The dough is enriched with butter, egg, milk, and sugar. To obtain the soft texture of the rolls use a stand mixer to incorporate air into the dough and give it the strength it needs to properly rise. After you make the dough, you can shape the rolls, let them rise, and bake them immediately, or you can just refrigerate them overnight to enhance the flavor.
NOTE: This recipe has been modified from the original recipe found in Emilie Raffa’s book, “Artisan Sourdough Made Simple”. I changed it to use some whole wheat flour, and I tweaked a few of the other ingredients to our taste.
Makes 12 Soft Pull-Apart Rolls
- 240 grams (1 cup) milk, whole or 2%
- 60 grams (¼ cup) water
- 28 grams (2 tablespoons) butter (plus extra for coating the bowl used for the bulk rise and the baking dish)
- 1 large egg
- 200 grams (1 cup) active starter
- 36 grams (3 tablespoons) sugar
- 350 grams (3¼ cups) white bread flour
- 100 grams (½ cup) whole wheat flour
- 9 grams (1½ teaspoons) salt
- Egg Wash
- 1 egg white
- 2 teaspoons of water
- Feed the Starter:
- A few days before baking, feed the starter with enough flour and water to obtain the 200 grams needed to make the rolls. When the starter is active and full of bubbles, store the starter using your preferred method; at room temperature or refrigerated. If your starter is cold from the refrigerator, give it an hour to come up to room temperature before you start making the dough.
- Make The Dough:
- Measure out the flours and salt in a bowl and mix in the salt with a fork. Set aside.
- Warm the milk, water, and butter in a saucepan over low heat, or heat the mixture in the microwave in a microwave-safe container. The butter should be melted, but not hot. If it is too hot, let it cool to slightly warm before adding the liquid to the dough. Set aside.
- Add the egg, starter, and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed to combine.
- Once combined, slowly add the warm milk mixture, followed by the flour and salt mixture. Continue to mix at low speed until it develops a wet sticky dough that looks like a thick cake batter. This should take about 1 to 2 minutes to get the right consistency.
- When finished, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
- While the dough is resting, prepare for the next steps. Feed your starter with fresh flour and water, and store according to your preference. Lightly coat a new large bowl with butter for the bulk rise. Switch out the paddle attachment for the dough hook on the stand mixer
- After the dough has rested, knead the dough with the dough hook on medium-low speed for about 6 to 8 minutes. The dough will not pull together into a ball but it will look shiny and smooth when ready. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once more.
- Bulk Rise:
- Transfer the dough to the buttered bowl. Cover the dough and find a warm spot for it to rise. This could be near a heater, on top of the fridge, in a cabinet, or in the oven with the light on and the oven door slightly wedged open. Let the dough rest until doubled in size, about 6 to 8 hours. In my tropical climate is sometimes only takes 4 hours to double. The bulk rise depends on the temperature, so watch the dough, not the clock.
- Lightly coat a 9x13-inch (23x33-cm) baking pan with butter.
- Remove the dough onto a floured surface and lightly dust the dough with additional flour. Using floured fingertips, gently flatten the dough into a rectangle. Cut the dough into 12 pieces, about 85 grams (3 oz) each, with a floured knife or bench scraper. Gather the ends of each piece of dough together and flip the dough over, and roll each piece into a ball. I find the bench scraper in one hand and the other hand lightly floured really helps shape the dough balls. Place into your pan, 3 pieces across and 4 down.
- Second Rise:
- The dough will need a second rise at room temperature, but you have a few choices on how to proceed: Do the second rise immediately, refrigerate the dough for 8-12 hours, or refrigerate for 2 hours, then freeze for baking another day.
- Same Day Bake:
- Cover the baking pan with a damp towel and let rest for 1 hour or more, depending on temperature. The dough will be puffy, but not fully risen, when ready.
- Skip to the Bake step below.
- Next-Day Bake:
- Cover the dough with a damp towel, or lightly oiled plastic wrap, and let the rolls rest for about 30 minutes before chilling in the refrigerator overnight, up to 12 hours. Return the dough to room temperature before baking, about 1-2 hours. The dough will be puffy, but not fully risen, when ready.
- Skip to the Bake step below.
- Future Day Bake:
Note: The longer the dough is frozen, the more the wild yeast will suffer. This method is just okay and works great for sliders and breakfast sandwiches. I would recommend baking them first and then freezing them to be re-warmed at a later date.
- Cover the dough with lightly oiled plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours, or more. Then freeze them until the eve of the day you want to bake. Place the frozen dough in the refrigerator to thaw. It will need about 10 hours in the refrigerator to thaw. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and return the dough to room temperature before baking, about 1-2 hours. The dough will be puffy, but not fully risen, when ready.
Vacuum Sealed Frozen Roll Dough
- (Tip: If you freeze the dough in the buttered baking pan, you can gently remove the rolls of dough from the pan and place them in a freezer or vacuum-sealed plastic bag. This will free up space in the freezer, and free up the baking pan until you are ready to bake. Just re-butter the baking pan before you put the dough back in the refrigerator to thaw.)
Thawed Roll Dough
- Continue with the Bake step.
- Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Combine the egg white with a splash (2 teaspoons) of water. Brush the tops of the dough for a shiny finish.
- Bake the rolls on the center rack of the oven for about 35 to 40 minutes. When finished, the rolls will have fully risen with a rich golden brown color.
Serve the rolls warm or at room temperature. The soft rolls will stay fresh for 2 to 3 days when stored in a plastic bag at room temperature or up to a week if refrigerated.
The rolls can be reheated by wrapping them in foil and warming them in a 350°F (180°C) oven for 10 minutes.
Burger and Hot Dog Roll Variation: Remove the dough from the bowl after the bulk rise is finished onto a floured surface and lightly dust the dough with additional flour. Using floured fingertips, gently flatten the dough into a rectangle. Cut the dough into 8 pieces, about 125 grams (3 oz) each. Shape them into balls for burger buns, or an oblong shape for hotdog buns. Brush the tops with egg white wash and gently pat down the rolls so they a not plump (the dough will rise back up as they bake). Place them in a large baking dish side by side. Bake at 400°F (200°C) for 25 minutes or until golden brown.