Sunday, November 11, 2012

'White' & Fluffy Dinner Rolls - With Whole Wheat Flour

As you all must have figured out by now, I am a great fan of the King Arthur Flour website. I collect and try their recipes. I read their reviews. I ask questions on the forums (or is it fora?) And so, imagine my surprise when, a few weeks ago I received mail from Laura, one of their baking experts concerning a question I had posted a long time ago. Truthfully, I had forgotten that I even had posted the question. It went something like this... I would like to bake soft and fluffy dinner rolls using whole wheat flour. I have tried and tried and, while they are always delicious, they also have all the hallmarks of a whole wheat bread: just slightly dense, and just slightly heavy. How can I bake rolls that are light and fluffy with whole wheat flour? The answers went back and forth with all kinds of suggestions. But the best answer, and one that actually worked, is this one. By way of KAF, and adapted from another bread baking blog, these are dinner rolls made from 'white' whole wheat flour. And maybe the best rolls I've ever baked. Thanks again, KAF!

Here's What You'll Need:
 for the Tangzhong (relax, I'll explain)
1/2 cup water
1/6 cup (2 1/2 Tbs) whole wheat flour

Mix the flour and water together into a paste, then heat it slowly in a pot until it starts to thicken, like a roux.  Like vanilla pudding.


2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3 tbsp+2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
All of the tangzhong*
2 tsp instant yeast
3 tbsp butter (cut into small pieces, softened at room temperature)

*Tangzhong - a Chinese method of cooking the flour and water before adding it to recipes for baked goods.

Mix this until combined, then, in a mixer, mix vigorously with a dough hook, for a long time until the dough will pass the window-pane test. My dough took 20 minutes! Finally, place the dough in an oiled bowl, turn to coat, then cover and let it rise for at least 2 hours. It may not double, but will be puffy.

Divide the dough into 10 equal-sized pieces and tighten them into rolls. Cover and let rise a second time, about an hour.

About 20 minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 375F (190C). Bake for 17 minutes or until a deep brown. Cool on a rack. I guarantee these are the best rolls you will ever make. I have already added them to my list of special breads!


  1. Hi, I'm so glad you loved the whole wheat dinner rolls. It's a great method for making whole wheat bread soft, right? :-)

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Absolutely! I discovered it quite by accident and have used it ever since! BTW, it works with all different flours, AP, whole wheat and even rye (although it takes longer). Welcome to breadmanTalking! :-)

    3. Yeah, I've since tried it with AP flour and made a black sesame/green tea braided loaf. It also works beautifully with challah. I'm sure any bread recipe could be converted using the technique. I haven't tried my hand at a rye bread yet (with or without the method0...I guess I'll just have to make one soon.

    4. Rye takes a little patience (but if you are a serious bread baker you have that)but is worth the effort. It has very little gluten and so is usually baked in combination with bread or AP flour. Or by adding in extra gluten. Either way, well worth the effort. Handle with care.

  2. Hi, I am somewhat new to bread baking but so far love it. There are so many recipes on your blog that I cannot wait to experiment with. However, just as any novice, I have a ton of questions, and then some. One of the questions is, can I make these rolls dairy free?

    Also, have you ever tried to add tea to the dough (maybe replacing part of the water)?

    Thank you very much.

    1. Welcome to breadmanTalking! I love it when someone new to bread baking discovers my blog. The short answer to your first question is yes. Believe it or not, I keep a package of dairy-free baby formula powder in my fridge for just that purpose. Yes, baby formula. It is healthy and contributes the same richness/softness of milk powder, but, of course, without the milk. As to your second question,... I have never tried tea but, as long as it is cooled to room temperature, there is no reason it shouldn't work 1-for-1 insteaqd of water or other liquid. Let me know how it works!