Honey Wheat Holiday Rolls Recipe


1 small potato (2½-3 ounces), red, white or gold, boiled, cooled, peeled and mashed*

Reserved potato water, plus enough additional hot tap water to equal 1¾ cups

2 tablespoons honey

1 package active dry yeast, about 2¼ teaspoons 

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2 tablespoons melted and cooled butter, coconut oil or vegetable oil

1¼ cups whole-wheat flour (162 grams)

3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour or bread flour (436 grams), plus a bit more if needed

1¼ tsp. salt

**Optional additions for basic dough: 2 tablespoons toasted wheat germ or 1 tablespoon ground flax seed (flaxseed meal) 

***Optional additions to knead into dough on counter: ¼  cup dried cranberries and ¼ cup toasted chopped walnuts; ¼ cup sunflower seeds and ¼ cup pumpkin seeds; or any other combination

1 teaspoon vegetable oil, for oiling bowl or bag

1 large egg, plus 1 teaspoon water, for egg wash

Optional toppings: Sesame seeds, poppy seeds, black sesame seeds, caraway seeds 


•*Scrub potato and place in a small saucepan.  Add water to cover and bring to a boil.  Continue boiling potato for about 15 minutes or until it is tender when poked with a fork. Remove potato from water and let cool. Pour remaining cooking water into a 2-cup measuring cup; let stand at room temperature until just warm; reserve. 

•When cool enough to handle, peel potato and mash it in a small bowl; set aside. 

•Stir honey into reserved water mixture until it is dissolves.

•Sprinkle yeast over water and stir briefly to moisten. Set mixture aside on counter for five to 10 minutes or until it becomes foamy or frothy on the top.

•Stir cooled butter or oil and mashed potato into yeast mixture; set aside.

•Place all of the whole wheat flour, 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. (**If adding the optional wheat germ or flaxseed meal, add it here.) Pulse two or three times to combine.

•With machine running, slowly pour liquid mixture (water, yeast, honey and potato) through food chute. Once dough forms, allow machine to remain on for 30 seconds more to knead dough.

•Lightly flour counter and transfer dough from processor bowl to counter (use your hands to remove dough, avoiding contact with the sharp blade). Roll and knead dough a couple of times, sprinkling it lightly with more flour if it is too sticky. (***If using the optional additions – dried cranberries and chopped walnuts or sunflower and pumpkin seeds – simply flatten dough on the counter with your hands, evenly sprinkle with additional ingredients and fold dough over itself and knead a few times to incorporate additions.) The dough should be smooth and light, and perhaps just a bit tacky when completed.

•Oil a large bowl or a gallon-size zip-lock storage bag. Transfer dough to bag, turning it to coat all sides with oil. Let dough rest on your counter for 30 minutes and then transfer it to the refrigerator for up to two days. Remove dough from refrigerator 30 minutes before you plan to form rolls.

•Line a large baking sheet or two smaller baking pans with parchment paper, or coat them lightly with oil.

•Turn dough out onto a lightly floured countertop. Dust top of dough lightly with flour. Using a knife or a dough scraper, cut dough into equal size pieces, about 1½-2 inches in diameter (about 4-inch pieces if you are making sandwich-size rolls). Form pieces into desired shapes and arrange rolls 1½  inches apart on prepared baking sheet(s). Cover rolls loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 30 minutes. 

•Arrange oven rack in center position. Heat oven to 350 degrees. 

•To make egg wash, whisk egg and water together in a cup.

•Remove plastic wrap and, using a pastry brush, gently brush each roll lightly with egg wash. Sprinkle with optional seeds, if desired. Place pan(s) in oven and bake rolls for 22 to 25 minutes (rotate pan(s) front to back once halfway through), or until they are golden brown and hollow-sounding when tapped. (The larger rolls may require an additional three to five  minutes.)

•Immediately transfer rolls from pan(s) to a cooling rack. Let cool for at least five minutes before serving. (If you made sandwich rolls, let them cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing.)

Rolls can be served plain or accompanied by olive oil or softened butter. Or you can make a simple honey butter by stirring together one stick (4 ounces) of softened, unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon of honey, and a pinch of cinnamon and salt. Chill butter for 15 minutes before serving.

Directions for freezing: 

Fully bake rolls and let cool for one  hour on a cooling rack. Store them in your freezer in zip-lock freezer bags. Remove the rolls from the freezer an hour before you plan to serve them. Ten minutes before serving, heat your oven to 325 degrees. Place the rolls on a baking sheet and warm them five to eight minutes.

 Makes about 16 dinner rolls or 10 to12 sandwich rolls.

Directions for Shaping:

Plain round with options: Hold a dough portion in one hand while using the fingers of your other hand to pull all of the dough edges to the center, pinching them together to hold. Turn the roll over onto the counter, pinched side down. Using both hands, rotate the roll back and forth until the top is smooth and tight. Lift roll and place smooth-side up on baking sheet. To enhance appearance, after rolls have risen for 30 minutes and have been brushed with egg wash, gently make a half-inch-deep cut in the center of the roll with kitchen shears or a sharp paring knife. If desired, you can make another cut going the other way. These cuts will open as the rolls bake.

Brioches à tête: Form rolls as described above. Holding the smoothed roll in one hand, use the fingers of your other hand to pull up a 1-inch piece from the center of the roll and twist two to three times. As the rolls bake, the top will remain like a small “head.” 

Three-strand braids: Cut each small portion of dough into three equal pieces. Elongate each piece into a 4-inch rope. Braid the three ropes as you would braid someone’s hair. Be sure to tuck both ends under braid, and then set onto baking sheet to rise. 

Knotted rolls: Form each portion of dough into a rope about 8 or 9 inches long. Bring both ends toward the center and tie them loosely together, as if you were tying a knot. Set them onto baking sheet as they are. Alternatively, you could tuck the ends of the knot underneath the roll, giving your knot a more finished look. 

Figure eights: Press dough into a rectangle about ¼-inch  thick. Use a doughnut cutter to cut rings out of dough and remove the centers (or use a 3-inch biscuit cutter and manually cut away a 1-inch piece of dough from the center). Gently stretch ring until it is 4 inches long and twist it once in the center. Set onto baking sheet to rise.

Cloverleaf: Oil a 12-cup muffin pan. Cut each small portion of dough into three pieces, forming each one into a circle. Loosely pile the three pieces into one muffin cup. Let rise and bake in pan. Be sure to turn rolls out of pan onto a cooling rack immediately after they are baked.