I have tried to make bread rolls a few times without much success (despite the abundance of ‘easy’ bread roll recipes out there…)
Small, dense, rock-hard failures kept coming out of the oven, so I sort of gave up on making them.
However, giving up is not in the spirit of my blog, so I thought I had better attempt them again. And this basic bread roll recipe turned out to be great!
Having now made some edible bread rolls (yay!) I have a clearer picture of what I was doing wrong. I think three things contributed to my unsuccessful attempts…
1. My lack of experience
2. My expectations
I have come to realize that what I thought was a bread roll, is not what most recipes think a bread roll is (bear with me!)
I think the confusion lay in the name. For me, a bread roll is quite a large bun-type thing, light and airy and maybe handy for a sandwich.
But actually there are loads of different types of bread rolls. For example, dinner rolls are small and crusty, french rolls are a bit sweeter, burger buns are bigger.
Then there are lots of different names for bread rolls (often depending on where you live). Buns, rolls, baps, barm cakes…
So now I’m less worried when the rolls are not light and airy, because sometimes they are meant to be smaller and able to dip in a soup.
3. Recipe complexity
Bread rolls seem like they should be quite simple to make, but they can be quite difficult. Especially if, like me, you jump straight into quite tricky recipes (without realizing it!)
There are lots of different methods for making bread rolls. Some involve gradually adding the flour. Also proving times differ. And some recipes enrich the dough with milk and butter.
But actually, the basic ingredients in bread are quite simple. Obviously the rolls will probably be better if enriched with other things like milk or butter, but if you are just starting out like me, then simple is the best way I think!
After working out the ingredients, the method I tried was one that was closest to the way I normally make bread. I’m sure I will find out why it is better to add the flour, rather than water, gradually. But for now, with my limited experience, I thought it was better not to over complicate.
So here we go:
Basic Bread Rolls (makes 12)
- 500g/1lb all purpose/plain flour
- 10g/1½tsp instant yeast
- 7g/½tsp salt
- 40g/1½tbsp honey
- 20g/1½ tbsp vegetable oil
- 300ml/1¼ cup water
- Measure the flour into a bowl (I use the bowl from my mixer, then attach it straight onto the mixer when it is time to knead it).
- Add the salt, honey, yeast and oil to different areas of the same bowl. I normally put the salt and yeast on opposite sides of the bowl, the oil in a little dip in the middle of the bowl and the honey at another side of the bowl.
- Add the water gradually. I use a dough hook in my mixer, so as it is mixing I add the water. I kneaded the dough for 3 minutes on a slow setting and then on medium for another 3 minutes. If you do it by hand, mix the ingredients in a bowl, add the water gradually and then when all the water is added, turn out the dough and knead it for about 10 minutes.
- Put the dough in an oiled bowl in a roomy plastic bag, or cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise until it has doubled in size. This took about 2 hours as it didn’t seem to be rising well. But normally, one hour is enough.
- Turn out the dough onto a surface, and knead it for about 5 minutes. Weigh the dough and divide it by 12 to work out what each roll should weigh. Mine weighed about 850g so each roll was about 70g.
- Flatten each ball of dough and then bring all the edges into the middle to make a ball. Turn it over so the seam is on the bottom, cup your hand over it and roll it around until it is smooth on the top and sides. The seam should always stay at the bottom, so the rolling action is more like a swirl than a full roll. Sometimes, if I am having difficulty shaping the dough, I use the sides of my palms (the edge below my little fingers), to cup the edges of the ball and rotate it on the counter top.
- Put them in a 9 x 13 inch (23 x 33cm) dish with space in between each one, about an inch.
- Put the dish in a roomy plastic bag and seal it with a clip. Then leave it to rise for about 30-45 minutes.
- Heat the oven to 400ºf/200ºc. When the dough has risen enough, put the dish in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes.
- When the rolls come out they are joined together at the sides. If you tap the bottom of a roll and it sounds hollow, then it is cooked.
- Leave to cool on a wire rack and then break them apart. They can be eaten straight away or put in a bag and frozen.
Still to master…
These basic bread rolls were great. They have a good structure and taste delish! But there are a few things I still need to master:
1. I would like to try to make bigger rolls, so I may try dividing the dough into fewer rolls, or giving them a longer second rise.
2. The structure of the bread was good, it held up well but would also like to try making rolls with a lighter, less dense structure.
3. Using bread flour might help them rise better, so I will experiment with different flours.
4. And there is, of course, the enriched dough, maybe adding milk or eggs. We shall see!
So there you have it. Basic bread rolls with some lessons learned along the way. Let me know if you try this recipe!
Like this post? Check out these related blog posts:
- Bring on the Bread
- A Little Extra Goodness
- 8 Top Tips for Sourdough Success
- How to Make Beetroot Bread
- 5 Great Baguette Making Tips