More adventures in sourdough

  Flaky Dinner Rolls
Sometimes I have an easy time figuring out how to make a traditional yeasted recipe with my starter. Sometimes I don’t. In this recipe for flaky dinner rolls, I decided I could just replace half of the milk with starter. Sounds logical, right? There is no other liquid in the recipe and the recipe seems pretty straight forward. The problem… is… that when I get a hold of a recipe, sometimes I don’t follow instructions very well. Somewhere between reading the recipe and executing the recipe, I reduced the needed sugar by 1 tablespoon (I figured the wild yeast didn’t need 3 tablespoons of the stuff) and I swapped out a cup of the white flour for whole wheat. I think the whole wheat flour was my undoing. The stuff seems to suck up the moisture!
When I mixed and then began to knead the dough, it was very dry. At this early point in the process, the dough is supposed to be sticky and a quarter cup of flour you have reserved from the total flour called for in the recipe is supposed to be added to the dough one tablespoon at a time until the dough is still sticky feeling but does not stick to your hands. My dough was dry and brittle! Not good! I proceeded to knead in the extra half cup of milk, one painful tablespoon at a time, incorporating the extra flour one tablespoon at a time as my dough alternated from too sticky to dry again. Somehow, the dough was salvaged. I marched on with the next interesting steps.
Interesting I say because next you roll the dough into a rectangle, spread it with softened butter, fold the dough, wrap it in plastic, freeze it, roll it out again, fold it, wrap it in plastic, freeze it, roll it out, roll it up and slice it and bake it. Phew! I managed to use unsalted butter which I think was an error. My boyfriend loved these but something was missing and I think it might be the salt in the butter. Another comment about the butter – make sure you spread it out evenly and you don’t have any lumps. I had lumps. When I rolled the dough, the lumps went bursting through the dough like little yellow geysers (so much for freezing the dough. My butter was impervious to cold).
I had to bake my rolls for an extra five minutes to get the nice browning I wanted. When I pulled the rolls out of the oven they were swimming in butter. In order to avoid scalding myself with butter, I pulled back a bit and managed to burn my arm on the oven door. So be careful when you make these!! They are hazardous. Swimming in butter you wonder? Let the rolls sit in the tins a couple of minutes before transferring them to wire racks to cool completely. The butter miraculously disappears because it gets sucked back up into the rolls.
I had the same problem with these rolls that another baker had. The outer layers were crunchy but the inner layers were soft and bready. I’m not certain if it is the sourdough or if it was me not being adept at making a jelly roll or if my rolls which proofed for 15 minutes longer than the recipe wanted them to, did not proof long enough. If this happens to you, do not be tempted to be childlike and unwind the roll and eat it in ribbons. It isn’t nearly as good as taking a big bite and tasting the crunchy to soft, light textures your mouth will experience with each and every bite.

All in all, I was very happy with these rolls. Next time, I will play with the butter a little. I’m thinking that garlic and herbs or chili powder and onions would make a nice addition.

On Friday July 17th Nick from imafoodblog will be hosting YeastSpotting.  Click on this link to visit his site

Flaky Dinner Rolls

Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine
 ½ cup active sourdough starter
1 cup 1 % low fat milk
1 cup whole wheat flour

2 cups unbleached white flour, divided

3/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons butter, softened (I used unsalted, salted would be better)

Olive oil spray

Mix sugar, starter and milk in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 3/4 cups white flour and salt to yeast mixture; stir until a dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth (about 5 minutes); add enough of remaining ¼ cup white flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel slightly sticky). Cover dough with a clean kitchen towel, and let rest for 10 minutes.

Roll dough into a 12 x 10-inch rectangle on a lightly floured baking sheet. Gently spread butter over dough, making sure there are no significant lumps. Working with a long side, fold up bottom third of dough. Fold top third of dough over the first fold to form a 12 x 3-inch rectangle. Cover with plastic wrap; place in freezer for 10 minutes.

Remove dough from freezer; remove plastic wrap. Roll dough, still on baking sheet (sprinkle on a little more flour, if needed), into a 12 x 10-inch rectangle. Working with a long side, fold up bottom third of dough. Fold top third of dough over the first fold to form a 12 x 3-inch rectangle. Cover with plastic wrap; place in freezer for 10 minutes.

Remove dough from freezer; remove plastic wrap. Roll dough, still on baking sheet, into a 12 x 8-inch rectangle. Beginning with a long side, roll up dough jelly-roll fashion; pinch seam to seal (do not seal ends of roll). Cut roll into 12 equal slices. Place slices, cut sides up, in muffin cups coated with olive oil spray. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, at least one hour or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Bake dough at 375° for 20 -25 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool in pan for a couple of minutes if you see molten butter bubbling around them. Remove from pan, and cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack. Serve rolls warm.



  1. nick said,

    July 17, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    I do the same damn thing w/not following instructions so well. Then the dance: little flour, little liquid, little flour, little liquid, ad ad nauseum.

    I think the finished product here looks worth the effort!

  2. Mimi said,

    July 17, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    Thanks Nick. The rolls are definately worth it. Especially the next day, reheated in the oven so that they are warm and a little crunchy!

  3. Stefanie said,

    July 17, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    The rolls look great.
    And I know the problem with burning the arm on the ovendoor very well, too I have a scar on one forearm where I burned it really badly last year 😦 But that does not keep me from baking (and does not make me more carefully when handling the oven) 😉

  4. pragmaticattic said,

    July 17, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    I know what you mean about wwh flour. When you swap it in for white, you always end up adding so much more liquid. The rolls look yum, though. All well that ends well . . .

  5. Andreas said,

    July 17, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    Nice rolls.

  6. Madam Chow said,

    July 17, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    I’m sooo impressed that you’re swapping the starter for yeast in traditional recipes. I’m just starting to do that, and it really is a matter of honing one’s bread instincts, I think.

    • Mimi said,

      July 17, 2009 at 9:03 pm

      Hi Madam,
      I found an Excel spreadsheet in the downloads section over at that I somehow tweaked a bit and it is pretty realiable for helping to swap starter in a recipe. Of course, I got lazy and decided to wing it on this recipe. That’s when all hell broke loose, lol! I think Arch was right though, whole wheat does change things in a recipe. It was either the starter or the flour that gave me so much grief.

  7. Elle said,

    July 17, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    I’ve sometimes had trouble switching sourdough starter for yeast and liquid. Looks like you worked it our really well because the rolls are lovely! I often find that I ahve to let the dough have a final rise after shaping that is much longer than the recipe calls for, but sourdough sometimes is just slower…and then has more flavor for the slowness 🙂

  8. Aparna said,

    July 19, 2009 at 3:03 am

    Despite all the problems you seem to have had, I have to say your rolls look gorgeous.
    I have made these and I lnow they’re very good.

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