If I could choose any roll in the history of rolls, these may be THE rolls. I love the combination of parmesan, herbs with a little crispy crust on the outside and soft tender middle. We’ve been making these rolls for years with commercial yeast, but I’ve recently started making them into a sourdough version, and they are just incredible. The slight sourdough tang pairs so well with the cheesy herb mixture. A match made in heaven! Make sure you try these parmesan herb sourdough rolls soon. You won’t regret it!
Important Ingredients in Parmesan Herb Sourdough Rolls
Water: Use warm or room-temperature water.
Olive Oil: Olive oil makes the crumb of these rolls soft and tender. You can substitute any neutral-flavored oil if desired.
Honey: Honey helps balance the flavors in these rolls. Parmesan herb sourdough rolls are not overly sweet.
Salt: Salt enhances the flavor, tempers fermentation and helps the structure of the rolls. Don’t leave it out.
Parmesan: I buy good quality parmesan cheese. Shredding it yourself is always best, but you can use pre-shredded if desired. There’s parmesan in the actual rolls and on the outside of the rolls. I have not tried the very fine parmesan in a can with this recipe.
Bread Flour: I almost always use bread flour for any bread that I am kneading. The higher protein content and properly activating the gluten result in a lighter/springy baked good.
Dried Herbs: I love the combination of oregano and basil in these rolls. If you have a different dried herb you love, go ahead and add it.
Melted Butter/Olive Oil: These rolls are dipped in a melted butter/olive oil mixture before being placed in the pan. This gives them a little crispy crust if you use a metal pan and makes them extra delicious.
Sourdough Sample Schedule for Parmesan Herb Sourdough Rolls
A sample baking schedule helps me when baking with sourdough. Sourdough takes much longer to rise than traditional bread. This schedule helps me plan my bake.
Note: This schedule assumes the dough temperature will be maintained at 78-80 degrees F throughout the process.
|8:00 PM – 8:00 AM||Mix Levain (1:10:10 ratio). Let rest overnight.|
|Day 2||Mixing/Bulk Fermentation/Shaping/Baking|
|8:00 AM – 8:15 AM||Mix Dough|
|8:15 AM – 12:15 PM||Begin Bulk Fermentation|
|12:15 PM – 12:30 PM||End Bulk Fermentation (Optional: Cold Bulk Fermentation overnight)|
|12: 30 PM – 3:00 PM||Let rolls rise in a warm (78-80+ degree F) place for 2-3 hours until puffed up and touching. Do not bake unless dough has puffed up and risen.|
|3:00 PM –|
|Preheat oven to 375 degrees F|
Bake rolls for 25-30 minutes until baked through.
Looking for More Delicious Roll Recipes?
Mixing the Levain
For this recipe I use a 3-4 hour levain (1:1:1) ratio.
- 65 grams ripe/mature sourdough starter
- 65 grams all-purpose or bread flour
- 65 grams water
Before mixing, take the temperature of the sourdough starter and flour. If it is colder than the 75-80 degree range, use warm water to mix the levain. If the ingredients are warmer than 75-80 degrees, use cooler water. The goal is for the levain to be in the 75-80 degree temperature range. After mixing, cover loosely and let sit for about 3-4 hours (at 75-80 degrees F). If you want to mix levain overnight instead, mix a 1:10:10 levain with 8 grams ripe sourdough starter, 80 grams flour and 80 grams water. Let sit for 10-12 hours until bubbly, doubled in size and barely beginning to fall back down.
Mixing the Dough
Set the bowl of a stand mixer on a kitchen scale. Add the ripe levain and all the ingredients to the bowl. If you want to reserve a little of the flour to add in as you mix, you can to help account for excess liquid or humidity. Start the mixer and knead the dough together for about 8 minutes until smooth. Add a little extra flour as needed. This dough will be tacky, not super sticky. Add in the parmesan cheese and knead for another 2 minutes until combined.
Move the dough to a container for the “bulk” (unshaped) fermentation. Do your best to keep the temperature of the dough at 78-80 degrees F. I use a bread proofer in the winter to help the dough develop at the right temperature. Cover the container. The entire bulk fermentation will take about 4-5 hours (depending on the temperature). By the end of bulk fermentation, you may notice the dough is more cohesive, strong and aerated. It will have risen a little, maybe as much as 30-40%.
Cold Bulk Fermentation Option
If you want to split this recipe up into multiple days, you can refrigerate the dough after the 4-5 hour bulk fermentation. Place the covered dough in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours. When you’re ready to shape the Hawaiian rolls, pull the dough out of the refrigerator and shape into rolls according to recipe directions. The dough may take a little bit longer to rise as it comes up to the 78-80 degree F dough temperature.
Shaping Parmesan Herb Sourdough Rolls
After the bulk fermentation, it’s time to shape the rolls. Dump the dough on a countertop and use a bench scraper to separate the roll dough into 24 pieces. Take each piece of dough and pull/pinch up the sides until it forms a ball. Roll the ball on the counter, holding your hand in a cupping shape (see video here) to seal the balls and create tension.
Prepare the Topping: Mix together the melted butter, oil, parmesan cheese, garlic, dried herbs and salt. This will be a fairly thick mixture.
