touch one another.
Cover the pans with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the rolls to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. They'll become very puffy, and will reach out and touch one another. While the rolls are rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.
Bake the rolls for 15 minutes, and tent them loosely with aluminum foil. Continue to bake until they're mahogany-brown on top, but lighter colored on the sides, an additional 10 to 13 minutes.
Remove the rolls from the oven, and after 2 or 3 minutes, carefully transfer them to a rack. They'll be hot and delicate, so be careful. Serve warm, or at room temperature.