sandwich rolls

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Allright, so. NaBloPoMo. National Blog Posting Month, or in my case, Clean Out the Crazy-Full Pending Folder Month. I remember it being pretty tough last year, and it’s looking like it’s going to be even more challenging this year, because we finally (!!!) got a move date, and it’s the first week of December. That means November will include not just travel for Thanksgiving, but flying across the country to look for houses, and packing packing packing!

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Keeping with NaBloPoMo tradition, I’m starting with the oldest recipe in my Pending folder – from six months ago, yeesh. Please don’t take the delay as a sign of its quality! Truthfully, I’m just lazy and it’s a time-consuming entry.

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I’ve been battling with finding or developing the perfect sandwich roll recipe for years, and I finally nailed it. My grocery store makes great sandwich rolls – fluffy and with a soft crust so your filling doesn’t squoosh out the other end when you try to bite into your sandwich. The problems with these rolls are twofold: First, they’re completely white bread, and I always like at least a little whole wheat flour in my bread. Second, they’re a bit too big for grilled cheese with tomato soup. And I suppose there’s a third problem: Our grocery store isn’t moving to New Mexico with us. So sad.

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My initial attempts to make sandwich rolls tended to be either too dense, with a crust too tough, or misshapen. I had difficulty getting round rolls without deflating the risen dough. Or the dough didn’t have enough structure so the rolls turned into pancakes as they expanded instead of balls.

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I believe I’ve solved all of those problems with this recipe. A slow overnight cold rise improves flavor, and then two turns of the rising dough gives it plenty of strength, so that when it rises, it rises up and not out. To shape the rolls into even circles, I pulled the edges around and pinched them together to increase the surface tension of the doughballs. This is a bit risky, because you have to be gentle and just tug at the very edges of the dough without deflating the dough. Then just roll it around a bit to even out the edges.

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Perfect! Light and fluffy, tall, with a soft crust, and completely adaptable with regards to size and degree of whole wheatiness. And I figured it out just in time – before moving far, far away from my trusty favorite grocery store and their wonderful sandwich rolls.

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One year ago: Mushroom Phyllo Triangles and Crawfish Phyllo Triangles

Printer Friendly Recipe
Sandwich Rolls

Makes 12

Feel free to substitute whole wheat flour for some of the unbleached flour. If you use 1 cup whole wheat and 3 cups white flour, you’ll hardly notice a difference in flavor, texture, or rising time. At 2 cups whole wheat flour and 2 cups white flour, the difference will be more significant but the rolls will still be excellent. If you want to use even more whole wheat flour, I would adapt 100% whole wheat sandwich bread into rolls.

If it works better for your schedule, go ahead and skip the overnight chill.

4 cups (19.2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1½ cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons milk for brushing the rolls

1. Stand mixer: Mix the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the water and oil. Continue mixing on medium-low until the dough is elastic and supple, about 8 minutes. You may need to add a little more flour or water to get the correct consistency – soft but not really sticky. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

By hand: Mix the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the water and oil. Stir the mixture until the dough comes together. Transfer it to a floured board or countertop and knead, incorporating as little flour as possible, for about 10 minutes, until the dough is elastic and supple. You may need to add a little more flour or water to get the correct consistency – soft but not really sticky. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

2. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it warm and rise at room temperature until it’s double the original volume, 2-4 hours (depending on the temperature of the ingredients you started with and the room temperature).

3. Give the dough one turn, by folding it into thirds like a sheet of paper going into an envelope, than in half the other direction (as shown in the photos above). Allow the dough to rise again, which should take about an hour. Give it another turn, then let it rise again, which will probably take less than an hour.

4. Once the dough has doubled in size for the third time, cut it into 12 pieces. Very gently pull the edges of each dough ball around to one side and pinch them together, as shown in the photos above. Roll the dough between the palm of your hand and a board, lightly floured if necessary. Place the formed rolls, pinched side down, on 2 baking pans lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

5. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 400ºC. Let the rolls rise until puffy and about one and a half times their original size, 30-45 minutes. Brush them with milk and bake for 12 minutes, until golden brown and an instant thermometer inserted into the center of one measures 185-200ºC. (I suggest baking just one pan of rolls at a time. An extra 15 minutes of rising won’t ruin your rolls.) Let cool until room temperature before serving, about 45 minutes.


  1. We are so lucky you are participating in NaBloPoMo!

  2. Congrats on having a date for the move – but that’s a lot to pack into one month! Good luck balancing all of it and posting your heart out; I’m pretty sure I have, oh, ONE recipe to post that I haven’t posted yet. Yeesh!

  3. These look delicious! Will add this to my growing list of “hurry up and make this recipe” 😉 Good luck with the move!

  4. Yum, those look delicious! I’ve got some pulled pork planned this week that would be delicious on those.

  5. I miss your favorite grocery store too! I’ve been trying to find a recipe for their apple cider raisin bread…though a bakery here makes a whole grain bread with dates that mostly makes up for it. These rolls look wonderful…sometimes something as simple as a good sandwich roll is the hardest thing to find.

  6. These look delicious! Perfect sandwich rolls. Glad you finally got your move date! You must be so excited!

  7. It’s on like donkey kong! At least you got the post done. I kinda wussed out and just posted a 2-liner. I’ll have to dig into the drafts like you did. Smarty pants! Goodness knows there are posts begging to be published. Me+Bridget = lazy mutha effing bloggers. HA! 1 day down… 29 more to go. PS- Good luck with your move! I’m moving IN November so it’s gonna start getting crazy up in my mug soon. Eep. What have I done?? 😛

  8. Christine says:

    I have to try these! I love Wegmans too! I could never move anywhere that doesn’t have one 🙂

  9. Beautiful rolls! I know how feel about November. I’m playing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and we are getting close to closing on our first house, so it’s nothing but craziness in my life. Good luck!

  10. I grew up with Wegmans and miss it terribly! I have to say at least I can get there when I go back home. New Mexico is certainly not Wegmans territory! Good luck with the move and getting to be close with family again!

  11. Love your sandwich rolls! Don’t they just make the perfect sandwich even better?! Looking forward to all of your posts this month; I’m taking the NaBloPoMo plunge with you!

  12. I wish I had some fresh bread in my kitchen right now….I could totally munch on it:)

  13. FYI – when I click on ‘printer-friendly’ I get a recipe for sweet potato hash.

  14. bridget says:

    Christine – Oops, thanks for the heads up! It’s fixed now.