There are few things I love more with my dinner than a soft roll. (Sticky rice is one of those few things…but that’s for another post). I also really love baking with whole wheat flour, but that and softness don’t usually go together. Normally I don’t mind that healthy bread is a little drier and more firm than white bread, but I figured there had to be a way to make a dinner roll that was both pillowy and made with whole wheat flour.
I started with some white whole wheat flour, and added gluten because I like what it does to the texture of the bread I bake. I know gluten is a hot topic these days, and one that I know far too little about. What I do know is that it doesn’t bother my stomach at all, and it does really nice things to yeast breads. So I use it.
I packed 12 rolls into a 9″ cake pan, as you can see in the first picture. I think only baking 8 or 9 in each pan would make the rolls have a nicer shape, so that’s what I wrote below.
(loosely based on this King Arthur Flour recipe)
3/4 cup warm water (around 110 F)
1 packet (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup milk, warmed up a little
2 tbsp softened butter
3 cups white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
1 1/2 tsp salt
Combine the warm water, sugar, and yeast in a small bowl and stir to combine. Let stand for about 5 minutes, or until the yeast looks creamy and frothy.
Put the flour, salt, and gluten in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with a fork. Add all the remaining ingredients, including the warm water and yeast. Mix with the dough hook for about 10 minutes, or until you have a smooth, elastic dough (if it’s not coming together, add a little warm water and keep mixing).
If you want to knead on the counter instead of using the dough hook, knead until the dough is nice and stretchy and doesn’t tear. Then shape it into a ball, put it in a lightly oiled bowl, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Grease two 9″ cake pans. Fold the dough over on itself a few times, then divide it into 16 or 18 little balls, and arrange them evenly in the pans. Cover the pans with plastic wrap and let rise for an hour.
Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.