High Rise Yeast Biscuits

A few weeks ago I visited a local Kentucky bakery. On a whim I picked up a package of rolls. They looked a little hard on the outside but I was intrigued by the name: Biscuits, though they looked a lot more like yeast rolls. The biscuits were amazing! This lead me on the hunt to try and recreate these rolls, something I’m still in the process of doing. Along the way, I stumbled upon these amazing high rise yeast biscuits. I don’t even want to tell you how many times I’ve made them since…they are so good. Adding yeast to biscuit dough increases the rise, fluffiness and absolute melt-in-your-mouth tenderness of these biscuits. They are the perfect biscuit to serve with Sunday dinner, spread with jam or use with some lunchmeat for a sandwich. I have a few different biscuit recipes on my site that I love for their ease and flakiness, but this one is worth the extra rise time for the tender, melt-in-your-mouth, high rise biscuit.

Jump to High Rise Yeast Biscuits Recipe

Three Rising Agents

A traditional biscuit uses self-rising flour or a lot of baking powder to give it a large oven rise. These high rise yeast biscuits use a combination of rising agents. Instant yeast and an hour rise gives them height and makes them fluffy and delicious. The baking powder and buttermilk react with each other to help create a beautiful rise for the perfect biscuit. One note: I like to use room temperature buttermilk. If you can, pour the buttermilk into a liquid measuring cup before making the biscuits and allow it to come to room temperature. Usually biscuit recipes call for cold butter and cold ingredients to help the biscuits rise in the oven. These biscuits actually benefit from room temperature ingredients (with the exception of the butter) because a warmer environment helps activate the yeast, which gives the biscuits their big rise.

Grated Butter and Shortening

The easiest way to mix up little pieces of butter into dough is to take a cold stick of butter from the refrigerator and grate it. This gives the perfect size pieces of butter for biscuits and is quick and easy, especially if you don’t have a pastry cutter. I also love that the butter pieces are all uniform and combine simply. If you want to substitute the shortening for butter, go ahead. Shortening reduces gluten development or in other words, it shortens the strands of gluten in making biscuits tender and crumbly. Butter, on the other hand, melts in the dough and creates little pockets of steam that lift and puff up the dough. I like including both butter and shortening in my recipe to get a tender, crumbly, flaky biscuit. If you want to just use one over the other, that works. Just beware that you may be sacrificing texture by doing so.

Fold in Half and Top with Butter

I love that these high rise yeast biscuits are rolled out, cut and folded in half before placing in a greased baking dish. The fold gives the biscuits more height and makes them the perfect vehicle for a biscuit sandwich. I think these would be great with some bacon, egg and cheese or even as a nice hearty biscuit to top with some sausage or chocolate gravy. After the biscuits come out of the oven, use a pastry brush to brush them with melted butter. You may think a single coating is enough, but keep coating them until all the butter is used up. The extra butter on top takes these high rise yeast biscuits over the top.

Gluten-Free Option

I made these biscuits gluten-free for my sister who doesn’t eat gluten and she was blown away by how delicious they were. I even sampled some of the gluten-free biscuits and I must say they were delicious. If you want to make these gluten-free, follow the recipe exactly as stated, but substitute in Cup4Cup flour (affiliate link). I’ve found Cup4Cup does a great job in making cookies, muffins, and pancakes gluten-free. If you are looking for a great gluten-free biscuit, these are amazing using gluten-free flour.

Even though these high rise yeast biscuits take a little bit longer than a traditional biscuit recipe, they are worth every hour of that rise time. Still faster than traditional rolls because they only need one rise, you will love having these biscuits at your dinner table! Enjoy!

High Rise Yeast Biscuits

Fluffy, light, buttery and downright delicious. These biscuits have three rising agents, resulting in the most tender biscuit ever. High rise yeast biscuits deserve a special spot at your dinner table.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Bread, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 24 biscuits

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Tablespoon instant yeast see note
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 cups all purpose flour see note
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening Crisco or similar brand
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups buttermilk room temperature
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted for topping biscuits

Instructions
 

  • To a small bowl, add the instant yeast, warm water (temperature of baby's bathwater) and sugar. Set aside while you mix the other ingredients. The yeast will smell yeasty and become bubbly during this time.
  • Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt to a large bowl. Stir together to combine.
  • Cut the shortening into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter (affiliate link), your fingers or two knives. Continue until the shortening is in very small pea-shaped pieces.
  • Using a box grater, grate the cold butter on the edges of the grater. Add the cold butter to the flour mixture. Mix to combine.
  • To the flour/butter mixture, add the reserved yeast and the buttermilk. Mix gently until the dough forms a ball.
  • Turn the dough out on the counter and fold over once or twice, being careful not to overwork the dough.
  • Pat and roll the dough into a large rectangle (roughly 20 inches by 13 inches) and 1/2 inch or more thick. Cut the dough into 20-24 rectangular pieces (depending on how many you want) using a bench knife (affiliate link) or sharp knife.
  • Fold each rectangle in half and place in a greased 9 by 13 baking pan. Continue filling up the pan and nestling the rolls together.
  • Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise about an hour. The time may vary based on the temperature of the buttermilk and the temperature of your kitchen.
  • Once the biscuits have risen (puffed up and approximately doubled in size), preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • Bake biscuits for 20 minutes until golden brown on top.
  • As soon as they come out of the oven, brush melted butter on top of the biscuits. Continue brushing until all the butter is used up. Enjoy immediately!

Notes

Dry Active Yeast: This recipe will also work with dry active yeast. Use the same amount of dry active yeast as you would instant yeast. Be sure to let the yeast mixture sit for 5-10 minutes until the yeast has activated with the water and sugar. 
Gluten Free Flour: If you want to make these biscuits gluten-free, you can substitute Cup4Cup flour (affiliate link) for the all purpose flour in the recipe. I do not have experience with any other gluten-free flours. Cup4Cup works very well in this recipe. Substitute the flour and proceed with the recipe as outlined.
 
Keyword biscuit,, fluffy bread

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All About: Vital Wheat Gluten (And why It deserves a Place in Your PANTRY)

Vital Wheat Gluten. What is it? Is it a staple in your pantry? Why should you have it on hand if you are baking bread? All of these questions I asked myself as I started baking bread many years ago. As I would research a recipe, oftentimes I would find the author recommending vital wheat gluten. Initially I had no idea what it was or why it should matter, but I started using it. I don’t always keep bread flour (or high gluten flour) on hand. If there is one ingredient that has made a big difference in my bread, vital wheat gluten is it. I’ve compiled some information on what it is and why you should have it in your kitchen as a home baker if you want to make some seriously delicious loaves of bread.

What is Vital Wheat Gluten? 

Vital wheat gluten is the natural protein that is found in wheat. It is made by hydrating wheat flour (this activates the gluten) and then processing the flour to remove everything except for the gluten. This gluten is then dried and ground back into a powder and voila: vital wheat gluten! Many people who buy vital wheat gluten use it to make seitan which can be used as a “meat substitute.” It is very popular in some Asian cultures, where it is mixed with water and some spices to form a “dough” and then cooked. It becomes very chewy and has a meat-like texture. 

The Importance of Protein Content in Flour

Vital wheat gluten is made from the protein in the endosperm of a wheat berry. I’ve written about wheat before; if you want to learn more about wheat to pick the best type of flour for your bake, you can read here. Typically, vital wheat gluten is made up of anywhere from 75%-90% protein. The more protein in flour, the stronger the gluten bond is in the flour. A strong gluten bond traps the gas produced by the yeast and gives a strong rise to your loaf of bread. If you are having issues with your bread not rising well or recipes not turning out exactly as you like, check the flour you are using. Protein content matters. 

