Brown Butter-Glazed Holiday Rolls

By • December 14, 2010 13 Comments

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Author Notes: Growing up, we didn’t have rolls at the dinner table...ever. But once a year my grandmother made rich Christmas Eve Fritters fried in olive oil called Zeppole di Vigilia di Natale, and even though they were dusted with sugar we ate them with dinner, as well as dessert; they were something we all looked forward to, and I especially loved to help make them.

In my late teens I became the special occasion family cook, and because I am fascinated with yeast baking, yeast rolls on the dinner table became my family addition. These browned butter rolls were created for holidays or special occasions, my mission was to make a rich roll to remember.

It’s probably needless to say, but when served, spreading on additional butter will not be necessary…but it is up to you!

The dough for this recipe is adapted from my Yeast Wreath recipe, on site, ( and the rich, buttery addition was floating around in my head somewhere!

Food52 Review: One of the things I like about testing these recipes is that it requires me to use new ingredients or try different techniques. I wasn't sure as to why use baking powder? Why use powdered milk + water just to mix it back together? Why solidify the brown butter to re-melt it, or why wait for the milk and butter mixture to cool instead of just using it right away? But these rolls created such an uproar at the dinner table, I don't think any of that matters—they are so darn good!SallyCan

Makes 30 small rich, buttery rolls - 4 x 2 inches

  • 3 cups bread flour – divided, plus extra for kneading
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons wheat germ
  • 1 teaspoon malt powder – I prefer to use this, but see next ingredient
  • NOTE: 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (use if not using the malt powder)
  • 1 package fast rising yeast
  • 1/3 cup dry powdered milk mixed into 1 cup of warmed water (or 1 cup milk, I prefer using the powdered dry milk)
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar (or honey)
  • 4 tablespoons of the solidified (if made the night before) browned butter = 2 fluid ounces melted browned butter
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • Additional brown butter, melted - for glazing
  1. One day or so ahead of time, if you prefer prepping ahead: brown 2 sticks of butter; cool and refrigerate, it will solidify but that is ok. This makes more than enough butter needed, for recipe, but it’s always nice to have extra on hand.
  2. To Brown Butter: 1. Heat a thick-bottomed saucepan on medium low heat, add 2 sticks of sliced up butter - melt and cook, check often, give the saucepan a shake; the milk solids will rise to the top and start to foam up. 2. Check for browned specks to form at the bottom; the butter will start to turn golden and will be done when it has turned a medium dark and gives off a nutty aroma. 3. Move the saucepan to a cool surface and strain out the solids. Use immediately or store covered in the refrigerator for a future use.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together 1-3/4 cups flour, wheat germ, malt powder (or baking powder), salt and yeast. Set this flour mixture aside until needed - in step 4.
  4. In a saucepan, add and stir together the water/dry powdered milk mixture (or milk), agave and browned butter; heat just enough to melt and incorporate all the ingredients. Cool down to room temp before combining the wet and dry ingredients.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the reserved flour mixture. Add the egg and mix with a hand beater on low for 1 minute and on high for 3 minutes, or until smooth.
  6. Add the remaining flour. Fold and mix with a spatula until a soft ball forms - may need a tablespoon of extra flour to help.
  7. Grease a bowl, add the dough ball, cover and rise for 2 hours. Punch down and knead a couple times, after it has doubled.
  8. If needed melt down some of the solidified browned butter (for this step and the next); coat the bottom of a 15 x 10 x 2 inch baking pan.
  9. Roll the dough ball into a 30-inch log and divide it into 30 pieces. With your fingers, flatten each piece into a disk and moisten with brown butter; fold each disk in from both sides towards the middle, tucking in the ends to form a smooth roll. Place into the baking pan to let rise.
  10. Before rising, brush with brown butter, cover and place in a warm area for 1-1/2 hours.
  11. Preheat oven 350°F. Before baking, brush with another layer of butter. Bake 15 minutes, turn baking pan, front to back, and continue to bake until golden brown - about 10-15 more minutes.
  12. Remove from the oven, brush with one last layer of butter. Let sit about 15 minutes before serving.

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