Tuesday, January 03, 2012

When It's OK To Cheat

People who have known me over the last few years know what joy I take in baking bread. I love the whole process, sometimes even more than the finished bread. Even so, there are times when I need something to put on the table quickly...and I still want yeast bread, not quick bread. That's when I cheat. I use frozen bread dough. If it was frozen dough from my own freezer it wouldn't be a cheat, just me being superbaker or something. Alas, I don't put bread dough, unbaked, into the freezer. For one thing I would have to clean out the freezer to find the room. For another thing I would have to think of it when I'm making the dough. Maybe one day...

Until then I can use the frozen white bread dough from the market. One week in November they had it on sale and I was going to show some friends how to make this recipe, so I bought two packages...a total of 6 pounds. Unfortunately the time with the friends was cancelled due to illness of one of the friends, so the dough sat in the already full freezer. When it was time to prepare for our Boxing Day open house I decided that this would be a good time to use 2 pounds of the dough to make some rolls to go with the meat/cheese platter. It would have taken far longer to make these from scratch, time I didn't have, plus frozen bread dough has a light texture that makes good rolls.

First you thaw out the dough. I put the two lumps, still in their plastic bag, into the fridge for a couple of days. (Had meant to only thaw them for one day, but Christmas prep took over, so it ended up being two days.) By then the dough was not only thawed, but puffy.

I turned it out on a large floured board and used my hands to spread the dough, little by little, into a large rectangle. If you only want to make one pan of rolls, you can do the same thing with one pound of dough...the rectangle will be smaller, but otherwise the directions are the same.

Next I drizzled 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the dough and brushed it fairly evenly over the dough with a pastry brush.

1/4 cup mixed freshly minced herbs (I used the Simon & Garfunkle quartet of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme) are sprinkled evenly over the dough. You could also add salt or garlic salt if you like, or even finely minced garlic.

The dough is then rolled up jelly-roll fashion from the long side of the rectangle, and the edges pinched together once the roll is fully rolled. The rolls are then cut into pieces about one inch to 1 1/2 inches wide.

I used a piece of clean dental floss which gives a nice smooth top edge, but you can use a bench scraper or sharp knife.

Lay the rolls, cut side to the pan, in two greased 9-inch cake pans, leaving some room between the rolls for rising. Cover the pans with oiled plastic wrap and then a tea towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk.

When rolls are almost ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Uncover the rolls and mist with olive oil or brush with melted butter or milk, or leave plain as I did.

Bake in the preheated oven about 15 minutes, or until baked and tops are beginning to be browned. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes on a rack, then turn out of the pans and separate into rolls. Serve at once for best flavor and texture.

These rolls can also be cooled and packed into gallon storage bags and put in the fridge for a day or two. Reheat in a 325 degree F oven for 10 minutes. Best served warm.

Makes about 16 rolls


  1. Even Julia Child said it was ok to use frozen bread dough in her croissant recipe, so to me, not cheating, just giving your family delicious herb rolls in a little less time ;) Wishing you a wonderful, happy, prosperous 2012, Elle!

  2. We all have to have a magic trick or two in our hip pocket (aka freezer).

  3. Whenever I've seen pre-made dough in the refrigerated section of the supermarket, I've wondered if it was any good. How very nice to hear that it works so well.

    I love the sound of these savoury rolls too. (Simon and Garfunkel's parsley sage rosemary and thyme is a standard herb mix in our house too.)

  4. Ooh, wow. I've never used frozen bread dough - but here, it's popular to have short crust in ...square chunks. You thaw and roll it out, and it works just as well for pies and pasties and such. I love the idea of the convenience! I'm sure Trader Joe's has some good stuff, too. Those rolls look yum.

  5. Lisa, didn't know that Julia approved. If I didn't make my own bread dough so often I probably wouldn't think of it as cheating, but glad I made 'em.
    Tanna, Yeah, love culinary tricks.
    Elizabeth, I wasn't sure, either, but I also made cinnamon rolls with same dough and they were good, too. Love that PSRT is your standard, too.

  6. Tanita, Let me know if Trader Joes has frozen bread dough...it is likely even better. That short dough in square chunks sounds like a good culinary trick to have, too.