My brother recently sent me this email asking for help with his bread roll-making efforts:

“Recently I have been making bread rolls (which I put filling in and freeze then take to work for lunch). It is cheaper than buying them, and I enjoy making them. Ignoring the fact that I used the wrong baking paper last night and the rolls all stuck to the paper (you can’t legislate for idiocy), I am having trouble making them…. Well…. taste and look like the way my sister makes them!

I tend to do a double mix in the bread maker (1 Kg of flour) using the roll recipe that came with the machine, so that I only make them once every couple of weeks. They seem to rise quite nicely and are fluffy inside, but they don’t crust up very well and are not a good shape (flat shaped) and don’t taste as nice as yours! It may be related to the fact that I cheat a bit! I noticed that the bread maker doesn’t do anything with the dough for the last hour and 20 mins of the 2:20 making cycle, so I take the dough out of the machine after only 1 hour (when all the mixing is done) and cut the balls to shape prior to any proving being done, then I stick them in a warm place (usually a warm (40 deg) oven), lightly covering the balls of dough with cling film with a light smear of oil to stop them drying out. I let them rise for 2 hours then put them into a hot oven at 220 deg for 15 mins.

Can you send me some step by step instruction as to exactly how you produce your rolls with sufficient detail that an engineer can understand them? I know you do something strange with the yeast (pre-hydrate it or something), but I don’t know what this means and what yeast I should buy to achieve this result.”

So, here it is, my semi-secret bread machine bread roll recipe:


Malthouse Flour – 200g

Water – 600 ml

Dried Yeast – 2 tsp

Strong White Flour – 800g

Fat – 30g

Salt – 2 tsp

Semolina and/or white flour for dusting


1. Briefly mix 2tsp dried yeast, 200ml water, 200g malthouse flour. Leave in the pan of the bread machine for 24-48 hours.

2. The evening before you want the bread add 800g strong white flour, 400ml water, 2 tsp salt and 30ml olive oil/butter (I don’t always add fat).

3. Start the dough programme.

4. Remove the dough and place in a bowl covered with a plate or lightly oiled clingfilm. Leave in the fridge overnight.

5. Dust a baking sheet or (even better) cold pizza stone or other stoneware sheet with a mixture of white flour and semolina. Remove the dough from the bowl and shape into 24 rolls. Place close together, but not quite touching) on the baking sheet.

6. Leave to rise at room temperature for about an hour (covered with lightly oiled clingfilm) – but might take a little longer if the dough has come straight from the fridge.

7. Preheat the oven to 220C (or 210C fan). Lightly sprinkle the rolls with semolina. Place in the oven for 13 minutes. Check colour and remove onto a cooling rack when golden brown (temperature and time may needed to be adjusted slightly for your particular oven).

If you don’t want to do the first rising overnight in the fridge then you can leave it in the machine for 2-3 hours but I do think the fridge gives a better result.
I make these so often as they are quick and easy to make and guests always seem to like them.  I hope they’re not just being polite!