Whole Wheat Bread Rolls
I cook a lot. Or what might seem like a lot to most people I like to experiment with cooking from my pantry and food storage so that I know exactly how to use everything if I ever need to rely on it. Besides cooking from the pantry and a food storage stockpile makes grocery shopping super cheap!
I personally prefer making whole wheat breads but my husband prefers white. So we compromise and rotate. One week I’ll make whole wheat, the next whole white, and the next maybe a mixture of the two. This is the main bread recipe I use regardless of what kind of flour I’m using:
Ingredients – Be sure to read the copious notes below…
2 cups warm water
2/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter
6 cups flour
Notes on Ingredients:
- Warm water is only about baby bottle, wrist temperature warm. Just enough to activate the yeast but not hot enough to kill it.
- 2/3 cup sugar makes this bread very sweet. My husband loves it but I frequently cut the sugar in half to cut the sweetness. This much sugar also makes the dough rise VERY fast.
- 1 1/2 Tbsp dry yeast is way too much for my liking. It goes through my yeast stockpile too fast and it makes the dough rise so fast that I feel like I’m scrambling to keep up. I personally prefer a slower rise and laid back schedule to baking bread.
If you don’t mind a long rise time, use very little yeast or a left over piece of dough from your last batch. This works really well during hot weather. If the weather is cool or cold, or you want the dough to rise more quickly, use more yeast. Remember, my house is not temperature controlled with heaters and air conditioners so the weather plays a role in my baking.
Sometimes I will add 1/4 tsp of dry yeast if I want to let my bread dough rise all day. If I want to be ready to bake in a couple of hours I might add a full teaspoon instead. Sometimes I don’t add dry yeast at all and instead I mix in left over dough from my last batch of bread.
- I don’t always add salt or I cut the measurement in half because I use salted butter.
- The butter can be replaced by just about any type of fat such as oil or grease. I prefer butter.
- The flour is give or take depending upon your altitude, the humidity in your air and how stiff you like your bread dough.
Mixing, Rising and Cooking
1. Mix the water, yeast, sugar and three cups of flour together into a large mixing bowl.
Cover with a towel to keep dust and flies out, then let it sit for an hour or three… till it looks like it may have doubled in size even though it’s currently the texture of pancake batter.
Some people call this step the “sponge” and it works extremely well with whole grain flours — particularly if you ground the grain yourself. If you’re using all purpose white flour this step goes by quickly and isn’t really needed but it fits with my lazy approach
2. Mix in the butter and salt.
3. Stir in one cup of flour, then add one more cup (for a total of five cups) and mix well.
If you’re having a hard time mixing in the bowl at this point, dump the contents onto the counter and mix/knead at the same time.
Keep the sixth cup of flour on hand and sprinkle it on your dough or counter if and as needed while you’re kneading. You may or may not need the final 6th cup.
4. After kneading for at least 10 minutes, let the dough rest about 10 minutes.
5. Use a large sharp knife and cut the dough in half. Cut each half into halves so that you have four pieces of dough, then cut each of those in half so that you have eight.
If you like large bread rolls then eight pieces of dough is enough. We’ve decided the rolls are too large for everyday use so I divide my dough into about one dozen pieces.
If you want to save dough for starting your next batch of bread, put aside one of the pieces. I put mine into a pint mason jar and put a lid on it.
6. For each piece of dough: Roll or pull into a rough ball shape, then tuck the edges underneath until you have a taut roll shaped dough. it will look sort of like a smoth mushroom cap on top and the tucked in underside will also resemble the underside of a mushroom top.
Technically you can shape the dough any way you want but I find roll shapes to be the easiest.
Lay the rolls onto a floured counter, floured sheets of tin foil, or cookie sheets that can go into the oven. Space them an inch or more apart so they have room to rise.
I personally flatten the rolled mounds a bit like hamburger patties because they rise so much that it’s difficult to use them for everyday sandwiches throughout the week.
7. Cover the dough rolls with a towel to keep off dust and insects, then let them rise as long as you’d like.
Depending upon how much yeast you used, how warm the spot is that you’re letting them rise, and how big you want them, this part can be as short as one hour or as long as four to five.
8. When you’re ready to cook them, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees (F). Once it’s all warmed up, put the rolls in and cook them for roughly 30 minutes.
They will turn golden and you can test for done ness by thumping the bottom of one. It should sound hollow if it’s ready. You can also simply break one open at the thickest part and see if it looks like bread
I personally slide the tinfoil sheets that I had the dough rising on directly into the oven because I don’t have regular sized cookie sheets that can hold big bread rolls. I’ve found that if I flour the counter and let them rise there, I can carefully pick them up with a floured spatula and put them directly onto the oven rack. You have to be careful doing this though or you will lose the rise of your dough.
If you don’t want bread rolls then simply divide your dough into two pieces only instead of eight or 12. Shape the two pieces into bread or put them into bread pans and let them rise.
Over the last six months or so we’ve found that baking the bread into rolls instead of loaves has several advantages.
1. The rolls are like miniature loaves that stay fresh inside because they’re not opened until you’re ready to eat one. Full size bread loaves on the other hand, have a dry section as soon as you start slicing it.
2. One roll can be eaten whole, used as a sandwich, or broken in half if you just want a quick snack or something to sop up your eggs or soup with. Sliced home made bread is sometimes quite large or thick and can be more than you wanted for just a quick sandwich or snack. I personally tend to make a mess trying to slice the bread loaf evenly too.
3. It’s easier to store rolls than loaves. I have a one gallon pickle jar that I use as a bread jar, and and I can simply drop (or push if the rolls are large) the rolls into the jar for easy storage and retrieval through the week. A loaf of bread on the other hand, requires specialty containers that I don’t have. I can cut it up to put in the jar or wrap it in tin foil for storage but both of those methods make my bread dry out too quickly. So I like the rolls