Wednesday 11 September 2019

Overnight Sourdough Bread Rolls

There is nothing like a fresh crusty sourdough roll for lunch.  When I first starting to make my favourite overnight sourdough bread I always made two loaves.  One day I started to shape half the dough into bread rolls.  It was the best ideas ever!

I have made these rolls so often that I expected that the recipe would develop until I had it perfect.  I should have known after years of blogging that recipe development is not necessarily linnear.  The way I do it has changed with different demands of my life and diet.

I used to shape the rolls by making them into a moneybag sort of shape. I would gather the corners and pull them up into a long neck and then fold it over into the dough.  The step by step photos below were taken when I was doing this.  (I had planned to retake step by step photos but it is messy work and I am often in a rush so have not found the chance.)
But now I am using a method that involves less handling.  It is similar to how I made hot cross buns earlier this year with tossing them about very gently in the fine semolina.  As you can see in the photo below I only use my fingertips, as much as possible to keep as much air in the rolls.  The I gently shape them, gently pulling the top of the dough to the bottom.  The top (which was the bottom) should be smooth.  When I pull the dough down sometime air pocket appear, which is a good sign that the dough has lots of air in it (don't pop it).  And the tighter the dough the better the crust.

The other change in making bread rolls that I have noticed, when looking at old photos, is that I used to make 12 at a time but now I make bigger rolls in batches of 8. 

We put them in the freezer and take them out for school lunches.  I occasionally experiment with my loaves of bread and often will try this out with my rolls as well.  Charcoal rolls were really fun for work lunches. 

We made bear buns one weekend by adding some little eyes, ears and noses.  A few looked ok but most of the burst in unsightly places.  Making fish shaped rolls was another fun activity (but no decent photos and cannot find a photo online) and maybe we will try these hedgehog rolls some time.

The bread rolls aren't so different to a loaf but as I make them often and find the shaping the most challenging aspect I wanted to share this.  In other ways they are more forgiving than a large loaf because there is less rising involved.  We sometimes eat them hot out of the oven.  I have given a recipe for just a batch of rolls but I usually make double and use half the dough to make bread.  They are incredibly soft when warm from the oven and lovely and chewy when cooled.  I imagine the recipe will continue to evolve but this is how it is for me now and I highly recommend it to you.

Variations on the dough that could be used for these rolls:

Overnight Sourdough Breadrolls
Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe
Makes 6-12 rolls:

150g of bubbly starter
285g water
9g salt
475g of flour
fine semolina (or flour or fine polenta) to dust

[A few hours before making the loaf, take sourdough starter out of the fridge and feed it so it gets nice and bubbly.]

About an hour before going to bed (or first thing in the morning) mix everything together.  It is easiest to mix everything except flour first and then add flour.  Use hands to mix if required.  Set aside covered with a tea towel for half an hour.  Knead in the bowl for about 15 seconds.  Cover with greased clingwrap or a bowl cover and leave at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours.

Sprinkle semolina or flour generously onto table or board.  Scrape dough out onto this surface.  Cut into 6, 8 or 12 pieces.   I use a plastic cutter but a large sharp knife will do - and might need some flouring.  The dough will probably need some flour to make it easier to handle it.

Gently roll each piece into a ball.  Do this by putting the corners as tightly as possible around the bun (without squishing the bun) so the floured bottom of the bun is like a little blanket around the bun.  Turn it over so the floured bottom is a smooth top.  Toss in flour/semolina to stop it being sticky but treat it as though it is very fragile just using finger tips.  Then use your hands to shape as much as possible but don't worry too much if the bottom looks like a scrunched blanket.

Grease or line the bottom of a casserole dish with a lid (mine is enamel).  Sprinkle with some semolina or polenta.  Place rolls here as you shape them.  They can be either close together or have space between - if they are close together they can lose their round shape.  Let them rise in the casserole for 30 minutes with the lid on.  While the rolls rise, preheat oven to 240 C. 

Slash each roll once or twice (I do this in the casserole dish).  Bake for 20 minutes with lid (or foil cover) on.  Remove lid and bake another 10-20 minutes.  Bread is ready if it sounds hollow when tapped.

Cool on a wire rack or eat warm.  Can be frozen on the day of baking and then microwaved on 30 seconds at 50% power in the morning and used to make rolls for lunch.

On the Stereo
Music from the motion picture Control, a film by Anton Corbijn
- Various Artists


  1. Those are some fine looking rolls! Picture perfect.

    1. Thanks Nupur - they always make me happy when I have them warm and smelling so delicious straight out of the oven - glad if the pictures capture some of this

  2. Beautiful rolls! I've tried making rolls before and they always turned out too hard and crusty for my liking. Gotta do some more experimenting!

    1. Thanks vegetarian dreams - these are quite crusty but so soft inside - I usually bake them as long as the bread but I think I could bake them less.

  3. Gorgeous rolls, the semolina enhances it texture. love the bear ones too. Shame about the fish shaped ones, perhaps you can make them again. VegHog would love your hedgehog shaped ones when you come to make it.

    1. Thanks Shaheen - I had meant to have another go at the fish rolls this weekend and then forgot - hope to try it again soon. Yes VegHog would love the hedgehog ones - wonder if she has tried them as she is great with bread rolls.

  4. My husband has been making lots of loaves of bread, so we haven’t been buying any, and thus have had no rolls for quite a while. I must encourage him to try some, like yours.

    best...mae at

    1. Thanks Mae - occasionally when I haven't baked rolls I buy some but now I am used to the home made sourdough, the high street ones don't enthuse me much. I was happy to find my sourdough bread worked as rolls - though not soft light fluffy ones (not surprising as my bread is not either)

  5. how do you get the dark tops on your rolls?
    john playne

    1. Hi John, I turn up my oven on high and if when my rolls come out of the oven they are too light, I leave them in another 5-10 minutes!

  6. At last! I have been making sourdough since the beginning of the year and have been searching for a rolls recipe. This looks great. Thanks for sharing. Cbeers Marg

  7. Has anyone tried to do this recipe doubled as a loaf?

    1. Hi Anon - I have made this recipe doubled as 2 loaves but not as one loaf (that would be huge) - highly recommend the loaves -


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