  • Soft Flour: Anywhere from 5%-10% protein, best used in pancakes, waffles, quick breads where you want soft, tender quick breads and don’t want the gluten to develop.
  • All Purpose Flour: 9%-11% protein, best all-around flour for your kitchen. Can be used to make pancakes, waffles, muffins, breads and give a good result. If you are making bread, add some vital wheat gluten for superior results.
  • Bread Flour (hard flour): 11%-13% protein, best for baking bread (no need to add vital wheat gluten, unless you are working with whole wheat flours).

All Purpose Flour vs Bread Flour

In a standard home kitchen, you may use only all purpose flour. It is the most common flour and has a protein content of anywhere from 9-11%. You can make good bread from most brands of all purpose flour. If you want to make superior bread, it is best to increase the flour’s protein content. You can do this by buying bread flour which has a higher protein content OR you can add vital wheat gluten to your all purpose flour, essentially making your own bread flour. This increases the protein content of your flour, which results in a better loaf of bread. For best results, sift the vital wheat gluten together with the all purpose flour, though if I’m being completely honest here, I often just throw in a few Tablespoons about halfway through adding flour, and it works well too.

How Much Vital Wheat Gluten Should I Add?

When baking with vital wheat gluten, you want to be careful not to add too much to the recipe. My rule of thumb is to add 1 teaspoon for every cup of flour the recipe calls for. Wheat gluten absorbs liquid at a higher rate than traditional flour, so you may need to increase your liquid by a few Tablespoons. Let the dough be your guide.

Whole Grains and Vital Wheat Gluten

Vital wheat gluten is especially helpful when baking with whole wheat and whole grains. Adding a little to bread made with whole wheat flour produces a soft, light and fluffy texture to a bread that can often be a little coarse. Whole wheat flour typically has all of the bran, germ and endosperm in it. The bran has little shards or sharp edges that cut the strands of gluten forming in the dough. Whole grain loaves tend to be more dense and don’t rise quite as tall as loaves made with processed white flour. Adding a little vital wheat gluten and some extra liquid to these whole grain doughs helps soften the texture and give more oven rise in baking.

Substitutions

So what should you do if you come across a recipe that calls for vital wheat gluten and you don’t have any? In a bread recipe, the vital wheat gluten is there to help give structure to the bread. If the recipe calls for all purpose flour and vital wheat gluten, you can substitute bread flour (you may need a little less flour due to the high protein content in bread flour). If a recipe calls for whole wheat flour and vital wheat gluten, you can leave out the vital wheat gluten. Your whole wheat bread will not rise quite as high and tall or taste quite as soft as it will if you add in the wheat gluten, but it shouldn’t stop you from making a delicious loaf.

A Pantry Staple

I have never made seitan, but I use vital wheat gluten almost weekly in my baking. I buy this large bag from Amazon (affiliate link) and it lasts me a long time. You can also find smaller sized bags (affiliate link) at your grocery store, usually in the baking aisle. A small amount of vital wheat gluten added to yeast bread recipes improves the texture and elasticity of the dough. It helps produce tall, round loaves and gives a light and fluffy texture when used in moderation. Vital wheat gluten also helps soften breads made with whole grains and results in a superior bread bake. Add it to your grocery list and start using it in your baking. You won’t regret it!

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Hearty Brown Bread

One of my all-time favorite breads is this honey whole wheat bread made with whole wheat flour from our local mill. It is slightly sweet and has the beautiful flavor or freshly milled whole wheat. Another favorite bread that we can’t get enough of is from the Cheesecake Factory. Their brown bread is another favorite, especially of my kids. This hearty brown bread recipe is a combination of these two breads. It is made with half whole wheat flour making it hearty but is sweetened with honey and molasses. This gives it the sweetness of the Cheesecake Factory bread. In short: this bread is fantastic. My kids gobbled up both loaves as soon as they were out of the oven and they’ve been asking for more ever since.

Jump to Hearty Brown Bread Recipe

Whole Wheat Flour

Hearty brown bread starts off with a combination of all purpose and whole wheat flour. Not all whole wheat is created equal. If you want a real rundown and the nitty gritty behind the different flours available, check out this post. The short version: I like to use a hard white wheat flour. I buy my flour from our local Weisenberger Mill and it is freshly milled and delicious.  You can also grind your own wheat. I used to do that for years but have had trouble finding affordable hard wheat berries in Kentucky, so I transitioned to buying from the mill. If you don’t have access to wheat berries or a mill check your local grocery store. This King Arthur Flour’s white whole wheat flour is a good bet.

Vital Wheat Gluten

One of the properties of whole wheat flour is it doesn’t rise quite as much as traditional white flour. The rise is impeded a bit by the bran flakes in the wheat which “cut up” the dough and stop it from rising as well. Insert: vital wheat gluten. Vital wheat gluten ups the protein content in wheat which increases the strands that trap the gas bubbles, resulting in a better rise. I love using vital wheat gluten in all of my whole wheat breads. I buy it in bulk from Amazon, here. It improves the spring, rise and tenderness of whole wheat bread, and adding about a teaspoon for every cup of whole wheat flour does wonders in my baking. With all that said, if you don’t have vital wheat gluten you can leave it out. You may not have as much rise, but it will still taste delicious. I would also substitute bread flour for the all purpose flour in this recipe if I wasn’t going to use the vital wheat gluten.

A Trick for Viscous Liquids

One of the things I’ve learned over the years of baking with particularly viscous liquids like honey and molasses is to spray the measuring cup with a little bit of cooking oil. You can also pour whatever oil is needed for the recipe into a measuring cup first and add it to the bowl before adding the honey or molasses to the same measuring cup. This helps the honey or molasses slide right out of the measuring cup. You may still need to use a spatula or stick your finger in there to get it all the way out. In this recipe I spray a liquid measuring cup with cooking spray and then fill it up with ½ cup honey and then add the ¼ cup molasses right on top of the honey and pour it in the mixer. It makes a world of difference!

Hearty Brown Bread Dough

The dough for this brown bread comes together in a stand mixer really quickly. You know when to stop adding flour if you pinch off a piece of dough, roll it into a ball in your fingers and there is just a little bit of sticky residue left. As you knead the dough, the flour will become more hydrated as you go. You may need to add a little bit of flour at a time (a Tablespoon or two as you go) to make sure the consistency is tacky and not sticky. 

Free-Form Loaf Shaping

I like to shape this bread into two free-form loaves. I pull the sides up to the center of the dough and form it into a ball giving it tension and shape. After the dough rises for a second time, take a bit of water and brush it over the top of the dough. Keep in mind, because we are using whole wheat flour, you won’t see as big of a rise. Sprinkle on some oats and then pop in the oven for some delicious hearty brown bread. You could also shape this bread into rolls if you wanted a smaller, hand-held, version.

Sweet and Hearty Brown Bread

This hearty brown bread has a beautiful sweet flavor but also the richness of the whole wheat flour and cocoa powder. It is really one of our favorite breads to make and eat. Sweet and hearty, this bread is sure to be one of your family favorites too!

