The pitter patter of tiny buns


I am suffering from tiny bun syndrome. I know it sounds like a personal problem. Maybe it is…but wait a second…no it’s not! (But, I kind of wish it was a personal problem so that I could stop dieting). It’s just that I keep stumbling on recipes that promise me big buns. The kind that will make embarrassingly big sloppy sandwiches and I keep pulling these lovely little petite things out of the oven. It’s embarrassing. Especially because my boyfriend has a big appetite and keeps giving me a look of disappointment when he sees how small his sandwich will really be. (It never occurs to him that he will eat two sandwiches anyway and that those two sandwiches will equal the one big sandwich of his hopes and dreams). These rolls turned out to be 3” x 3” inches. Monsters I suppose, compared to the microscopic 2” x 3” ciabatta rolls I made last time.

Unlike those ciabatta rolls, these rolls made up for their diminutive size with a huge amount of flavor. I made these rolls with sourdough instead of active dry yeast and the sponge was allowed to sit for 15 hours. The fermentation was evident in the final bread. The flavor was stupendous! The recipe called for green olives. Trader Joes has a Greek olive medley composed of 4 or 5 different olives of different colors and textures. I used as many green olives as I could and supplemented them with a few black olives to get the ¾ cup needed for the recipe. I have had kalamata bread that was too salty before. These olives are much more mellow and less salty and they contributed a nice tang to the bread. The final product was sour and tangy with a soft interior and a nice crispness to the crust. I was very pleased with these rolls and look forward to making sandwiches with them.

Next time… well… I may double the recipe and then make 9 instead of 12 rolls. What do you think? Will I get the right size rolls or should I double the dough and go for even less rolls?

By the way, here is a vanity shot of the interior of the rolls (oh yeah! Light and fluffy!)


These little rolls are going out to all of you YeastSpotters. But if you haven’t seen YeastSpotting before, you are in for a treat! Click here to see what other kinds of yummies were baked up this week!

Rustic Olive Rolls

Adapted from the King Arthur flour site


½ cup water

3 tbsp sourdough starter

1 cup unbleached bread flour


All of the sponge

2 tbsp olive oil

½ cup (+ 1 tbsp if needed) water

1 tsp salt

2 cups unbleached white flour

¾ cup chopped, pitted olives (Greek olives worked well – use any mild, firm less salty olives)

To make the sponge: In a large bowl, mix water, starter and flour until well combined. It will look like a little ball of dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave out on the counter 14-15 hours. (Start early in the evening if you want to bake first thing in the morning). In the morning, you should see that your little ball dough has tripled in size!

To make the dough: Add olive oil, water, salt, and flour to the sponge. Mix until well combined. My dough was very dry and wouldn’t come together. I added another tbsp of water and it seemed to hold together. You may need to as well. Just add water by the tablespoon until you get a dough forming. Turn the dough out onto a kneading surface. Knead 10-12 minutes or until the dough is soft and you can stretch it without breaking (window pane test).

Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rise 1 to 1 ½ hours.

Put olives in a clean dish towel and wring out any excess liquid from them. Turn the dough out onto the kneading surface. Flatten the dough and add the olives. Knead the olives into the dough until they are well incorporated into the dough.



Pat the dough into a 9” x 9” rectangle. Be careful to make the corners as sharp as possible and the edges as straight as possible so that the rolls will have a pretty shape.


Cut the dough into six 3” x 3” rectangles. Rub flour into the surface of a clean cotton dish cloth (not terry cloth or you will be sorry) . Place the dish cloth on a hard surface like a cookie sheet. Space three pieces of dough on the dishcloth and pushing the cloth up against the edges of each dough piece to form a support. Set the other three dough pieces on the cloth and repeat so that they look like this:



Cover the dough with another clean dish towel and let it rise 1 to 2 hours until it is very puffy.

Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Carefully transfer the rolls to a peel that has been lightly dusted with cornmeal. Transfer the rolls to the stone and bake until browned, 20 – 25 minutes. Transfer the rolls to a cooling rack. Cool completely before enjoying.





  1. October 1, 2009 at 2:39 am

    Personally, I would love to have tiny buns, and no rolls at all. I think the size of these is great, actually, because then you have a good way to rationalize eating two. They look delicious, and of course I’m a sucker for all that rusticity.

    • Mimi said,

      October 1, 2009 at 7:17 pm

      Everyone would love to have tiny buns and no “rolls” at all. I guess that’s what the gym is for. 😉

      My boyfriend had two buns for turkey sandwiches last night and they were actually way more filling than they looked. I should never have complained about the small size. Once they were piled up with goodies, they were perfect! He had to stop midway on his second sammie!

  2. Andreas said,

    October 1, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    Nice buns. Those should make an ideal office lunch.

    • Mimi said,

      October 1, 2009 at 7:14 pm

      Thanks for telling me I have nice buns, you really made my day! 😀

  3. October 2, 2009 at 7:03 am

    […] Rustic Olive Rolls […]

  4. drfugawe said,

    October 2, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    Hi Mimi,
    I don’t trust myself in making “eye” measurements of rolls – I weigh the dough – 3 oz makes a small roll – 3 1/2 oz a med roll – 4 oz a large one. Works well.

    • Mimi said,

      October 2, 2009 at 3:21 pm

      Thanks for the tip. I always eyeball things and I often get what can only be termed as “interesting” results. lol!!

  5. October 2, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    very…veeeeeeery ddeeellliccccioooooous !!!!!!
    thank you alot !!!

  6. Madam Chow said,

    October 2, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    I have to make these for Thanksgiving – my friends asked me to bring bread for turkey sandwiches, and this looks fantastic!

    • Mimi said,

      October 2, 2009 at 6:21 pm

      How fun that you guys are planning for leftovers already!

      I don’t know if you noticed, but I posted about turkey sandwiches today using these rolls. They came out really well!

  7. October 2, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    Your rolls look wonderful! I don’t even like olives, but these rolls look delicious especially with that mouth-watering turkey! Mmmm…

    • Mimi said,

      October 2, 2009 at 7:13 pm

      Thanks Cathy! If you don’t care for olives and the rolls still look good, that says a lot! I think a good substitution for the olives would be sun dried tomatoes. You could try something like that.

      These rolls were so good that we finished them up in 24 hours and I am making another batch right now (we still have turkey and it would be a shame to eat it on any other bread!)

  8. Stefanie said,

    October 4, 2009 at 10:45 am

    The buns are great! I like olives in bread so much but I never bake olive buns before. Such a good idea! The recipe is already on my toDo list!

  9. Christina said,

    October 5, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    Hey Mimi, thanks for the comment on my blog!

    These look great, and funny thing, I was having a conversation about olive bread the other day. Since I don’t have a starter, could I just make a regular sponge and proceed with the recipe when ready?

    • Mimi said,

      October 5, 2009 at 8:15 pm

      Hi Christina,
      I’m so glad you want to make these. They were so good that I made another batch as soon as we inhaled the first batch.

      There is a link to the original recipe on this blog post. It is the link that says “adapted from the King Arthur site” under the recipe title. The original recipe uses standard yeast which I never use anymore due to having a really strong starter.

  10. November 24, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Nice article, great looking website, added it to my favorites.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: