Slathered in butter, dipped in gravy, soaking up sauce – dinner rolls can certainly play a very important roll in an evening meal. This isn’t to say that they’re required, but there is a reason that so many restaurants will put out a basket of dinner rolls for every table that comes in.
The inspiration for these dinner rolls came from Susan at Farmgirl Fare, who mentioned to me that she was having difficulty finding a good recipe for whole wheat dinner rolls online. This isn’t to say that there aren’t a lot out there – the internet is a huge place, after all – but sometimes when there are so many to choose from it can be tricky to nail a good one in one shot. So, I decided to whip up a batch as a variation on another whole wheat recipe that I really like, Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns.
These rolls use white whole wheat flour instead of regular whole wheat flour and are slightly richer than the burger bun recipe due to the addition of a little buttermilk and melted butter. I added some bread flour to my sponge (the flour/yeast mixture that is the starter for the rolls) instead of starting out with the whole wheat flour because I wanted the extra gluten of the bread flour to give the rolls some lightness and elasticity; dinner rolls shouldn’t be dense and I wanted to prevent that while keeping them mostly whole grain.
The resulting rolls were delicious! The recipe comes together very easily, even though there are several (short) rising stages to wait through. They had a nice nutty whole wheat flavor without a dense or heavy feel, and a hint of butteriness really gave them the feel of a dinner roll. I baked them in a 9-inch round cake pan, so the rolls stuck together into one gorgeous mass of bread, which pulled apart beautifully to reveal the fluffy crumb. I served them with chili and they were perfect for soaking up the sauce, but they also went well with butter and jam and the leftovers toasted beautifully for breakfast. This recipe will also work with regular whole wheat flour, although you might need to add a bit less than the amount called for here, as whole wheat flour tends to absorb a bit more moisture than white whole wheat or regular all purpose flour. The rolls will also not be quite as light, but should still be on the fluffy side for a whole wheat roll.
White Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls
1 cup bread flour
1 cup water, warm (110F)
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (1 packet)
2-2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg, for egg wash
Combine 1 cup bread flour, 1 cup water and the yeast in a large mixing bowl and stir well. Let it stand, covered with plastic wrap, for 1-3 hours (the time is flexible here, so feel free to run errands while you wait), until it is bubbly and slightly puffed up.
Stir 2 cups of white whole wheat flour, buttermilk, melted butter, sugar and salt into the sponge. Add the remaining whole wheat flour a tablespoon at a time, mixing with a wooden spoon until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. This can also be done in a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding extra flour as necessary to prevent sticking, for 6-8 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, 1 1/2-2 hours.
Lightly grease an 8-or 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper.
Turn risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 9 equal portions. Shape each into a round and place into the prepared cake pan (7 around the edge, two in the center). Cover rolls with a clean dish towel and let rise for 45-50 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375.
Using a fork, beat egg with 1 tbsp water. Brush egg wash onto the risen rolls.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until rolls are a dark golden brown color on top. An internal read thermometer inserted into the side/center of the rolls should read 195-200F. Don’t be fooled if only the outside rolls are dark; Bake a few minutes longer until the rolls in the center of the pan brown, too.
Remove rolls from pan and let cool for at least 10 minutes on a wire rack before pulling apart.
Makes 9 rolls.