Hearty Brown Bread

Sweet and hearty, this brown bread is tender and delicious. It is made with whole wheat flour, honey and molasses and is the perfect bread to sop up some soup or eat with a schmear of butter. Yum!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Rise Time 3 hrs
Course Bread
Cuisine American
Servings 2 loaves

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups warm water the temperature of baby's bathwater
  • 1 Tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup molasses not blackstrap
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2.5 cups whole wheat flour hard white wheat is my favorite
  • 1.5 Tablespoons vital wheat gluten leave this out if you are using bread flour
  • 2.5 – 3 cups all purpose flour or bread flour
  • 1 Tablespoon quick cooking oats reserved for topping

Instructions
 

  • To a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook add warm water and instant yeast.
  • Spray a liquid measuring cup with cooking spray and add 1/2 cup honey and 1/4 cup molasses to the measuring cup.
  • Pour the honey/molasses into the yeast mixture. Add the cocoa powder and salt.
  • With the dough hook running, add the whole wheat flour and vital wheat gluten. Add the two cups of the all purpose flour and continue adding flour a little bit at a time until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and is tacky (not super sticky). You should be able to pinch off a piece of dough, roll it up into a ball and have very little sticky residue on your fingers. Check out this post for how to tell when to stop adding flour.
  • Knead the dough for 8-10 minutes, adding extra flour as needed, a Tablespoon or two at a time.
  • Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap to rise. Let rise for 1-2 hours until just about doubled in size (it may not rise quite as much due to the whole wheat flour).
  • Punch down the dough and separate into two sections. Shape into a rustic circular loaf by turning the edges of the dough under until it forms a smooth, tight loaf. Repeat with the second section of dough.
  • Place loaves on a lined baking sheet and cover to rise. Let rise about an hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Using a pastry brush, brush the loaves with a little bit of water. Top lightly with the quick-cook oats. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until done. Let cool (if you can) and enjoy!

Notes

This dough can also be shaped into two traditional sandwich loaves and baked in 1 pound bread tins, my favorite linked here (affiliate link). 
 
Keyword brown bread, hearty bread

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Sourdough French Bread

As a girl living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I used to always add loaves of French bread to the grocery list from our local grocery store. It was light, fluffy and was easily one of my favorite breads of all time. That bread, however, doesn’t exist in many parts of the U.S. so I decided to make my own loaf of French bread using 100% sourdough starter and no commercial yeast in sight. While the end product doesn’t taste exactly like the Bay Area store-bought version (which undoubtedly has commercial yeast, dough enhancers, etc…), it is a stand-alone delicious bread in its own right. This sourdough french bread is initially a little crispy on the outside. As it cools it softens and you cut into a tender, light and just slightly tangy inside. With just a few simple ingredients and an active sourdough starter,  you can have this bread on your dinner table too!

Jump to Sourdough French Bread Recipe

Power-Feed the Starter Before Baking

Before beginning to bake a loaf using 100% sourdough starter, make sure that your starter is active. I like to “power-feed” my starter before beginning a loaf that has no commercial yeast in it. Starters can be trained to rise bread predictably and giving them a little power-feed refresh is the best way to do this. In the past when I have not power-fed the starter, I tend to get a sluggish rise from my bread. There’s nothing worse than spending two days to make a loaf of bread and coming out with a sub-par rise. Note that if your starter is already doubling or tripling in size every time you feed it, you may not need to “power-feed” before mixing your leaven.

How to Power-Feed Your Starter

A day before you mix up the bread, feed your starter 2-3 times in a 24 hour period. To do so, discard all but a few Tablespoons of starter. Feed with ½ cup flour and ¼ cup water (may need a tad more water depending on how you scoop your flour). Mix, mark your jar and let rise. About 6-8 hours later repeat the process, noting how much your starter rose. Discard starter for the second time (all but a few tablespoons), feed the remaining starter again and mark the jar. Six to eight hours later, before you go to bed, repeat the process a third time, discarding and feeding. When you wake up the next morning, your starter should be doubling or tripling in size (check it out with the marked jar). This is the kind of activity you want to see from a starter to be able to raise bread.  

Double Check With The Float Test

If you are like me and want to double check that your starter is ready to raise bread, you can always perform the float test. Fill a clear cup with some room temperature water. Take a little spoonful of bubbly starter and plop it in the cup. If it floats, you are ready to proceed with the recipe. If it sinks, give it a bit more time and test again in another hour. If your starter is still not floating, but it has doubled or tripled in size, it may be over-ripe. You can still use this starter, but your bread may end up with more “sour” notes. You can see a video of how to perform the float test here.

Making the Leaven

Once your starter is consistently doubling or tripling in size, you are ready to use it to mix up the leaven for the bread. I think of my sourdough starter as my “mother starter” that I constantly feed. To make any of my sourdough breads, I take some of the “mother starter” and add flour and water to it to create the amount of leaven I need to use in my bread. Technically you could directly use bubbly sourdough starter, but I find that recipes are easier to understand and come out more consistently when I use my starter in this way. To mix up the leaven, take 1 Tablespoon of sourdough starter and add to it flour and water. Cover it and let it sit 8-12 hours until it has risen and can pass the float test. Then it is ready to raise the bread.

Vital Wheat Gluten

I don’t always have bread flour on hand. To help combat this issue, I bought a large bag of vital wheat gluten (affiliate link). Vital wheat gluten is made from wheat flour and is almost pure gluten. I use this all the time in my bread recipes to increase the protein in bread, build structure and improve the elasticity and rise in my dough. A little goes a long way and I typically use about 1 teaspoon vital wheat gluten per cup of all-purpose flour, which makes a great substitute for bread flour. If you don’t have vital wheat gluten, you can substitute bread flour for the all purpose flour in this recipe and omit the vital wheat gluten.

Time and Health Benefits

As with all sourdough and natural yeast recipes, this recipe is going to take some time to rise. The cultures in your fresh yeast break down the bran of the wheat, making the bread more digestible and providing more health benefits than bread made with commercial yeast. The temperature of your kitchen will have an effect on the length of time the bread will take to rise. The recipe calls out a range of time because of those temperature factors. If you are making this sourdough french bread in the winter it may take closer to 6 hours for your loaf’s second rise (depending on the warmth of your kitchen). One of the reasons I love this recipe is that the bulk rise happens overnight, which means the starter is doing all the work while you are asleep.

A Sample Timeline: Sourdough French Bread

Day 1: Power-Feed Your Starter 2-3 times (omit this step if it’s already doubling/tripling in size regularly)

Day 2: 

  • 8-10 AM Mix the leaven. Cover and leave to rise until it has doubled in size and passes the float test.
  • 6-8 PM Mix the dough using a stand mixer. Cover and let rise overnight.

Day 3

  • 6-8 AM Shape dough, cover and let rise in a warm place until puffy and almost doubled.
  • 11-2 PM Score loaves and bake.

Baking Tips

I often place my loaves on a parchment-lined baking sheet to rise and they turn out great. If you want your loaf to turn out similar to a traditional baguette and you are planning to bake a lot of baguette style loaves, investing in one of these (affiliate link) special baguette pans is worth it in my opinion. They help give a crispy crust with the air flow around the entire baguette and produce a superior product. This is not to say you can’t get a beautiful loaf on a traditional baking sheet and if you aren’t planning to bake much baguette, I wouldn’t worry about a baguette pan. To help either type of loaf get a crispy crust, I like to throw a few ice cubes into the bottom of my preheated oven right before before baking the baguettes. The ice cubes produce steam throughout the baking process which gives a beautiful crispy crust to these sourdough baguettes. 

If you love sourdough or want an easy-to-follow recipe to use your starter with, this recipe is really a great one. The dough is mixed in a stand mixer, it rises overnight and produces a few delicious loaves of french bread. The only “tricky” part for sourdough newbies is just making sure your starter is active and able to raise a loaf of bread. I’m hoping these tips will help you feel confident to try it out! Before you know it you can be pulling out some beautiful loaves of sourdough bread to sop up some soup, enjoy with butter or just to tear apart on a a family picnic. Enjoy!