Roll each ball of shaped dough in the topping mixture. Do your best to spread it out evenly among the rolls. Place the rolls in a 9 by 13 baking pan, nestling them in together in a 4 by 6 grid. I like the crispiness from a metal pan, but If you prefer a less crispy bottom to your rolls, line the pan with parchment paper.
Proofing Parmesan Herb Sourdough Rolls
Cover the rolls with a kitchen towel and let rise for two to three hours until puffed up and very soft. Keeping them in a warm place (78-80+ degrees F) is best for optimal fermentation and rise. After a few hours, take a finger and press into one of the rolls. If the roll springs back immediately with no indentation left, the rolls need more time to rise. If the indentation springs back just a little, it’s time to bake. The rolls will be aerated and risen. They will not feel dense. Don’t bake them if they haven’t risen. Give them a little more time. I often place the pan in my oven with the light on. This provides a pseudo-proofing box for my rolls that keeps them warm and encourages a rise.
Baking Parmesan Herb Sourdough Rolls
Once the rolls have risen, are touching and feel light and airy, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake the rolls in a preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes until baked all the way through. Enjoy! These rolls make a great addition to a nice dinner and the leftovers make great mini sandwiches the next day too.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I store leftover parmesan herb sourdough rolls?
Once the rolls have cooled, stick in an airtight container. Leave at room temperature for 24-48 hours or freeze in an airtight container to preserve freshness. Freeze for up to 3 months. Reheat/warm before serving.
These make the perfect sandwiches. Can I make them larger?
Yes! If you prefer a larger roll, separate the dough into 12 or 16 pieces depending on the size you want. Add a few extra minutes to the baking time for larger rolls.
Can I substitute sourdough starter for the levain?
Yes. If you have ripe/bubbly/active sourdough starter, you can substitute it for the levain in this recipe.
Parmesan Herb Sourdough Rolls
Levain (1:1:1, ready in about 3-4 hours if kept at 78-80 degrees F)
- 65 grams sourdough starter ripe, bubbly and active
- 65 grams all-purpose or bread flour
- 65 grams water
Parmesan Herb Sourdough Roll Dough
- 175 grams levain, ripe/bubbly/active about 2/3 cup, see recipe notes
- 385 grams water about 1 2/3 cups
- 45 grams olive oil or other neutral-flavored oil, about 3 Tablespoons
- 40 grams honey about 2 Tablespoons
- 14 grams salt about 2 teaspoons
- 810 grams bread flour 12.5% protein content, about 6 cups
- 60 grams parmesan cheese, grated about 3/4 cup
Parmesan Herb Topping
- 45 grams unsalted butter melted, about 3 Tablespoons
- 45 grams olive oil about 3 Tablespoons
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed or minced about 1 Tablespoon, see recipe notes
- 40 grams parmesan cheese, shredded about 1/2 cup
- 1/2 teapoon dried oregano about 1 gram
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil about 1 gram
- 1/2 teaspoon salt about 3 grams
Mix Levain (1:1:1, ready in about 3-4 hours if kept at 78-80 degrees F)
- Mix together 65 grams of ripe/bubbly/active sourdough starter with 65 grams all-purpose flour and 65 grams water. Cover and keep levain at 78-80 degrees Fahrenheit for 3-4 hours until bubbly, active and ripe.
Parmesan Herb Sourdough Rolls
- To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix together the ripe levain, water, oil, honey, salt and bread flour. I like to reserve about a cup of bread flour and add it in as the dough kneads together, making sure that I'm not adding too much flour to the dough.
- Knead together for 8-10 minutes, adding the rest of the flour as needed, until the dough is soft and smooth. The dough should be tacky to the touch, not overly sticky. If it is very sticky, add a little bit more flour, about 20-30 grams at a time. Add the 60 grams of parmesan cheese and knead for another minute or two until combined.
- Bulk Fermentation: Put the dough in a container and cover. Set the dough in a warm, 78-80 degree F place for 4 hours. Take the temperature of the dough as needed to maintain the dough temperature right around 78 degrees F (I use this bread proofer to keep my dough temperature consistent). 78 degrees F is optimal for fermentation.
- At the end of about 4 hours, the dough should be puffed up and feel very elastic. If it doesn't feel this way, let it bulk ferment for another half hour, and check again.
- Overnight Option: At this point, after the bulk fermentation has finished, you can cover the dough and put it in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours. Proceed with the recipe the next day, shaping and proofing the rolls before baking.
- Shaping: Dump the dough onto a countertop. Separate the dough into 24 pieces. Take each piece of dough and pull/pinch up the sides until it forms a ball. Roll the ball on the counter using your hand in a cupping shape (see video here) to seal the ball and create tension for the roll to rise.
- Topping the Rolls: Mix together the topping ingredients. Dunk each shaped roll into the topping, covering the roll completely. Repeat with remaining 23 rolls. Place the rolls in a 9 by 13 pan, nestling the rolls next to each other 4 across and 6 down. If you want a softer bottom on these rolls, line the pan with parchment paper before adding the rolls to the pan.
- Proofing: Cover the pan with a dish towel and let rise in a 78-mid 80 degree F place until puffed up, almost doubled in size and risen, about 2-3 hours. I like to do this in my oven with the light on – do not turn the oven on! Do not bake these rolls if they have not risen.
- Baking: Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Once the rolls have puffed up, doubled in size and are soft and airy, bake for about 25-30 minutes until baked all the way through. Enjoy!