Soft Bread Rolls

With summer, hopefully, just around the corner - that is, if we've not had all we're going to get already - I thought I'd have a go at making a 'burger type' soft roll, minus the sesame seed 'cos I've ran out!

Bead rolls

Time has moved on since I first made these rolls in June 2008. The recipe's changed slightly. Rather than confuse things with a new article, I've amended the recipe below.

Ingredients for 9 large or 12 smaller rolls:
600g Strong Bread Flour
120ml Hot Water mixed with:
300ml Cold semi-skimmed milk (you want the total liquid to be about 35 - 37°C when you add it)
1½ teasp Salt
2 tablespoons Cooking Oil
1 sachet Fast Action Dried Yeast (7g)


I make this using a Kenwood food mixer. But it's easily amended to make it by hand.

I put the flour into the bowl, then chuck the salt in and mix it with a spoon. Then I add the yeast and mix it again. Next, I add the oil and water/milk and stir it with a spoon until the ingredients are roughly mixed together. This is for no other reason than to stop the flour splattering everywhere when I turn the mixer on!

I mix it on a low setting using the dough hook for five minutes, then I give it a rest for a few minutes and then mix it again for another 5 minutes. Then, I tip/scrape the dough onto a floured board and bring it together into a ball using as little flour as possible. Into the now empty bowl I put about 1 teaspoon of oil, put the dough back in, and rub it with the oil. I cover the bowl with a tea towel and forget about it for an hour or so.

The dough

A word about the dough: This dough has a ratio of 70% water to flour which is higher than many 'traditional' recipes. It makes a lighter textured bread which most people nowadays prefer. You could make it by hand if you want to, but be warned, this mix is very sticky! If you do make it by hand, persevere when you knead it and try not to add too much extra flour, just accept that your hands will be a sticky mess, and get on with it. Knead it for a good 10 minutes until it is a nice 'silky' texture. Don't try and cheat at this stage or it won't be any good at all.

Rising the Dough:
Recipes generally tell you to leave the dough in a warm place, an airing cupboard or something similar, for about an hour, until doubled in size. It may take an hour. It may take longer. What I do is judge by size, not time. Ideally, the temperature should be about 26°C but I generally just put it to one side in the warm kitchen. As long as it's above 4°C the yeast will still be active; mind you, at that temperature you'd be starving by the time the bread rose and was baked!

When I say "doubled in size", I mean doubled in size:

The risen dough

Shaping and proving the dough
Now for my favourite bit - just shove your fist into the middle of the dough. Yes, I mean it - just thump it in the middle. It'll collapse making you wonder why you bothered leaving it to rise in the first place! It's necessary, so just enjoy it!

Tip the whole lot onto a floured surface and work it around for 30 seconds or so, then shape it into a ball. Cut this into 12 even parts for small rolls, or nine for larger rolls for burgers. I flatten each piece out and fold the sides in to the middle tensioning the under-side as I work around each piece. When the under-side is smooth and 'tight' I turn it over and push it down to make a flat disk with a smooth top.

Shaping the dough

I then sieve some flour over the top. Alternatively, you could brush it with water and put sesame seeds, poppy seeds or something similar on top.

I now leave the dough to rise again. When it's about half risen I put the oven on 180°C (160°C fan) to warm up. Many old recipes give a time for the dough to rise - say 20 minutes - what nonsense! Sometimes it's fairly quick, other times it may be an hour or so. What we want is for it to nearly reach it's full size - the bigger the better - as long as it doesn't collapse! The pictured dough is of the smaller rolls after they've risen:

The risen dough

Cooking the bread
For a soft roll, I bake the bread at 180°C in a 'non-fan' oven; it works far better than a fan oven for soft rolls. I then cook them for 20 minutes and, if when I tap the bottom of the loaf it sounds hollow, it's cooked. If you only have a fan oven, it's hard to keep them really soft; it helps to cook them at a lower temperature, maybe 170°C or even 160°C and to wrap them in a clean tea-towel immediately after cooking.

These rolls are very light, have good keeping qualities, and freeze well.

For a crustier roll, have the oven at 220°C (200°C fan) and put a metal tray into the oven as it warms up. Immediately after you've put the bread rolls in to cook, put some water, say 150ml, on to the very hot tray to create a steamy atmosphere. Remove the water tray after 10 minutes.