Soft Sourdough French Bread

Crispy but soft, tangy and light this sourdough french bread is made with 100% sourdough starter and is absolutely delicious.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Rise Time 16 hrs
Course Bread
Cuisine American
Servings 2 loaves

Ingredients
  

Leaven: 8-12 hours before mixing dough

  • 1 Tablespoon sourdough starter
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup room temperature water

Dough

  • All of the leaven or 1 1/4 cups bubbly sourdough starter
  • 2 cups room temperature water
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 6-7 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons vital wheat gluten *see recipe notes

Instructions
 

Leaven

  • Eight to twelve hours before mixing the dough, add 1 Tablespoon of ripe sourdough starter to a small bowl.
  • Add 1 cup of flour and 3/4 cup water to the starter. Mix together and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for 8-12 hours until it has doubled in size and passes the float test.

Mixing the Dough

  • To the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook add the bubbly leaven, water, sugar, salt, and vegetable oil.
  • Add 5.5 cups flour and the vital wheat gluten and mix. Continue adding flour until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl, the dough is tacky (but not overly sticky) and you can pinch of a piece of dough, roll it in your fingers and just have a little bit of residual dough on your fingers. Check out these tips to know if your dough is ready.
  • Knead the dough for about 8-10 minutes (set a timer and let the mixer go) and add a Tablespoon of flour at a time as needed.
  • Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 8-12 hours (overnight).
  • The next morning the dough will have risen. The amount of rise depends a lot on the temperature of your kitchen. Don't worry, if your starter is very active, it will be okay.
  • Transfer the dough to a countertop. Cut the dough in two sections for two large loaves or in three for three smaller loaves.
  • Pat the dough into a rectangle and roll up cinnamon-roll style, pinching the seams closed as you roll.
  • Repeat with the remaining sourdough loaves.
  • Place the loaves on a parchment-lined baking sheet or use a baguette bread pan. Cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap. Let the loaves rise for 3-6 hours until puffy and almost doubled in size (the time will depend on the warmth of your kitchen).

Baking the Bread

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Throw a handful of ice cubes into the bottom of the oven while it preheats.
  • Slash or score the loaves with a bread lame or sharp knife.
  • Bake the bread for 35 minutes until a nice golden color. Brush with melted butter and let cool completely before slicing. Enjoy!

Notes

Vital Wheat Gluten: If you don’t have vital wheat gluten (I buy mine here), you can omit it and use bread flour in place of all purpose flour. 
Keyword soft french bread, sourdough bread

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Parmesan Herb Christmas Tree Rolls

With Christmas around the corner, I am always looking for easy ways to bring a little festive cheer to our dinner table. These Christmas tree rolls are just delicious rolls nestled close together in the shape of a Christmas Tree on parchment paper. The parmesan herb topping gives a little green speckled color to them and a whole lot of delicious flavor. You could use any roll recipe to make this festive Christmas tree shape, like these white dinner rolls or these quick yeast rolls, but I am partial to the parmesan herb topping that take these Christmas tree rolls over the top. 

Jump to Parmesan Herb Christmas Tree Rolls Recipe

Mixing and Kneading the Dough

The dough is mixed up using a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. You can also knead this dough by hand if you don’t have a mixer, though it will take some arm muscle to knead for about 8-10 minutes. The dough should come together nicely and be slightly tacky to the touch. Add more flour, a little at a time (a Tablespoon or so), as needed throughout the kneading process. You should be able to pinch off a piece of dough, roll it up in your fingers and have just a little sticky residue left over. If you have lots of stickiness on your hands, you need to keep adding flour just a Tablespoon or two at a time. Over-flouring the dough is one of the ways you get tough rolls…and nobody wants that! You can check this post for tips on how to know when your dough is ready. I like to set a timer and let my mixer go to work for about 8-10 minutes, adding little bits of flour as needed, to make sure the dough is properly kneaded, which develops the gluten and makes for some pretty amazing bread.

Parmesan Herb Topping

After the dough has risen, mix up the parmesan herb topping. The parmesan inside the dough and the parmesan mixed with butter, oil and herbs give these rolls delicious flavor. You can substitute almost any hard cheese for these rolls and they will turn out delicious. Separate the dough into 22 pieces. These are good-sized rolls. Pull up the edges of the dough into the center forming a ball and roll on the counter top to form a ball shape.

You can watch how I shape rolls in the video below:

Now for the messy part: dip each shaped roll into the parmesan herb topping and turn it around covering it completely with the mixture. Place the roll at the top center of a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat the process with the rest of the rolls and continue the Christmas tree shape down the parchment paper.

Christmas Tree Shape

For the Christmas tree shape, I had six rows of rolls, adding a roll every time as I went down the parchment paper and ending with six rolls on my bottom row. If you want a smaller Christmas tree, you can do four or five rows instead and bake up the extra rolls on a separate baking sheet. Take the last piece of roll dough (your 22nd roll) and pat it into a square shape for the tree stem. Place it in the middle underneath the row of 6 rolls. 

Parchment Paper 

These rolls will rise a lot in the oven. They make good-sized, light and fluffy dinner rolls. The parchment paper is important because it makes it much easier for you transfer the rolls all together off the baking sheet. Once the rolls are baked, pull them out of the oven and brush melted butter over the top if desired. After cooling for a few minutes, slide the whole piece of parchment paper with the rolls on top off the baking sheet and display however you would like for your Christmas meal.

Pull Apart Rolls

Expect oohs and aahs as you reach in and pull apart these rolls. The soft dough makes for a springy, delicious roll, and the parmesan herb topping adds a delicious savory element. These rolls would pair perfectly with a charcuterie board or for a special Christmas dinner. They are festive and are so fun to pull apart from each other, slather with some butter and enjoy.

No matter what roll recipe you use this Christmas, this Christmas tree shape is so much fun to make and is an easy way to bring a little flair to a special meal. And if you don’t want to make a Christmas tree shape, no worries! These rolls bake up perfectly on a baking sheet or cut into 24 pieces and baked 12 to a baking dish. I hope you love these as much as we do!

Parmesan Herb Christmas Tree Rolls

Light fluffy and tender dinner rolls filled with parmesan herb flavor and shaped as a Christmas tree for some festive fun.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Rise Time 2 hrs
Course Bread
Cuisine American
Servings 22 rolls

Ingredients
  

Roll Dough

  • 2 cups warm water baby's bathwater temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon instant yeast
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil any neutral-flavored oil will work
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 1/2 – 6 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese

Parmesan Herb Topping

  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter melted
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese freshly grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions
 

  • To the bow of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add two cups of warm water and the instant yeast.
  • Add the vegetable oil and honey (in that order so the honey will slide right out of the measuring spoon).
  • Add the salt and three cups of flour. Mix together. Add the parmesan cheese and continue adding the flour up to five cups total. Continue kneading and add the last cup of flour as needed. The dough should be tacky and not overly sticky on your fingers. Pinch off a piece of dough and roll it up into a ball. There should be just a little bit of sticky residue on your fingers. You can check this post for how to tell if the dough is ready.
  • Knead for 8-10 minutes (set a timer and let your mixer go) adding flour a Tablespoon at a time as needed.
  • Transfer dough to a lightly oiled container. Cover and let rise about an hour.
  • While the dough rises, mix up the parmesan herb topping in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Cover a large baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.
  • Once the dough has risen, punch it down. Turn the dough out on the counter and separate it into twenty-two equal-sized pieces of dough.
  • Roll each piece of dough into a ball by pulling the dough into the center, forming a tight ball.
  • Roll each ball, covering it completely, in the parmesan herb mixture.
  • Place the first ball at the top of the parchment paper. Continue forming balls, rolling them in the mixture and placing on the parchment paper in a triangle/tree shape starting with 1 ball on top to 6 balls on the bottom. Form the last ball into a rectangular shape for the base of the tree.
  • Let the dough rise about 30-45 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes. Brush with melted butter if desired. Enjoy!

