Thanksgiving Rolls

Thanksgiving Rolls
 

Have you ever been to a Thanksgiving dinner where there were poor quality rolls?

There are so many great flavors at the table - roasted turkey, buttery potatoes, cranberry relish, vegetable casseroles -and they deserve a dinner roll of the same quality. Whether you make small sandwiches or just use them to mop up excess gravy, you shouldn’t use something that tastes like cardboard or doesn’t spring back when you press on it. So here are a few recipes if you’re looking to step up your roll game this Thanksgiving or anytime the need arises! I find that larger varieties of these rolls make excellent burger buns.

This post is also published on the New England Travel Journal.

Brush your rolls with melted butter for a beautiful and tasty sheen.

Brush your rolls with melted butter for a beautiful and tasty sheen.

Basic Wheat Rolls

Let’s start light and easy. These rolls are a perfect combination of stretchy pull-apart pain de mie rolls and the heartiness of a 100% whole wheat roll. I’ve used 50/50 bread flour/whole wheat flour. I find this is enough bread flour to provide lightness and elasticity and enough whole wheat to still be hearty but not dense. For extra flavor I milled red fife, a heritage variety of wheat, but if you can’t source that, regular whole wheat works just fine.

Total Weight: 750g (about 2 dozen small rolls, 1 dozen medium rolls, 8 large rolls)

Ingredients
206g Red fife flour (50%)
206g Bread flour (50%)
144g Water (35%)
82g Whole Milk (20%)
8g Salt (2%)
62g Butter (melted) (15%)
33g Maple Syrup (or honey) (8%)
8g Yeast (2%)

Warm the milk to room temperature and melt the butter. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Activate the yeast in warm water and combine the milk, butter, and maple syrup, then add to the dry ingredients. Mix by hand until a cohesive dough forms.

Let rise in a covered bowl for 90 minutes, deflating and folding the dough after 15/30/60 minutes. After 90 minutes, divide into individual pieces and shape into roll. For small/medium/large rolls, I use 30/60/90 grams of dough per roll.

Place the rolls in a greased cast-iron pan, cover, and let proof for 50-60 minutes. During this proof, preheat your oven to 425F. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until the tops brown. Brush with melted butter after they finish baking.

Garlic Snakes (Knots)

Next up is a slight variation on the previous recipe that ends up having a fairly different character. I’ve removed the whole wheat for maximum fluff and added garlic directly to the dough. After baking, I recommend brushing with garlic butter for maximal deliciousness. Warning: these are profanity-inducingly good.

Total Yield: ~18 knots.

Ingredients
Same as Basic Wheat, except substitute bread flour for the whole wheat flour, and add 6 cloves of garlic, lightly sautéed.

Follow the instructions above for the wheat rolls, folding the garlic into the dough after you’ve assembled it, until the divide and shape step. Divide your dough into pieces of about 40 grams in weight. To make a snake, take a piece of dough and roll it out into a long tapered tube. Knot with a simple over-under knot and place on parchment paper to rise for 50-60 minutes.

I like to steam this version of the rolls. I use a combo cooker, but any dutch oven will work. The steam develops a crust while leaving the insides moist. Remove the lid at around 15 minutes to ensure that rolls brown.

Seeded Sourdough Rolls

Here’s another variation that ferments some of the flour overnight. This adds complexity to the flavor. I’ve also added seeds for extra heartiness.

Total Weight: 750g (about 2 dozen small rolls, 1 dozen medium rolls, 8 large rolls)

Ingredients
192g Red fife flour (or whole wheat) (50%)
192g Bread flour (50%)
19g Chia Seeds (5%)
19g Flax Seeds (5%)
134g Water (35%)
77g Whole Milk (20%)
8g Salt (2%)
57g Butter (melted) (15%)
31g Maple Syrup (or honey) (8%)
15g Sourdough Culture (4%)
8g Yeast (2%)

Preferment
96g Red fife
77g Water
15g Sourdough Culture

Final Dough
96g Red fife flour
192g Bread flour
19g Chia Seeds
19g Flax Seeds
57g Water
77g Milk
8g Salt
57g Butter (melted)
31g Maple Syrup (or honey)
8g Yeast

Twelve to sixteen hours before you make the final dough, assembled the preferment. Dissolve the sourdough culture in the milk, then mix in the flour.

The next day, assemble the dough. Warm the milk to room temperature and melt the butter. Mix the dry ingredients except for the seeds in a bowl. Activate the yeast in a small amount of warm water, using the rest to dissolve the preferment. Combine the yeast water and dissolved preferment with the milk, butter, and maple syrup, then add to the dry ingredients. Mix by hand until a cohesive dough forms, then fold in the seeds.

Let rise in a covered bowl for 90 minutes, deflating and folding the dough after 15/30/60 minutes. After 90 minutes, divide into individual pieces and shape into roll. For small/medium/large rolls, I use 30/60/90 grams of dough per roll.

Place the rolls in a greased cast-iron pan, cover, and let proof for 50-60 minutes. During this proof, preheat your oven to 425F. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until the tops brown. Brush with melted butter after they finish baking.

Bourbon-Maple-Bacon Rolls

If you’re looking for something really exquisite, look no further. These are intense. I’ve also tested these with facon (Lightlife Smart Bacon, to be specific) and they’re just as good!

Total Weight: 750g + weight of the bacon (about 2 dozen small rolls, 1 dozen medium rolls, 8 large rolls)

Ingredients
309g Bread flour (75%)
103g Whole wheat flour (25%)
144g Water (35%)
62g Whole Milk (15%)
41g Bourbon (10%)
7g Salt (1.8%)
41g Butter (melted) (15%)
33g Maple Syrup (or honey) (8%)
8g Yeast (2%)
6 strips of Bourbon-Maple Bacon

First, make the bacon. Cook as per the package instruction. Toward the end of the cooking time, pour a mixture of 10g maple syrup and 10g bourbon (NOTE: these are separate from the amounts above) over the bacon in the pan. Drain the bacon once it is done to your liking.

Follow the directions for the whole wheat rolls, adding the bourbon in with the liquids and folding the bacon in once the dough has been assembled.

Hopefully there’s something you like here. I find the whole wheat roll recipe is a good template for experimenting with other fold ins, so feel free to experiment!

~Valentine