These crustier rolls are best eaten on the day of cooking.

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There are 37 comments


Absolutely true Phil, your methods of making bread rolls and bread are the same as mine. As I read through it I kept feeling as if I had written that article myself. It’s true, great minds do think alike!

For my bread and rolls I use:
500g of flour, 300ml of lukewarm water, 1½ teasp of Kosher Salt, 2 tablespoons Rapeseed Oil, 1 sachet Fast Action Dried Yeast, and a pinch of sugar.

Keith, (URL) - 17-08-’14 18:59
Chris Botha

Ive been searching for just such a simple recipe. Just one question though. You mention
Milk in the ingredients but dont seem to ever mention putting it into the mixture.

Chris Botha, - 03-10-’14 15:20

Oops, thanks Chris, I’ve now amended it.

Phil, - 03-10-’14 17:21

Fantastic rolls, have tried several recipes, all failures until now. These turn out great every time and so I felt the need to thank you for sharing your particular recipe. Love your blog too!

Ann-Marie, - 25-11-’14 12:26

Thanks for your nice comments, I’m glad that you enjoyed them.

Phil, - 26-11-’14 17:29
Charlie Hocking

These make great rolls and a really easy recipe, just wish I had a mixer because kneading by hand is very messy but well worth it. Thank you

Charlie Hocking, - 09-12-’14 15:52

Thanks Charlie.

Maybe Father Christmas will bring you one!?

Phil, - 09-12-’14 15:53

We work in cups and ounces, could you convert this to cups and ounces for me. I would love to try them.

Heather , - 29-12-’15 17:09

Hi Heather,
Regrettably, the weight of a cup of flour varies depending on the supplier and as I’m in the UK, I don’t have access to US brands of flour to know what they weigh.

You can convert grams to ounces by dividing by 28.

Hope this helps.

Phil, - 05-01-’16 13:37

Thanks for the recipe it’s a great one! I only have a fan oven and I cooked them on 160•c they were lovley, I can imagine them to be softer with the gas oven. Thanks for the recipe :)

Joe , - 19-02-’16 00:30

Thanks for that Joe. It’s great to hear that people find it useful.

Phil, - 03-03-’16 17:11

Hi, just made 9 sound hollow when taped underneath, but instead of looking soft they look and sound crusty? I have cut into one , it looks lovely. Plus I didn’t use my fan oven, I left them in for 20 minutes , I had the oven on the temperature on 180c as you said to do. ??

Joan, - 23-02-’17 13:39
Robert Hill

I made these on Friday. They are excellent. My wifes favourite bread rolls so far. I usually prefer the well done/rustic/country rolls.

They were great with pulled pork.

I am making some again tomorrow :)

Robert Hill, - 27-02-’17 12:43

Thanks you both for the kind comments:

Joan – perhaps your oven ‘runs’ a bit hot. Wrapping them in a towel when they come out of the oven is said to make the crust softer.

Robert – for a crusty version, half the oil, increase the temperature to 200 – 220°C and put a thick metal baking tray in the oven as it heats up; put it on the shelf below the one that you’ll put the rolls on to. When you put the rolls in the oven, tip ¼ pint of water on to the tray on the shelf below them (watch out for the steam). Close the oven door quickly. After the first ten minutes, open the oven door to let out any remaining steam and if there is any water left, take the tray out of the oven. Close the door and finish cooking.

Hope this helps

Phil, - 27-02-’17 12:51

Made them today, gorgeous, very soft and I used a fan oven.

Joan , - 22-03-’17 16:56
Jan Hooper

I found iyour recipe on line several weeks ago and have been making the bread rolls every weekend since! Love, love, love you can’t beat homemade. Thank you so much for sharing.

Jan Hooper, - 02-04-’17 11:42

Hi Jan and Joan

I’m so glad that you enjoy the rolls.