Notes

Recipe Notes: These rolls are delicious on their own but even more fun placed in the shape of a Christmas tree for the holidays.
Keyword Parmesan Herb, rolls, yeast rolls,

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One Hour (or Less) Yeast Rolls

The other day my family really wanted burgers for dinner. I did not want to run to the store and didn’t have three hours to make burger buns, so I tried out a super-fast bun recipe. And it worked! They were yeast buns and super delicious (recipe coming soon). This success gave me the idea to try and adapt a favorite roll recipe to be made start to finish in under an hour. Did I think it was possible? Yes. Did I think they would taste good? Undecided. But guess what? They actually taste amazing. Light, fluffy, tender and absolutely delicious. There is no reason you cannot have yeast rolls with a home-cooked meal or especially a holiday like Thanksgiving. These one hour (or less) yeast rolls are knock your socks off good and they are start to finish…all in less than an hour.

Jump to the Recipe for One Hour (or less) Yeast Rolls

The Process

To make these rolls, mix up your dough as you normally would for a yeast dough. Knead the dough, by hand or by mixer for about 5-7 minutes. After the dough is kneaded, you do not need to let the dough rise. Instead, immediately shape the dough into rolls and set them in a baking dish. Give them a quick 10-15 minute proof in a warm place and then bake them for about 25 minutes. You have eliminated the first rise and most of the second rise and are relying on the fast-acting power of the yeast and the heat from the oven for some perfect rolls.

Why One Hour Yeast Rolls Work: Instant Yeast

I love this instant yeast and cornstarch adds a little bit of extra tenderness to the rolls too.

The key ingredient in this recipe is the instant yeast. I love using SAF instant yeast (affiliate link) and stock up on it from my local mill. Instant yeast is more fine than dry active yeast which means that it does not need to be proofed before being mixed into the dough. You may also find instant yeast labeled as “rapid-rise” yeast and “bread machine” yeast. All of those will work for this recipe. Dry active yeast takes longer to activate and requires a second rise, so it will not work well for these one hour or less yeast rolls. The amount of instant yeast in this recipe is a lot. This, combined with the heat from the oven, is what gives the rolls their beautiful rise. Despite the 2 Tablespoons used, the rolls do not have an overpowering yeast flavor.

Why Does Dough Typically Need Two Rises?

Almost all yeast rolls call for two rises. Typically the first rise takes place after the dough is kneaded and the second rise happens after the dough has been shaped. During the first rise, the yeast feeds off the flour and produces carbon dioxide gas, which causes the dough to rise and creates the air bubbles in bread. Punching down the dough and shaping bread allows the yeast to continue feeding off the flour and produces more carbon dioxide, which causes the second rise. The longer the rise, the more chewy, flavorful and complex the bread is, which is why most recipes call for two rises. You will get optimal results with a double rise.

Time as a Factor

With all that said, I think that the time saved in making these rolls is absolutely worth it. Let’s face it, we don’t all always have the three hours to give to make homemade rolls and if we can cut a few corners and still have fluffy dinner rolls, then I think it is worth it. This roll recipe is delicious. If I made it side by side with a roll recipe that had a double rise I may be able to notice a slight difference, but I think the time saved is worth it in this recipe. If I have three hours on my hands I may choose a different roll recipe, but if I only have an hour and need rolls on the table? This is my go-to every time. 

So what are you waiting for? Add this recipe to your list for the upcoming holidays. Or check out some of my other favorite roll recipes if you have a little more time on your hands. Enjoy!

One Hour (or less) Yeast Rolls

Light, fluffy, tender and absolutely delicious. These one hour (or less) yeast rolls are knock your socks off good and they are start to finish…all in less than an hour.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Course Bread
Cuisine American
Servings 12 rolls

Ingredients
  

  • 1 1/3 cup milk warmed
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter melted
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Instructions
 

  • To the bowl of a stand mixer, add the warm milk (make sure this is the temperature of a baby's bathwater…so as not to kill the yeast), melted butter, sugar, yeast and salt.
  • Add the cornstarch and 3 cups of flour to the center of the bowl and knead using the dough hook. Alternatively you can mix the ingredients together in a bowl and knead the dough on your countertop by hand for about 10 minutes. If using a dough hook, knead the dough for about 5-7 minutes, adding the extra half cup of flour as needed. You should be able to pinch off a chunk of dough, roll it into a ball in your fingers with just a little sticky residue left behind. You can check out this blog post for how to check for readiness of dough if you need some guidance.
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  • Lightly grease a 9 by 13 pan with cooking spray.
  • Move the dough to your countertop and cut into twelve equal pieces.
  • Shape the dough into rolls one at a time. Pull up the sides of the dough into the middle while rotating the dough in your hand to form a ball. Then roll the ball on the countertop before placing on a baking sheet or dish. Watch the process here.
  • Cover the rolls and let them rise in a warm spot for 10 minutes.
  • After ten minutes, the rolls will have puffed up just a bit. If they don't look puffy, that's okay. Continue on with the recipe and bake the rolls at 350 degrees for about 22-25 minutes depending on how brown you like your rolls. For lighter rolls, bake in a glass pan. For a darker crust use a dark pan.
  • Once rolls have finished baking, top with melted butter and enjoy warm!

Notes

I always use SAF instant yeast in this recipe and in almost all my yeast breads. 
Keyword quick rolls, rolls, yeast rolls,
Watch this video for a roll shaping tutorial

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Applesauce Bread

Our favorite local orchard is open until the end of the month. While the apple picking days are over and these fried apple pies with freshly picked apples will have to wait until next year, we are still able to buy their delicious cider by the gallon. We’ve been enjoying some late fall outdoor playtime with beautiful weather and, of course, apple cider. This applesauce bread is perfect to whip up for a fall day. It has the iconic fall spices of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice that you find in apple and pumpkin pies and is full of fall flavor. It includes one full cup of applesauce, delicious apple cider and is the perfect snack for this time of year.

This recipe makes one loaf, but I always double it because it freezes so well and I have a lot of kids to feed.
Jump to Applesauce Bread Recipe Below

My One-Bowl Method

One of the things I love about quick breads, is how easy they are to mix. I have a few favorites on my site: zucchini bread, banana bread and these pumpkin muffins. One thing they have in common is that I love only using one bowl. Most recipes will have you mix together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. My kitchen is usually so full of dishes on any given day that I always favor one-bowl recipes. I don’t want to wash another bowl if I don’t have to. The key to these recipes is adding the liquid ingredients plus sugar to the bowl first and mixing them together well. Then adding the salt and spices to the liquid ingredients and mix. Last adding the flour on top without mixing and then the leavening (baking soda/powder). I lightly fluff them together with a fork, my fingers or using my mixing spoon before completely incorporating them in with the liquid ingredients. This way those dry ingredients get a light mix (and don’t go flying out of my bowl when I start mixing) and I don’t have to wash two bowls. Win-win.

