The easiest way to have fresh-baked buns on demand!
In my opinion, there’s nothing more comforting each day than the smell of freshly-baked bread or rolls. For many smaller households, however, bread making might only happen once a week, depending on how long it takes to get through a loaf. I designed this recipe so that I could have a couple of fresh rolls whenever I felt like it. It’s so easy – once the dough balls are made and frozen, you can just pull a few (or a lot) out of the freezer and let them thaw for a few hours before baking. Of course, you can also just make the dough, shape the rolls, let them rise and bake them the same day if you prefer, as this recipe explains. Don’t be daunted by the long method below – these are actually super simple to make; I just wanted to break the process down into very straightforward steps for those who are unfamiliar with the joy of bread making and the associated heavenly aromas. For an extra-delightful taste and aroma, swap in garlic butter for the regular butter in the recipe below. Frozen unbaked rolls would make an excellent gift (be sure to add baking instructions).
- 1 cup (250 mL) milk
- 2 1/4 teaspoons (7 g) active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons (25 g) white sugar
- 2 3/4 – 3 cups (340 – 380 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon (6 g) salt
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 g) each dried basil, oregano, thyme and dill
- 1/4 cup (57 g) butter, softened
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) vegetable oil, for bowl
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) melted butter, for brushing tops
- Few pinches flaky sea salt (Maldon or fleur de sel), to sprinkle on top
- Heat milk in the microwave (about 40 seconds) or on the stovetop until it reaches a temperature of 105F to 110F – do not let it come to a boil. Pour the sugar and yeast over top; stir and let stand for 5 minutes.
- Combine 2 1/2 cups (300 g) of the flour, the salt and the herbs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook (or use a large mixing bowl to prepare dough by hand).
- Cut the butter into 8 small pieces. With the mixer on low speed, add the butter gradually until it is mixed with the flour. (Alternatively, stir the butter in by hand.)
- Whisk the egg into the milk and yeast mixture. Add the liquids to the flour mixture and mix on low speed, until the dough begins to come together. With the mixer still on low, gradually add as much remaining flour as needed, a tablespoon (15 g) at a time, until the dough pulls together in a ball and is barely sticking to the bowl. Note that you might not use the full 3 cups of flour, depending upon the temperature and humidity in your kitchen.
- If mixing by hand, stir the liquids into the flour mixture with a large spoon until the initial flour mixture is mostly incorporated and the dough is beginning to come together. Scatter a tablespoon of flour on a clean work surface and transfer the dough from the bowl to the counter. Knead for 5 minutes, adding flour a tablespoon at a time until the dough is soft but no longer sticky.
- Transfer the dough to a clean bowl which has been lightly greased with the vegetable oil. Cover with a clean cloth or beeswax wrap or plastic wrap and let rise for one hour, or until doubled in size. Punch down to deflate.
- With a sharp knife, divide the dough into 14-16 evenly sized pieces. Shape them into round balls by pulling down on the sides of the pieces of dough, pinching the seam together on the bottom. Place the rolls about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart on a large, parchment lined cookie sheet and place in the freezer until frozen solid, about 3-4 hours. Transfer the frozen rolls to a freezer bag, removing as much air as possible then seal and store in the freezer for up to one month.
- If you prefer to bake some of the rolls right away, don’t freeze all the dough balls. Just place some on a separate parchment-lined or lightly greased baking tray (or use round cake tins if you like) and cover loosely with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Let rise until doubled in size; about one hour, then proceed to baking instructions below.
- Note that I often make the dough in the morning and freeze half the dough balls; the rest I put into a greased cake pan, as above, cover and let sit in the fridge for 6 – 8 hours. An hour before I want to bake them, I remove the pan from the fridge and let the rolls finish rising at room temperature; just before the hour is up I preheat the oven and then bake them as outlined below.
- To bake rolls from frozen, place desired number of frozen dough balls about 1-inch apart on a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheet. Cover with a clean tea towel or plastic wrap. Let rise for about 4 hours, or until doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 375F. Bake rolls for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and brush the tops with melted butter then sprinkle a small amount of flaky salt on top. Serve warm.
Makes 14 – 16 rolls; recipe can easily be doubled.