Phil, - 03-04-’17 16:34

For a long time I’ve wanted to cook really soft rolls and I have tried these a couple of times with excellent results.
I don’t have a mixer but i do have a Panasonic Bread machine. I used exactly half the recipe, on the basic dough programme. 2 hours 20 later all I had to do was take the dough out, split into 4, shape and put on a baking sheet to prove for a while, dust the top with flour and bake. Perfect.
I also tried using 2/3 white to 1/3 wholemeal flour. This also worked very well and made me feel a bit more virtuous. I baked them at 160°C not in a fan over for 25 mins. Again perfect.
Thanks again for the recipe

Tim, - 15-04-’17 14:48

Thanks Tim,

I’m sure that many others will find your instructions for making them in the bread-maker useful.

Best regards

Phil, - 15-04-’17 22:30

Used your recipe twice and have enjoyed the final product so thanks

Andrew, - 12-02-’18 17:40

Hi Andrew, I’m glad you like them.

If you don’t need them to keep well – say, if you’re using them that day – reducing the oil will make a lighter roll.

Phil, - 20-02-’18 16:30

I also start these in a Panasonic bread machine
I use full amount (600 g flour), but I use the pizza dough timer (45 mins) for the mix and kneed, and after the beep I leave it another 45 mins to prove, leaving the heat still on. Then divide into nine rolls (118 g each), and bake as instructed.

Jim, - 12-07-’18 11:43
Phil Young

Thanks Jim,
Dad makes bread using the bread machine to prepare his dough. it seems like a good way to use the machine.

Phil Young, - 12-07-’18 14:55
Lisa Smithurst

We all love this recipe for your bread rolls can not make enough that’s the problem I now have can you tell me is the recipe just double if I want twice as much thanks

Lisa Smithurst, - 22-07-’18 14:19
Phil Young

Hi Lisa,

Yes, basically you just double the recipe. I’m really pleased that you like the rolls.

Phil Young, - 31-07-’18 19:35

Just tried this recipe today. I’ve been looking for a great recipe for soft rolls using my bread maker to leaven the dough and this is absolutely it.

A fantastic result, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all the family.

Thank you for sharing this.


Angela, - 12-01-’19 14:51

I just have to ask, are these the same rolls we would normally get when buying a bacon buttie in the U.K.? I’m in Canada now and the rolls here just don’t come up to snuff when I make my Lorne sausage.

John, - 05-03-’19 15:14
Phil Young

They’re similar, but with a little more substance. If you want them lighter, reduce the oil to 1 Tablespoon.

Phil Young, - 19-03-’19 16:36
wendy capelin

Hi, I make all my own bread so have accumulated many different recipes over time, but I have to say that this always my go to recipe. I have made loaves as well as buns and all different types of flour and they always turn out amazing! Thank you for sharing.

wendy capelin, - 21-04-’19 13:22
Stuart Burgess

Can you use Whole Milk if semi skinned isn’t available

Stuart Burgess, - 17-06-’19 17:08
Phil Young

Yes, of course. They’ll be fine.

Phil Young, - 18-06-’19 00:26
Andy L

A great recipe, I’ve been trying to match shop bought soft white rolls for my children, they loved them. Thank ou for publishing this recipe.

Andy L, - 01-08-’19 21:59
Eve Howard

12’s were beautiful. I’ll try with less oil next time to try the ‘lighter’ version, just to see the difference as they won’t last long in our house anyway. May I ask, if I make them smaller, ie. 18 or 24’s would you recommend less cooking time? I noticed someone above did 9’s for 25mins. BTW I do them batch…if that makes a difference with air flow?!

Eve Howard, - 05-08-’19 12:54
Phil Young

I cook these on a low temperature in a non-fan oven to ensure softness, but there’s a fine line between keeping them soft and them being under-cooked. I suggest a trial bake before you make them for anything special. I’d not reduce the time lower than (say) 12 – 15 minutes. But, that’s just a ‘gut’ feeling – not based on actually doing it.

Phil Young, - 06-08-’19 15:53
Jennifer Pedersen

Hi, I would like to know if I Can use fresh yeast, and if so , how much?

Jennifer Pedersen, - 21-08-’19 16:43
Phil Young

Yes, of course you can. I’d use 15 – 20 gm per 500gm of flour. Bloom the yeast in about 150ml of the liquid at body temperature (37°C or thereabouts) before adding it to the bulk of the mix.

Phil Young, - 22-08-’19 12:47

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