Cornmeal Molasses Rolls

March 15, 2016
2 Ratings
Photo by Posie Harwood
  • Makes one 9-inch pan
Author Notes

A simple but incredibly rewarding recipe from Land O' Lakes: These humble rolls have a touch of sweetness from molasses and some texture from cornmeal. I like them any time of day, and they're easy to make ahead and freeze. The best part? Only one rise instead of two, so they come together with minimal effort. —Posie (Harwood) Brien

What You'll Need
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant or active dry yeast (1 package or 1/4 ounce)
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup medium-ground cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  1. Grease a 9-inch round pan and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the yeast and the lukewarm water. Set aside for 5 minutes to proof (the yeast should look puffy on the surface after that time).
  3. Pour the boiling water into a large bowl and slowly pour in the cornmeal, whisking as you pour to make sure there are no lumps.
  4. Add the molasses, butter, and salt to the cornmeal mixture. Stir until the butter is melted.
  5. Add the egg and whisk thoroughly.
  6. Add the flour and the yeast mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes. The dough will be on the stickier side, but it shouldn't completely stick to your hands: You should be able to knead it. If it's much too wet, add up to 1/2 cup more flour (just a bit at a time) until it's sticky but you can knead it.
  7. Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces. I recommend using a digital scale for accuracy. Weigh the dough on a piece of wax paper, then divide by 16. Pinch off pieces and weigh each one to make sure they are the proper weight. This will ensure your rolls look beautiful and uniform but it's not mandatory!
  8. With floured hands, roll each piece of dough into a ball and place it in the prepared pan.
  9. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.
  10. Just before the end of the rise, preheat the oven to 375° F.
  11. When the rolls have risen, bake them for about 30 minutes. They should be golden and sound hollow when you tap on the surface.
  12. Remove the rolls from the oven. Brush lightly with melted butter if you'd like them to look nice and shiny. Let cool, if you can resist!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Taylor Stanton
    Taylor Stanton
  • amysarah
  • Barb Starr
    Barb Starr
  • Posie (Harwood) Brien
    Posie (Harwood) Brien

17 Reviews

Taylor S. January 7, 2020
I was so excited about these but they were fairy disappointing. The texture was too dry even though my dough was adequately hydrated, and they tasted a bit flat - needed a tad more salt. The cornmeal texture was great however and the molasses flavor was a highlight.
P H. April 7, 2018
Made these tonight, they're incredibly easy to make and the texture is fantastic.
Erin October 10, 2017
One more question about rolls for you...I promise ;) I've had questions about this recipe and your make ahead rolls recipe. I've decided on this one. The difference between the two is that with this one, the dough is shaped immediately after making (doesn't rise first). So if I plan to refrigerate these shaped rolls, do I let them rise for 45 min in a warm place first, as Step 9 indicates...THEN put them in the fridge? Or do they go directly into the fridge immediately after rising first? Thanks so much for your help :)
Posie (. October 10, 2017
Of course! So, I'd skip the initial rise--shape them, and put them in the fridge right away. Then when you're ready to bake, let them come to room temperature and get puffy, then bake! Enjoy!! Let me know how they turn out!
Erin October 11, 2017
I will definitely let you know :) And thanks again!
Erin October 15, 2017
The rolls were a hit last night! Thanks so much for your help, Posie :) The bread flour worked beautifully, as did holding the shaped dough in the fridge for about 24 hours. I just wished I had taken the time to weigh each piece of dough, as you suggested. Too many things going on in the kitchen at that time though ;) Next time!
Erin August 25, 2017
Definitely want to try these rolls! Have you ever made them with bread flour? I have an abundance right now, and would love to use some up.
Posie (. August 25, 2017
I haven't tried but it should work fine!
Erin August 25, 2017
Thanks! I'll try it out.
amysarah March 12, 2017
I made these for a dinner party last night. Excellent and - due to short, single rise - really easy as a semi-last minute addition. I let them rise for a little over an hour (cold day) and used good maple syrup instead of molasses, which I didn't have. Worked great and I think honey would have too. Would definitely make again.
Sujata November 16, 2016
Freeze it after baking or before and then thaw and bake?
Barb S. May 20, 2016

i don't have a 9" round pan. Would an 8" x 9" pan work?
Posie (. May 20, 2016
I think it should be fine!
Amy March 31, 2016
Made these today. Two things...first off, they are incredibly easy. If using a mixer, I mixed with a hook on medium speed about 4-5 min, just until it made a smooth "windowpane" when stretched. Second, when baked as directed, using unsalted butter, the rolls tasted very "flat". They very much need salted butter. And maybe a sprinkle of sea salt on the buttered top. Other than that adjustment, I'd make these again and again. Start to finish (in a commercial proofer and combi oven), they took about an hour and a half. At home, probably a little longer, but still much faster than a "double rise" type bread.
B N. March 28, 2016
Could you sub 1/4 cup of honey in for the molasses?
CanadaDan March 29, 2016
wondering the same thing about maple syrup
Posie (. March 29, 2016
I think it would work to use either, but the taste is going to be slightly different. Molasses isn't quite as sweet as either maple syrup or honey, and I really love the flavor it adds. That being said, I think they would still be delicious and the texture should still work perfectly, they will just be more like plain cornmeal rolls. Let me know how it works if you try it!