Apple Flavor and Whole Wheat Flour

This applesauce bread packs a punch of apple flavor with the applesauce and apple cider. It is possible to substitute the apple cider for apple juice, though the apple flavor won’t be as strong. If you want even more apple flavor and texture in your bread, dice up about ¾ cup of some of your favorite apples and add them to the mixture after the dry ingredients. I always use half whole wheat flour and half all purpose flour in this recipe and it turns out great. My kids don’t even know they are are eating whole grains. I think this recipe would also be a great one to substitute gluten free flour (my favorite here) if you need to make a gluten-free version.

The Perfect Bake 

One of the keys to getting a beautiful loaf of quickbread is to bake the bread at a high temperature for about 10 minutes. Then reduce the temperature and continue the bake for a longer time. This high heat helps activate the rising agent (baking powder/soda in this case) and forms a beautiful dome shape and crust on the bread. I bake this bread for 10 minutes at 450 degrees. Then reduce the oven temperature to 325 and continue baking for another 40-50 minutes.

Parchment Paper Yes or No?

I found that this bread did not need a parchment sling if you have a really great non-stick pan (shameless plug for my favorite bread pan ever, affiliate link). If you are adding diced apples to the batter,  you will definitely want to use a parchment sling. A tutorial is found here. If your pan tends to stick, I’d liberally grease it or use parchment paper. There’s nothing worse than making a beautiful loaf only to have it fall apart when you go to turn it out (I’ve done that one too many times).

This applesauce bread is just delicious. It makes for a great after-school snack, morning breakfast or would be amazing as a dessert with a little drizzle of glaze on the top. I would mix a Tablespoon of apple cider with half a cup of powdered sugar (add a little more or less depending on the consistency you want for a glaze) and drizzle it over the top for a special fall dessert. However you choose to eat it, I hope you love this recipe as much as my family does. Enjoy!

Applesauce Bread

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Bread, Breakfast, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 1 loaf

Ingredients
  

  • 8 Tablespoons butter, unsalted melted
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce if you use a sweetened version you may want to reduce the sugar in the recipe a bit
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves or allspice if preferred
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour half whole wheat/half all purpose work well here too
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • To a large bowl, mix together the melted butter, applesauce and apple cider with a wooden spoon. Incorporate each egg by mixing quickly. Add the sugar and vanilla. Mix to combine.
  • To the center of the same bowl, add the salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Mix to combine.
  • Add the flour to the middle of the bowl. Don’t mix! Add the baking powder and baking soda right on top of the flour and lightly combine with a fork or using the same wooden spoon. Then, using the wooden spoon and a light hand, mix together until just incorporated. This helps make sure you don’t over-mix the batter resulting in a tough bread.
  • Lightly grease a bread loaf pan (my favorite here) or use a parchment paper sling.
  • Pour the mixture into the bread pan and bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees. After 10 minutes, reduce the temperature to 325 degrees and continue baking for another 40-50 minutes.
  • Stick a toothpick in the middle to check for doneness and then let cool to room temperature before slicing. Enjoy!

Notes

If you want even more apple flavor, add about a cup of diced apple to the mixture for a delicious flavor and texture.
I use a combination of all purpose and 100% whole wheat flour and the bread turns out great! (¾  cups all purpose, ¾ cups whole wheat flour)
This bread freezes very well. I like to slice my loaves and freeze for quick and easy breakfasts.
 
Keyword apple bread, applesauce bread, quickbread

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Mummy Dogs

Growing up, one of my favorite Halloween festivities was the fun spread of food my mom would throw together on Halloween night. Whatever it was we were eating was always turned into some “spooky” name: “witches brew” (soup), “blood and guts” (spaghetti and meatballs), “skeleton fingers” (carrots); and we always, always had a delicious “cat bread” that my mom would make. This was a basic bread recipe that my mom turned into the shape and face of a cat. She would bake it up and then add whiskers out of dry pasta noodles and a cute face. One day, I will recreate that cat bread. Today I’m sharing my own family’s tradition, one my kids love and look forward to every year: Mummy Dogs. They are delicious, easy and a crowd pleaser.

Jump Directly to Mummy Dogs Recipe

Our Halloween Dinner Now

We don’t always have our Halloween dinner on Halloween night. In recent years we almost never eat it on Halloween night because we enjoy having a friend party before trick-or-treating on Halloween. Instead, we pick one night leading up to Halloween and enjoy a spooky dinner. This almost always includes Mummy Dogs (along with other frightfully fun foods). Mummy Dogs are basically hot dogs wrapped up in a delicious breadstick dough with ketchup or mustard for eyes. They are fun for kids to make and super, super simple. I mean, you could technically buy some dough at the store, but you won’t need to with how quick and easy this breadstick dough is…perfect for wrapping up those hot dogs and turning them into “Mummy Dogs!”

Instant Yeast

These mummy dogs will take you less than an hour to make. Yes! Less than an hour! With just a few simple ingredients, you can have a super simple and super festive fun dinner on your table for your family to enjoy. The key to this quick rise time is in the instant yeast (my favorite linked here, affiliate link). One of the beautiful things about instant yeast is that it technically doesn’t need two rises. You can throw the yeast in, shape the dough and let it rise once before baking. This is a huge time saver! These breadsticks benefit from the use of instant yeast because you mix up the dough, give it a short ten minute rest and then wrap up your hot dogs, mummy-dog style. After a quick 20-minute rise, they are ready to bake. Easy peasy!

A Little Extra Butter

Liberally butter your pan for a delicious buttery crust

Preparing the pan with a little extra butter gives these mummy dogs a crispy and delicious breadstick texture. You will be asking yourself when you can make them again…the bread is so good. Light and fluffy with a buttery crust. Soften or melt about 4 Tablespoons of butter and coat the two pans with the melted butter before wrapping each mummy dog and placing on the pan to rise.

Mummy Dogs for a Crowd

I love this recipe because it is great for a crowd if you’re having people over for Halloween dinner. Sometimes I make half the hot dogs (8) and turn the rest of the dough into “breadsticks,” just twisting them up and laying them on the baking sheet instead of making 16 total hot dogs – the dough is so good for making breadsticks.

If you’re looking for a last-minute, delicious dinner with basic ingredients that you most likely have in your pantry, look no further than these mummy-dogs. They are delicious and perfect for a special dinner or to snarf down before trick-or treating.

Mummy Dogs

A light and fluffy breadstick dough wrapped around hot dogs make the perfect Halloween dinner!
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Rising Time 30 mins
Course Bread, Main Course
Cuisine American, Halloween
Servings 16 mummy dogs

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups warm water (as warm as baby's bath water)
  • 1 Tablespoon instant yeast
  • 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil or any neutral-flavored oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 5-6 cups all purpose flour
  • 16 packaged hot dogs
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened or melted for the baking sheet

Instructions
 

  • To a stand mixer with a dough hook, add the warm water (as warm as a baby’s bathwater so as not to kill the yeast).
  • Add the instant yeast, granulated sugar, oil, salt, garlic powder, basil and oregano.
  • Using the dough hook, add the flour a cup at a time until the dough comes together in a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Take a pinch of dough and roll it into a ball. It should leave a little residue on your fingers but roll it into a ball. If it doesn’t roll into a ball, continue adding flour a Tablespoon or so at a time until it does. If you over flour the dough, you can add a little bit of water back in and mix it, though this should be a last resort. Check out this post for readiness of the dough if you have more questions.
  • Let the dough rest in the bowl for 10 minutes.
  • After resting for 10 minutes, separate the dough into 16 equal pieces and open a package of hot dogs (you need 16 total).
  • Butter two large baking sheets (my favorite here, affiliate link) with 2 Tablespoons of softened butter per sheet. I just plop it down on the sheet and use my hands to coat the pan in butter.
  • Roll each piece of dough into a long rope. Take a hot dog and starting at the end of the hot dog, wrap the dough around the hot dog, leaving a small gap for the eyes. Pinch the dough together at the end of the hot dog and place on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining 15 hot dogs.
  • Cover the mummy dogs and let rest in a warm place for about 20 minutes for a quick rise. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • After twenty minutes, bake the mummy dogs in the oven for about 15 minutes until lightly golden on top.
  • Add two dots of ketchup or mustard for the eyes and enjoy immediately.

