Bread Dough for Cinnamon Rolls, Dinner Rolls, etc.

Recipe Adapted from Bread, Toast, Crumbs by Alexandra Stafford

2 cups (297 g) unbleached bread flour
2 cups (264 g) unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus around 1/4 cup for dusting
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 cup boiling water
1 cup buttermilk
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) melted unsalted butter
Softened unsalted butter, for greasing
Flaky sea salt, such as fleur de sel, for sprinkling

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, and instant yeast. In a medium bowl, pour the boiling water over the buttermilk and stir to combine—the mixture will look slightly curdled. Let it cool for 10 minutes, then add it to the flour mixture. Add 4 tablespoons of the melted butter. Using a rubber spatula, mix until the liquid is absorbed and the ingredients form a sticky dough ball. (Note: I did all of this in my stand mixer and used the dough hook to knead it for about 5 minutes). Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap and set it aside in a warm spot to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the dough has doubled in bulk.

2. Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 375°F. Grease two 8-inch circle or square baking pans generously with the softened butter. Using two forks, deflate the dough by releasing it from the sides of the bowl and pulling it toward the center. Rotate the bowl quarter turns as you deflate, turning the mass into a rough ball.

3. Sprinkle your work surface with some of the dusting flour.

For Dinner Rolls…

Using your two forks and working from the center out, separate the dough into two equal pieces. Use the forks to lift one half of the dough onto your clean surface. Using as much flour as necessary from the surface, dust your hands and the exterior of the dough, then shape the mass as best you can into a ball. Using a bench scraper or a knife, divide the mass into 10 to 12 equal-size pieces, each 1- to 2-inches in diameter. Using as much flour as needed to prevent sticking, roll each piece into a ball—it’s okay if each piece is a little misshapen—then transfer to one of the prepared pans, spacing them evenly apart. Repeat with the remaining dough and the second pan. Do not cover the pans. Let the dough rise on the countertop near the oven (or another warm, draft-free spot) for 20 to 25 minutes or longer (up to 1 hour if they’ve been refrigerated), until the dough pieces have puffed to almost fill the pans.

4. Transfer both pans to the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden. Remove them from the oven and immediately brush the surfaces with the remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter and sprinkle with sea salt. Let the bread cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn it out onto cooling racks and invert it again onto plates. Let the bread rest for 5 minutes before serving.

For Garlic-Cheese Rolls

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons chopped garlic (fresh or jarred)
¼ cup shredded or grated parmesan
½ teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons chopped garlic (I used granulated garlic here)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
flaky sea salt for finishing

Turn dough out onto your floured work surface and gently pat it flat. Use a rolling pin to roll it out into a rectangle, about 1/4-inch thick. Spread the dough with the softened butter and then sprinkle the remaining filling ingredients over the butter.

Starting at the long edge, roll the dough tightly, dusting your fingers with flour as needed. Once you have a good, tight roll, slice that into even slices (about 14-16) and place in a greased 9x13 pan or 2 greased 9-inch cake pans. Cover with a damp towel and let rise for about an hour.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the rolls in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and then brush the tops with the garlic butter mixture. Let rest in the pan for a couple more minutes and then turn out onto a cooling rack before placing on a serving plate. Serve warm.

For Cheese rolls, eliminate the garlic, double the parmesan and add 1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese.

For Cinnamon Rolls

4 tablespoons melted or softened butter
1 cup granulated sugar
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt


3 cups confectioners sugar
5-6 tablespoons whole milk

Follow the above instructions for garlic-cheese rolls. After spreading the dough with butter, sprinkle liberally with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Roll and slice as instructed.

After baking and allowing the rolls to cool to room temp, drizzle with the glaze and serve immediately.