Sourdough dinner rolls with orange and rosemary

Sourdough dinner rolls with orange and rosemary

Rosemary and orange. Is that a good combo? It sounds like it should work, but I can’t remember that I had tasted it before. That was my reaction when I read a recipe for dinner rolls from a Swedish baker named Jan Hedh. I love rosemary in bread, but orange? I was not that sure. Bread that contains whole pieces of fruit is something I try to avoid. I don’t even like raisins in my bread. That is, by the way, a big problem during Christmas if you live in Sweden. EVERY traditional Swedish Christmas bread seems to be loaded with raisins.

But this recipe was different. It contained something called orange paste. That sounded much better, so I decided to give it a try.
The author had used commercial yeast in the original recipe. But I’m a sourdough-guy, so I decided to replace it with a wheat starter.
The hydration of the dough was also very low, only 45%. I can understand why, because it contains a lot of olive oil. 100 gram to 500-gram flour. A little bit too much for my taste, so I replaced the half of it with water.

It turned out to be a good decision. I decided to use a stretch and fold technique for this dough, instead of running it in a dough mixer. It was not that easy to mix all that oil into the dough, even if I had reduced it by half.

I also decided to reduce the amount of rosemary and orange paste by half. You normally serve dinner rolls with food, and I don’t want the bread standing out too much. It should be a complement to the main dish, but it should not take over the whole show. But if you want to try the original recipe, you only have to double the amount indicated in the ingredient list.

The Orange paste was, by the way, a quite ingenious idea. You only have to zest an orange and mix it with sugar by kneading it with the backside of a spoon or a palette knife. I can think of a lot of ways to use this nice ingredient. Drizzle it over a cup of vanilla ice cream together with some rum? No?
Yeah, I know. This is a recipe for bread. Not some dessert for people with a fondness for alcohol (but admit that it sounds good).

Orange paste

Next step is to fry the rosemary in a skillet with olive oil until somewhat crispy. Everyone knows how wonderful it smells when baking bread. With this recipe it starts to smell heavenly before the bread is even in the oven. Fried rosemary and zested orange. I was in a good mood that day in my kitchen. The only problem was the stretch an folding. It was not easy with all that oil. Next time I will use the dough mixer.

Frying rosemary

orange paste and fried rosemary

I also ran into some trouble when it was time to form the rolls. According to the recipe, the dough should be divided into smaller pieces that were supposed to be rolled out in a tube with a pointed end. Then it should be wrapped together. But no matter how many times I tried, I always ended up with something that reminded me of those things you can find on the sidewalk, produced by man’s best friend. So I decided to go for a more traditional form.

Forming dinner roll


Unbaked dinner rolls

The rolls were ready after 15 minutes. I was afraid they would be a little bit dense due to the low hydration, but that was not the case. The crumb is quite closed, but it still offers a soft and nice texture. But I will probably increase the hydration a bit next time. I think 60-65% would be fine. The taste of orange is almost imperceptible, so perhaps I will increase the amount of orange paste as well. The taste of rosemary, on the other hand, was just enough.

Sourdough dinner roll with orange and rosemary

Dinner roll with orange and rosemary

Ordinary dinner rolls tend to be a bit boring, but these have some character due to all the different flavors. My family and I ate them together with a chicken stew, but I think they will go well with almost any dish. Or why not eat them alone with your homemade butter?

Sourdougdinner rolls with orange and rosemary


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Sourdough dinner rolls with orange and rosemary
Small, delicate sourdough dinner rolls with a taste of rosemary and just a hint of orange. A perfect complement to all sort of dishes.
Sourdough dinner roll with orange and rosemary
dinner rolls
dinner rolls
Sourdough dinner roll with orange and rosemary
  1. Fry rosemary in olive oil in a skillet over low heat. Let cool.
  2. Zest the orange and rub with sugar with the backside of a spoon or a palette to a paste.
  3. Mix all ingredients except salt. Be sure that all flour is hydrated. Let the dough autolyzing for an hour.
  4. Add salt and stretch and fold the dough 8 to 10 times. Perform 3 sets of stretch and folds during bulk fermentation, spaced out by 30 minutes. Total recommended bulk fermentation is 3-4 hours depending on ambient temperature. The dough in the recipe fermented for 3 hours in 77ºF / 25ºC. During colder seasons, you can place the dough in the oven with the light on only.
  5. Dump out the dough on a lightly floured working space and divide it into 15 pieces. Form each piece into a ball. Be sure to get some tension on the surface. I use to squeeze the dough through the thumb and middle finger as shown above.
  6. Let the rolls rise for 1,5 -2 hours. Preheat the oven to 480ºF / 250ºC with two oven plates. One to bake the bread on and one just below.
  7. Score each loaf and place them in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until they have got a nice golden color. Pour some water on the plate below to create steam during the baking process.
  8. Let them cool on a wire rack
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  1. Hi. This recipe sounds wonderful. Can you please tell me how you decide how much starter to use when converting a recipe from yeasted to sourdough? Once you have worked it out do you then reduce the flour and liquid in the recipe to take starter into account?

  2. Hei Tomas, Nice. I made them today and they turned out Ok. I went for milder flavor: klementin zest and cinnamon… nice chewy texture. But they did not come out golden and baked too fast. Do you glaze with eggwash before baking? And do you bake @250 for 20min? It seemed too hot!

    1. Hi Sabine,
      I’m glad you liked the recipe.
      No, I did not glaze the rolls before baking. There are many reasons why your bread doesn’t get that nice golden brown color. And I realize that I have forgotten to point out the most important one in this recipe. Always add steam to your oven when you are baking bread. I have totally missed writing about that in the instructions. Sorry about that. I will correct and make an update.
      I don’t know how experienced you are about baking sourdough bread, but if you don’t add steam there’s a risk that your rolls will get a dull, boring brown-greyish color.
      If they are very pale it can depend on both over proofing or under proofing. In both cases, the reason is too little sugar. In under-proofed dough, there has not been enough time for the starch to be broken down to sugar. In over proofed dough, the yeast bacteria has eaten up most of it. No sugar, no Maillard reaction, and no nice brown color.
      As I said, I don’t know how experienced you are, Sabine. Perhaps you know most of what I have explained. If not, don’t hesitate to ask if you have any more questions, or if there is something you don’t understand.
      The time in the oven can vary a lot, so prepare yourself to be flexible. Different ovens bake differently, so if you feel that the temperature is too high, you can lower it to perhaps 220 the last 5 minutes.

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