If there is anything that you should learn to make, apart from bread of course, that would be the bread rolls. Be it simple dinner rolls, fancy hot cross buns or versatile burger buns, it is a skill any baking enthusiast would love to have.
I have tried many recipes and tutorials, prior to my culinary education and bakery experience. To be honest, I struggled to get it right mainly because I didn’t know what I was looking for. I wasn’t even trying sourdough versions.
That was 7 years ago and a lot have changed since then. You can actually find good, quality resources on the internet. But, I may have slightly different approach/method, so here is my journal. I will try to mentions every little detail along the way, but feel free to reach me for questions/clarifications either through comment here or IG.
Ingredients and alternatives:
You can of course use any glutenous flour or a combination. All purpose, strong bread flour should be the base. You can mix other flour verities to change texture, flavor at 5 – 20% ;
Fat is what makes rolls softer and help keep soft for longer.
Fat is usually introduced as fat itself, but eggs and milk has fat too. Keep that in mind when you mix and match. You can use any of the fats below;
Oil (Vegetable, canola, olive oil, grape seed, avocado)
Bacon fat ( Inna @flourfloozy should get credit for this idea)
Adding eggs is optional. You can totally skip this process or opt to add just egg yolk for a richer texture. You can also use tofu instead of eggs and get all the effects of adding eggs. 1/4 cup tofu is equal to an egg, but make sure to drain well to remove excess water out.
Optional again. Milk, just like eggs adds extra richness. Increases softness, and sweetness. Keep in mind different milks have different sweetness and flavors. So use a in less % if you are not sure. Use following alternatives;
Cows milk (any fat %)
Nut milk (check if it is sweetened)
Coconut milk (beware of flavor and fat content)
Need only very little. Interchange with any of the following;
Rice malt syrup etc.
Water is the most basic and easy solution here. Feel free to use alternatives as replacement or mixed with water to get extra flavor;
Coconut water etc.
Use either eggs or milk to brush the top. This gives a nice color and shine. Use any of the following to decorate or keep it plain;
Line seeds etc.
Mix everything except the water and start to mix. Add water gradually, until a soft dough is formed. Use a stand mixer with dough hook or use a spatula. Once everything comes together kneed a further minute until dough is smooth. Take the dough out on to a floured surface. Finish kneading by hands. Its okay if the dough is bit sticky. Fold the dough to create a smooth dough ball. check next picture.
Use flour to stop the dough from sticking to your hands. Once it looks smooth like in the picture, place it in a lightly greased bowl.
Cover the bowl loosely with a lid or a tea towel and place in a warm place for the bulk fermentation. (3-4 hours)
I use my oven for this, with a cup of boiling water placed on the bottom rack. Replace with new boiling water once every 1.5 hours.
This is how the dough would look after the bulk. We are looking for a softer puffed up dough which has almost doubled the original volume.
Punch down the dough and fold it back to a tight ball and place back in the same bowl. Cover tightly and place in the fridge until next day.
You can continue to make rolls without retarding. In that case let it ferment a little further and continue the rest of the steps.
Next day, take the dough out and let it thaw for about an hour. When the dough is soft enough to handle, you can move to the next step.
Divide the dough in to 8 equal pieces. The total dough weight might be different each time so weight the whole dough and divide that by 8 to get how much a piece should weigh.
Let the dough pieces rest for about 10 minutes once divided
Shape them into tight rolls. Check this video to get an idea on how to shape rolls. Make sure to get most of the air out from the dough as you roll.
Place the rolls on a tray and once everything is shaped, press each roll to squash it to flatten a bit. (press down on the roll with your palm or fist) check the picture. Notice they are a bit flatter than the roll in the picture above.
Now loosely cover these and place in a warm place until doubled. ( 3 – 4 hours again or might be longer)
Once proofed, place a pizza stone/cast iron tray and preheat the oven to 425 F 0R 220 C. It’s okay if you don’t have a pizza stone, you can still get good results.
Once the oven is ready, egg wash the rolls and decorate the top with sesame. And place the rolls in the oven.
Spay a little water using a spay bottle to create a bit of steam. This is optional.
bake for about 10 minutes, rotate the tray, reduce temperature to 400 F and bake for a further 5 minutes.
Once fully baked, remove from the oven and leave on a wire rack to cool.