One of my favorite parts about breads – especially homemade bread – is the crispy crust that forms in the oven, but a crispy-crust bread isn’t always ideal for all applications. Sandwiches and hamburgers, for instance, usually do better with something a little softer. I love my standard hamburger bun recipes, but lately, I’ve been on a bit of a mission to come up with a new recipe for soft sandwich rolls that keep well and don’t involve a ton of fat (since, if I wanted my sandwich on challah or brioche, I could always just go with that to begin with).
I decided to experiment with yogurt in my bread because it often contributes a nice tenderness to baked goods. It didn’t take long for me to realize that yogurt was a very good idea. The rolls turned out to be soft and moist on the inside, with a soft crust – a classic sandwich roll-type crust that is easy to bite into and doesn’t shatter into a million crumbs with each bite. The crumb of the bread is open enough to soak up juice from, say, a nice piece of hot roast beef, but is sturdy enough to hold your average cold sandwich – with mayo and mustard – for hours without getting soggy. They have a very mild, slightly sweet flavor that will go with any filling you might come up with.
I feel that I should also note that there is no dairy in these rolls other than the yogurt, and this makes them a great choice if you (or the person you’re baking for) are lactose intolerant. The bacteria used to turn milk to yogurt feed off lactose, so it shouldn’t upset any stomachs, while still giving you the soft texture and nice flavor of your average made-with-butter-and-milk soft sandwich roll.
The amount of flour you need will depend completely on how thick your yogurt is, so don’t worry if you don’t use the exact amount I’ve specified below. I used my go-to yogurt of choice: a thick, nonfat, Greek-style yogurt. It is about 50% thicker thick than your average plain yogurt and has a nice tang to it. The tanginess doesn’t really translate straight to the rolls, much like using buttermilk in a bread or cake doesn’t leave you with the sharp tang of buttermilk – however, both add tenderness to the finished products.
The rolls can be cut in half to make dinner rolls, too. You will probably have to cut the baking time down by 5 minutes if you chose to go this route. Fortunately color is a reliable indicator of doneness for these, so just take a peek in the oven every now and again and you should be fine. The rolls will keep for a couple of days when stored in an airtight container, so if you bake a batch on Sunday, they should still be just fine for sandwiches on Tuesday or Wednesday. I can’t guarantee they’ll last that long, since they’re also excellent with butter and jam and make a nice addition to breakfast, as well.
Soft Yogurt Sandwich Rolls
3 1/2 – 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp active dry yeast
3 tbsp honey
1 cup water, warm (100-110F)
1 cup yogurt (nonfat/lowfat is fine; I used Greek-style)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
In a large mixing bowl, combine 1/2 cup flour, the active dry yeast, the honey and the warm water. Stir well and let sit for 10 minutes, until slightly foamy.
Stir in yogurt, vegetable oil, salt and 2 cups of the remaining flour. Gradually stir in more flour until you have a soft dough that sticks together pulls away from the sides of the bowl (This can all be done in a stand mixer with the dough-hook attached, as well).
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding additional flour if necessary to prevent sticking, until dough is smooth and elastic, or about 5 minutes. Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Turn risen dough out of bowl and onto a lightly floured surface. Gently deflate, pressing into a rectangle. Divide dough into 10 even pieces with a board scraper or a pizza cutter. Shape each piece into a round roll. To do this, take all the corners of one of the squarish pieces you just cut and pull them together, pinching them to create a seal. This will pull the rest of the dough “tight” across the top of your roll, giving you a smooth top. Place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
Once all rolls have been formed, press down firmly on each one to flatten. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise for 25 minutes.
Bake for about 20 minutes, until rolls are deep golden on the top and the bottom.
Cool on a wire rack.
Store in an airtight container.
Makes 10 rolls.