Notes

I often halve the number of hot dogs used in this recipe and make 8 mummy dogs and 8 breadsticks. Twist the breadstick dough, place on a baking sheet and bake for the same amount of time. Sprinkle with cheese or extra melted butter when they come out of the oven.
Keyword Breadsticks, Halloween, Hot Dogs

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Masa Butterhorn Rolls

I love making dinner rolls. As a kid I was always partial to butterhorn rolls, usually a dough enriched with milk, butter and eggs and then more butter added on top of the dough before rolling up in a crescent shape. What’s not to love about a really buttery, delicious dinner roll? It even made me look forward to eating my vegetables, so I could have another roll. These masa butterhorn rolls are made in the same way as my childhood originals, but with the addition of a masa pudding that gives the rolls a little more depth and makes for a little bit sturdier roll…perfect for dunking in soup, eating with some leftover Thanksgiving turkey or sopping up the gravy from your leftovers. Now I just have to decide which roll recipe I’ll be making for Thanksgiving…these are definitely in the running! Masa butterhorn rolls are sure to be a hit at your next family gathering. 

Jump Directly to Recipe for Masa Butterhorn Rolls

Masa: What it is?

Masa flour is a finely ground corn flour that you can usually find in your local grocery store. It is a very soft flour that is traditionally made from dried corn that has been pre-soaked. Masa flour is traditionally used to make corn tortillas, tamales, sometimes to thicken soups and even make special drinks in Mexico and Central American countries. If you have some masa flour (I’m liking it here, but I recommend buying it from your local grocery store for much cheaper) lurking in your pantry, now is the time to pull it out and use it in this roll recipe. 

Make a Masa Pudding

The way the masa flour is incorporated in the rolls is a little unique. You begin by warming up milk and adding the masa flour to the milk. Continue heating the milk and masa mixture together until it thickens and forms a pudding-like texture. I liked doing this process in the microwave, though you could also warm it on the stovetop. If you are using a microwave, heat the mixture about a minute at a time until you notice thickening happening around the edges of the bowl. Then mix the rest of the ingredients in with the pudding except for the yeast and flour. Make sure the mixture is warm to the touch (not hot) before adding the yeast, so it doesn’t kill the yeast. Then add the flour and knead to form the light and airy dough.

Shaping Masa Butterhorn Rolls

One of the unique things about these rolls is the addition of butter before rolling up crescent roll style. Please don’t skip this step. It adds a delicious buttery flavor to the rolls. Shaping the rolls couldn’t be easier by rolling half the dough out into a circle and then using a pizza cutter to cut the dough into eight slices. Roll the dough up from the edge of the dough to the center to form a beautifully shaped crescent roll. If you want to make them as a standard roll, that is also possible with this recipe. Forgo the extra butter, cut the dough into 16 pieces and shape into small rolls. Bake for about 14 minutes.

Perfect for a Family Dinner

Masa butterhorn rolls are the perfect roll for a special occasion. They are substantial enough for the leftover turkey sandwiches from your Thanksgiving meal but are just as good with a little schmear of jam. We like to eat a more traditional Sunday dinner and these would be great to add to our lineup of bread recipes that grace our table. This recipe makes 16 rolls. It doubles well for a larger group and these rolls freeze well after baking. I like to let them cool, then transfer to a ziplock bag and freeze. When I want to serve them again, I’ll defrost a bit and warm them in the microwave. However you choose to eat them, I hope you love them as much as we do! Enjoy.

Masa Butterhorn Rolls

Tender, buttery and delicious, these Masa Butterhorn Rolls use masa flour in the dough and are rolled with extra butter to form the perfect roll for dinner.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 11 mins
rise time 2 hrs
Course Bread
Cuisine American
Servings 16 rolls

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup masa flour
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter plus 4 Tablespoons softened and reserved for shaping
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 Tablespoon instant yeast
  • 2 3/4- 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour

Instructions
 

Roll Dough

  • Warm the milk in the microwave or on the stove (medium heat) until bubbles form around the edges but the milk is not boiling. If using the microwave method, use a large liquid measuring cup (my favorite is this one, affiliate link), and microwave for 1 minute, check for bubbles around the edges. Continue warming in 30 second to 1 minute increments to check for readiness.
  • Once the bubbles have formed, add the masa flour to the milk and whisk together. Continue warming the masa and milk together in the microwave (one minute at a time), whisking in between minutes. If using the stove, stir continuously until the mixture thickens and forms a pudding-like texture.
  • You are looking for the mixture to thicken around the edges in the microwave. Once this happens (usually after a minute or two), whisk the masa/milk together until it forms a thick “pudding-like mixture.” If mixing on the stove, continue heating over medium heat and whisking until it forms a pudding-like mixture.
  • Cut the 3 Tablespoons of butter into small pieces and add to the warm masa pudding mixture, whisking it in until fully dissolved. Reserve 4 Tablespoons of butter and let it come to room temperature on your countertop to be used when shaping the dough.
  • Add the sugar and salt. Whisk together.
  • Add the egg. Whisk quickly to make sure the egg tempers and fully incorporates.
  • Pour the masa mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer.
  • At this point, check the temperature of the masa mixture (I use my finger…if it feels cooler than a baby’s bath water, you are good to go. If not, whisk a bit more and allow to cool down a bit). Once the mixture is lukewarm, add the yeast.
  • Start the dough hook and add a cup of flour at a time, reserving the last half cup of flour to add in increments as needed. You will know to stop adding flour when the dough pulls away from the sides of the mixer and you can take a pinch of dough and roll it into a ball in your fingers with just a little bit of dough sticking to your fingers. It’s okay for the dough to be a little bit sticky. See how to check for readiness of the dough here.
  • Knead dough for about 5 minutes. Then cover and let rise for about an hour or until doubled in size.

Shaping the Dough

  • Once the dough has doubled in size, lightly flour a countertop.
  • Pour the dough out on the countertop and cut it into two pieces.
  • Roll the first piece of dough into a large circle. Cover completely with 2 Tablespoons of softened butter.
  • Using a pizza cutter (or sharp knife), cut the dough into 8 pieces, pizza-slice-style.
  • Starting with the largest part of the dough, roll it up until it forms a crescent-style roll. Continue rolling the rest of the rolls. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  • Repeat this process with the other piece of dough.
  • Cover the rolls and allow to rise for about an hour until doubled.

Baking

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Bake rolls for 11-14 minutes (we like ours around the 11 minute mark, but you may want yours a little darker on top). Eat immediately while warm. Enjoy!

Notes

Shaping: You can also shape the dough into traditional rolls. Cut the dough into 12-16 equal pieces. Shape into a ball, let rise and bake 12-14 minutes at 375 degrees
Keyword rolls

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Pretzel Bites with Sourdough Discard

You guys know how much I love sourdough, right? It is one of my favorite things to bake with. I love the smell of fresh yeast, the light tang of the dough and the quality of the bread. I also love developing and baking recipes with my sourdough discard. It’s the perfect way to boost the flavor in a roll, biscuit or even pancakes and waffles. These sourdough discard pretzel bites are the best of the best when it comes to sourdough baking. They are light, fluffy and use up some of that discard lurking in the back of your fridge. Come on…I know it’s back there…just waiting for the perfect recipe to be used in. This is it!

