Serves a Crowd

Rosemary lemon rolls

December 12, 2010
4 Ratings
  • Makes 12
Author Notes

This is a story of a one of those little victories in life, one you didn't realize would be such a challenge. Starting with a recipe from Cuisinart, I followed along, innocently enough, but without results. So then I changed almost everything, adapting the ingredients, technique, temperature and time. First efforts sadly resulted in tiny little rocks that would make better ammunition than sustenance. A second batch using whole grains only added to the arsenal. I had used the paddle hook, then the dough hook...and maybe I just don't get it. Bad yeast or a bad baker, I'm not sure. But a third try yielded a lovely batch with ordinary all purpose flour, which was not my original intention. I retreated back to my old fashioned way of making stand mixer, just a wooden bowl, hands, and a tea towel. How are you supposed to get out your aggressions if you use a mixer anyway? And after two failed tries, those aggressions can mount! I really want to be in touch with my dough, feeling when it is just right...which for me means working with my hands. So after running out of bread flour, I used plain apf, which worked fine. I used a whole egg wash, which may have added a bit too much color. Maybe just the white is better, I begin to think. And then after all the helpful discussion on our site this week, I began another batch, this time with half organic bread flour and half spelt...but now with overnight refrigeration before the second rise. Much better! So that is the recipe that follows below. Once you get your technique down, these don't seem like so much work! But getting the technique down can be rather humbling. I almost changed the name to Holy Rosary Rosemary Rolls since the rolls started looking like gigantic rosary beads...with hope and a prayer in mind. I do love the process of working with yeast, which does give you plenty of time for reflections. Final result: crusty on the outside with a light, soft texture and full flavor on the inside. Spelt flour adds an interesting texture and distinctive light subtle flavor, great for bread! - Sagegreen —Sagegreen

Test Kitchen Notes

Thank heavens for Sagegreen’s perseverance, because these are wonderful, flavorful rolls, and well worth the multiple versions that led to this triumph. They were easy to make and came out so light and beautiful. This was my first time working with spelt flour and I love the slightly nutty, sweet flavor it added to the bread, though the lemon and rosemary keep it solidly in the savory camp. I found the kneading stage much faster with the spelt. Next time I make them, I think I’ll amp up the rosemary a bit as the lemon can tend to dominate a bit, or at least grind the rosemary longer with a pestle. And in the future, when I’m struggling with developing a recipe, I’m going to think of Sagegreen and this recipe and be inspired to keep trying! —TheWimpyVegetarian

What You'll Need
  • 1/4 cup excellent quality extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh organic lemon zest
  • 1 package of active dry yeast (note: dough will be best left overnight in fridge before second rise)
  • 1 tablespoon honey, room temperature (sunflower or other type)
  • 1 cup warm filtered water, about 105-110 degrees
  • 1 3/4 cups organic bread flour (King Arthur is good), and maybe a bit more
  • 1 1/2 cups organic spelt flour (or use all bread flour if not available)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 egg white, beaten for wash, or use one whole beaten egg as wash for more color
  • sprinkle of coarse salt on top, optional
  • additional rosemary leaves for top
  • optional drizzle of honey (sunflower if available)
  • unsalted premium sweet cream butter on the side, optional
  1. Using a mortar and pestle grind the chopped rosemary and zested lemon together to squeeze out more of their oils. In a small glass jar add the salt, herbs, and zest to the olive oil. Let these infuse for several hours and set aside. Note: you can make double the amount if you also want to reserve half for dipping the rolls later when serving.
  2. In a glass measuring cup add the yeast to the warm water. Stir in the honey. Make sure the yeast and sugar dissolve. Check in 5 minutes to see if there are bubbles and froth on top. If not, best to try another packet. If after 10 minutes there are no bubbles, start over! If the yeast has worked proceed on.
  3. In a large bowl, wooden preferred, add 1 cup of the flour mix and salt. Pour in the water yeast mix. Using a wooden spoon mix together. Mix in another half cup of flour and incorporate.
  4. Mix in the infused oil with the herbs and a pinch of salt. Add more flour by the half cup, mixing it in to the dough, until you have used 3 cups (half of each kind). Knead by hand until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add another quarter cup of bread flour to the bowl and knead that in to the dough. Use a bit more if needed. The dough should be elastic, but not sticky.
  5. Lightly oil a wooden bowl and place the dough ball in it. Lightly brush the top with olive oil. Cover with a tea towel; set in a warm place, free of drafts for just over an hour, until doubled in size.
  6. Punch the dough down. Brush the dough ball lightly with some infused olive oil and refrigerate in a plastic bag overnight before a second rise. Then let the dough come to room temperature until it doubles in size.
  7. After the second rise, punch down and divide the dough into 12 parts. Roll each into an egg-shaped ball. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Cover with a tea towel and let rise for half an hour.
  8. Brush an egg white wash on top of each roll. Sprinkle with coarse salt and additional rosemary leaves, if desired. Bake in a preheated convection (preferred) oven at 410 for 10 minutes. Then reduce heat to 375 and continue to bake for another 15-20 minutes until lightly browned. The rolls should sound hollow when tapped. Cool thoroughly on a wire rack. Serve warmed with a drizzle of honey and butter, or with infused oil for dipping, two lovely options.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Nadia Hassani
    Nadia Hassani
  • MissAtticus
  • TheWimpyVegetarian
  • hardlikearmour
  • lapadia

