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North Coast Current

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North Coast Current

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Preserved Home: Roll recipes to serve you and your family well

Homemade brown-and-serve dinner rolls are convenient and allow for a variety of topping options. (Photo by Laura Macklem)

My mom reserved brown-and-serve rolls for holidays and instead we had white bread with lots of butter with every meal, purchased at the Wonder Bread Outlet in Escondido right next to Thrifty’s. I carried on the tradition of only baking rolls on the holidays until I realized brown-and-serve bread can be made at home with the option of baking just a few each time.

Food prices keep going up while quality is going down, and that includes hamburger, hot dog and dinner rolls, which are often dry or taste like paste. When I do buy them, a pack of eight hamburger buns is too much since one daughter is away at college. Store-bought bread is previously frozen, and refreezing just impairs the already low quality.

With the goal of having high-quality, low-cost and fewer-in-quantity rolls and buns for dinner, I embarked on an experiment to make brown-and-serve breads at home, which is also the same idea as take-and-bake. I found there is no magic with these convenience breads; it’s really just a simple method that makes life easier on a busy night.

For starters, finding the right bun or roll recipe can be challenging. You don’t want a hamburger bun’s surface to be a chore to chomp, possibly irritating the roof of your mouth. Instead, you want a soft exterior while also sturdy enough to withstand a filling. For a dinner roll, you want a sturdy exterior and a fluffy interior to absorb a generous pat of butter. With the brown-and-serve method, you can enjoy a variety of handcrafted rolls in minutes on busy nights.

Brown-and-serve rolls are made by parbaking them at a lower temperature, ensuring they are done inside but not baked all the way. They will be brown on the bottom but pale on the top. I parbake my rolls at 275 degrees fahrenheit for about 15-20 minutes until the interior reaches 190 degrees. (I use a meat thermometer to check the temperature.) Place rolls on a cooling rack and then flash freeze by putting cooled rolls on a baking sheet and in the freezer. After rolls are frozen, store in a gallon bag in the freezer. To reheat dinner rolls, thaw and brush with butter. For hamburger buns, thaw, brush with egg wash and sprinkle with desired toppings such as dried onions or sesame seeds. Bake in a preheated 375- or 400-degree oven, depending on the recipe, until brown.

To make things even more convenient, I double the dough recipes to make one effort and mess. I also use the same hamburger bun recipe for hotdogs, which allows me to make long rolls to fit Costco hotdogs. Hamburger buns can be made small for sliders with the baking times adjusted.

Put aside gluey, expensive store-bought rolls and buns for homemade to make quick dinners extra special, it will serve you well.

Brown and Serve Rolls

1 1/2 tbsp yeast (or two packs)
1 tsp plus 1/3 cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup water
1 1/4 cups warm milk (110 to 115 degrees)
1/2 cup melted butter, cooled slightly
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs beaten
6 to 6 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

Melt the butter and allow to cool. In a mixer, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar in warm water. Add milk, butter, salt, 1/3 cup of sugar, eggs and 3 cups of flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. It took me the entire 6 1/2 cups. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic 5-7 minutes. (Because I have a powerful Bosch mixer, I only kneaded for 5 minutes. You can also hand knead for 7-8 minutes). Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour.

Gently punch dough down and turn onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 24 pieces and shape each piece into a ball. Place either in baking pans or on a cookie sheet and bake at 275 degrees for 20 minutes or until done inside. The rolls should not be brown; however, they should be done inside (190 degrees). Allow rolls to cool, and freeze. To finish cooking, thaw rolls for about 45 minutes or until thawed, brush with melted butter and bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until done. Size of rolls will depend on baking time. Brush rolls with butter again if desired.

Bulk Hamburger and Hotdog Rolls

6  cups of all-purpose flour, divided
4 tsp instant yeast
¼ cup white sugar
2 tsp salt
2 cups milk heated to 115 degrees
¼ cup of olive or avocado oil
2 eggs

Mix together 5 cups of flour through salt then stir in milk, oil and eggs. Beat on high for 2 minutes. Lower speed and add more flour until the dough forms in a mass. Knead in mixer for 5 minutes or by hand for 50 turns. Cover and rest for 15 minutes. For regular sized hamburger buns, cut into 3-ounce pieces, shape and flatten with the palm of your hand on parchment-lined baking sheet or silicone mat. For hot dog buns, roll flat, then roll tightly, pinching the seams together and tucking in the ends. For an average sized hot dog bun, roll to 6 inches long. Shape the rest of the dough as desired or put a portion in a large disk in the freezer for future use.

Cover uncooked buns with a clean towel and let rise for 30 minutes or until doubled in size. For brown-and-serve, bake at 275 degrees for about 15 minutes or until 190 inside, then cool and freeze. To finish baking, allow buns to thaw, brush with an egg wash and sprinkle with desired toppings. Bake at 375 until done. To bake immediately, set oven at 375 and bake for 12 minutes or until done.

For more recipes, tips and details, visit Laura Macklem’s Preserved Home blog at

Columns represent the views of the individual writer and do not necessarily reflect those of the North Coast Current’s ownership or management.

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