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Why Use Sourdough Discard in Pretzel Bites? 

I am not a fan of food waste. I try to find uses for almost everything in my kitchen, and I enjoy meal planning to use up all the random veggies I have at the end of the week. This same thought process goes for sourdough discard. I love that this recipe helps me do my part in decreasing food waste by utilizing the sourdough discard. Truthfully, I keep discard in my fridge just so I can make this recipe—it is that good! If you don’t have discard in your fridge, go ahead and sub fresh sourdough starter. It will work too. 

Instant Yeast Helps the Pretzel Dough Rise

Discard in this recipe refers to refrigerated sourdough culture that is past its prime and over-ripe. it won’t have the same properties as a fresh, young, bubbly leaven (or sourdough starter). The cultures are often sluggish and do not produce the same rise as a bubbly starter would. Because of this, the pretzel dough benefits from the addition of instant yeast (affiliate link: I buy my yeast at my local mill, so look around to price check ). I love instant yeast for its fool-proof nature, but if you only have active dry, that’s okay too. Just proof it with a little warm water and sugar, wait 5 minutes and you should be good to go. The instant yeast gives the dough a quick rise while the sourdough discard gives a slight depth of flavor to the pretzel bites.

Baking Soda Wash

One of the unique things about these sourdough pretzel bites is the baking soda wash that is applied to the pretzels before baking in the oven. This gives the pretzels a golden brown, crunchy exterior with a soft, chewy middle that is just delicious. The baking soda wash is so simple and perfect for those little fingers that want to help you in the kitchen. Heat up ½ cup of water in the microwave until very hot (almost boiling but not quite). Add in a Tablespoon of baking soda (watch for the mixture to fizz up). Stir vigorously until the baking soda is completely combined with the water. Then brush the mixture using a pastry brush (affiliate link) onto each pretzel bite. Let the pretzel bites rise for 10-15 minutes while the oven preheats and then bake to perfection.

Brush on that Butter and Top or Dip to Perfection

Don’t skip over this step when making these sourdough discard pretzel bites. Keep on brushing the melted butter on top of the hot pretzel bites until it is all used up. The butter helps the toppings adhere and gives a delicious flavor to the pretzel bites. It’s worth it. Promise. Once the pretzels are fully covered in butter and toppings, enjoy them hot. They definitely do taste best eaten right away. We also like dipping them in cheese sauce or this yummy honey mustard sauce

  • Dipping sauce: 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise, 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard and 2 Tablespoons honey

Perfect Recipe to Bake with Kids

If you’re looking for a particularly kid-friendly recipe, this one is it. You can mix up the dough with your child or ahead of time and then after the dough’s first rise, let them help you roll the pretzels into logs, cut them up into bites and brush with the baking soda mixture. Kids can be so hands-on in this recipe and they love brushing the tops of the pretzels with melted butter and toppings at the end…not to mention eating them! Definitely check this recipe out if you are looking for a fun afternoon baking with your kids.

Double the Recipe to Make a Batch of Pretzels Too

While I am partial to the pretzel bites, this dough does make delicious pretzels too. My kids seem to love shaping the pretzels and playing with the dough, so I often double this recipe and shape half into pretzel bites and let them shape the other half into pretzels. Cut the dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece and shape into a U. Fold over, twist around and then bring the ends down and pinch into the bottom part of the dough (see pictures for visual). Brush with the baking soda wash, bake for 9 minutes at 500 degrees, brush with melted butter and toppings and you have some delicious sourdough discard pretzels. These pretzel are yummy and fun for kids to make, though I really am partial to the pretzel bites; the perfect chewy, “pillowy” goodness in one bite.

Sourdough Pretzel Bites Make the Perfect Snack

Sourdough discard pretzel bites are the perfect snack. They are small, perfect to feed a crowd and absolutely delicious. I love how easy these are to customize so everyone can enjoy their perfect pretzel bite. Go find that sourdough discard in the back of your fridge and enjoy an ethereal soft, crispy sourdough discard pretzel bite. Yum!

Pretzel Bites with Sourdough Discard

Crispy, chewy and delicious pretzel bites made with sourdough discard. Perfect for a crowd or a snack. Top with your favorite toppings and enjoy!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 8 mins
Course Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 32 pretzel bites

Ingredients
  

Pretzel Dough

  • 1/2 cup sourdough discard or bubbly sourdough starter, 145 grams
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm water 175 grams
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar 5 grams
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast 7 grams
  • 1 teaspoon salt 5 grams
  • 2 cups all purpose flour* 285 grams, plus more for rolling

Baking Soda Wash

  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1 Tablespoon baking soda

Toppings

  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter melted
  • 2 teaspoons salt for topping
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese if desired
  • 1/4 cup cinnamon sugar if desired

Instructions
 

  • To a large bowl or to bowl in a stand mixer, mix together the sourdough discard, water, sugar, instant yeast, salt and flour.
  • Knead by hand about 5-8 minutes or knead in a stand mixer for about 5 minutes until it comes together and forms a smooth ball. Add a little more flour as needed. The dough will still be sticky, but not overly sticky. Pinch off a piece of dough and roll it into a ball in your fingers. If it forms a ball with minimal sticky residue left on your fingers, you can stop adding flour. Check out a few other tips for kneading dough here.
  • Lightly oil a bowl or container (affiliate link) and turn the dough around in the bowl to cover it lightly with the oil. Drape a kitchen towel or some plastic wrap over the bowl and let dough rise for 1-1 ½ hours.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Once dough has doubled in size, flour a counter with 1-2 Tablespoons flour and punch down the dough. Turn it out onto the floured surface and separate into 4 sections.
  • Roll each section into a long strand and cut each strand into 6-8 pretzel pieces. Place each pretzel bite on the parchment paper.
  • Heat ½ cup of water in the microwave until almost boiling. Add 1 Tablespoon of baking soda (it will bubble up a little) and mix together. Make sure the baking soda is completely dissolved before proceeding.
  • Using a pastry brush, brush each pretzel bite with the baking soda/water mixture.
  • Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Let the pretzel bites rise for about 10-15 minutes (usually the amount of time it takes for the oven to preheat) before baking.
  • Bake the pretzel bites for about 8 minutes until crisp and lightly brown on the outside.
  • While the pretzel bites are baking, melt the unsalted butter and prepare any toppings (salt, parmesan cheese, cinnamon sugar).
  • As soon as the pretzel bites are baked through, remove them from the oven and brush with melted butter. Continue adding butter until all of the butter is on the pretzel bites. It may seem like a lot of butter, but keep adding it for the best taste and flavor.
  • Top with salt, cinnamon sugar or parmesan cheese and enjoy immediately.

Notes

*Flour: You may need more or less flour than called for in this recipe depending on the percentage of flour and water your sourdough discard has. Check for readiness of the dough by rolling the dough into a ball in your fingertips. If it forms a ball with just a little sticky residue on your fingers, you can stop adding flour. If it is very sticky, add a little more flour about a Tablespoon at a time.
Substitutions: Bubbly sourdough starter can be substituted for sourdough discard. Alternatively, if you don’t have sourdough discard on hand, the discard can be omitted and you can increase the flour to 2 1/3 cups the water to 1 cup of water in the recipe. Keep the other ingredients the same.
 
Keyword pretzel bites, pretzels,

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