37 Reviews

Nadia H. August 22, 2011
Lucky you having taken a KA baking class. I am salivating over those each time the catalog comes in the mail but it's just too far away for me to attend. - My son, who is rather a picky eater, first hesitatingly tried a piece of my roll, and then took a whole for himself to eat with the red lentil soup last night for dinner. Now that's a real success!
Nadia H. August 21, 2011
Excellent recipe. I must admit I took a few shortcuts but the rolls were still great, both in flavor and texture. I did not refrigerate the dough overnight before the second rise because I needed them for dinner (if my number one rule is checking the ingredient list before starting, rule #2 is reading the ENTIRE recipe, which I didn't). And, I used regular KA bread flour. The rolls definitely need the spelt for depth, with only bread flour I would find them too "white". - Thanks to the generous amount of olive oil, the dough is very easy to handle, so smooth and not sticky at all. If I were totally new to bread baking, this is the type of dough I would want to get started with. I will definitely make these rolls again!
Sagegreen August 22, 2011
Thanks, MGT, So glad you tried them. I found the flavor grew with the refrigeration, but they can work without it. Experimenting with these gave me incentive to learn more about baking, which led me to take the weeklong artisan baking course at KA. There we made brioche, deli rye and vollkornbrot! I love the oven there.
Sagegreen August 22, 2011
Just added a head's up note to the recipe in the ingredient list about the overnight refrigeration, thanks. I often don't read the whole recipe either!
MissAtticus June 21, 2011
New here! This is my first Food52 recipe, and I love it. I just pulled these out of the oven and couldn't resist trying one right away- SO DELICIOUS! Thank you Sagegreen, for all of your hard work in perfecting this recipe.
Sagegreen June 21, 2011
Many thanks, MissAtticus! I am very honored you tried these! So glad you are enjoying them, too.
TheWimpyVegetarian December 25, 2010
I baked these off today and really loved them! I would probably amp up the rosemary and lower the lemon zest next time (and there will definitely be a next time) - but that could be because I did a better job with the lemon than the rosemary in getting the oils out with the mortar and pestle. I sprinkled them with salt crystals before I baked them and they were just wonderful!! So light and airy, perfect crust for me, and full of flavor and your directions were spot on for me. I love using the spelt flour and will now experiment more with it. I'm so glad I had a chance to test them!!
dymnyno December 25, 2010
Susan, you must take a "field trip"to the bale mill grist mill near me where they grind spelt flour on some milling days...let's do it in 2011!
TheWimpyVegetarian December 25, 2010
I would love it, Mary! Let's definitely plan it for 2011!
Sagegreen December 26, 2010
Thank you so much, ChezSuzanne for trying these. It is an honor! I am so glad you enjoyed them. I agree, more rosemary! Spelt is wonderful in bread. Hope you are having wonderful holidays. If and when I come out your way, it would be great fun to do a field trip. We could visit Mary! I am headed to LA in March, but there will be a conference in your area sometime I'm sure! Back to gilding springerles for our New Year's party!
TheWimpyVegetarian December 26, 2010
You're on! Definitely let us know when you're heading to SF!
hardlikearmour December 15, 2010
Great perseverance! Your rolls look great, and I love your story.
Sagegreen December 15, 2010
Thanks! Each time has seen improvements. I hope to take some classes at the King Arthur's education center to learn more about whole grain baking and yeast breads soon.
hardlikearmour December 15, 2010
The classes should be great! I'm sure you'll have fun and learn a lot. I live near Bob's Red Mill which is pretty sweet, but they have no classes.
Sagegreen December 15, 2010
Bob's Red Mill is my other favorite flour source. That would be fun to tour if they invite let you!
lapadia December 14, 2010
Cheers to your recipe, Sagegreen, and I loved reading your story!
Sagegreen December 14, 2010
Thanks, lapadia. The recipe is a work in progress!
JoanG December 13, 2010
Trust sSagegreen to come up with a unique and appealing recipe and a gorgeous photo. My mouth is watering!
Sagegreen December 13, 2010
Thanks, JoanG. This recipe is coming along!
ChefJune December 13, 2010
My sentiments, also. When I'm in a hurry, though, I use my Cuisinart. It gets the dough ready in a rush, but I still do the final knead by hand.

I'm going to have to try these, but not until 2011.
Sagegreen December 13, 2010
Thanks. I am still fine tuning the recipe.
adamnsvetcooking December 13, 2010
I love the the flavor combination here! Very yummie
Sagegreen December 13, 2010
Thanks. I think I need to return to the drawing board for one more try, though!
dymnyno December 13, 2010
I know exactly what you mean by "one more try"! Instead of throwing my last rockpile out , I sliced them thinly and toasted them to use with a dip (like Amanda's feta and honey).
Sagegreen December 13, 2010
Great idea. My third batch was good, but they still could be better!
hardlikearmour December 12, 2010
These sound awesome! I'm glad your hard work payed off.
Sagegreen December 12, 2010
Thanks, hardlikearmour. I love your cook photo btw!
hardlikearmour December 13, 2010
Thanks! It's a cake I made for an annual crawfish boil my friends have. I bet fig jam would be tasty on your rolls.
aargersi December 12, 2010
Rosemary and lemon is one of my favorite combos - warm from the oven and drizzled with honey? These sound like heaven! You are very brave for persevering ....
Sagegreen December 12, 2010
Thanks for the great suggestion! OK now on to Expedia!
mrslarkin December 12, 2010
You're right, Sagegreen, sometimes your hands are the best tools! I'm glad you persevered! These sound delicious.
Sagegreen December 12, 2010
Thanks, mrslarkin. Suggestions welcome, too!
TiggyBee December 12, 2010
Love these!
Sagegreen December 12, 2010
Thanks, TiggyBee. I think they will also store well for reheating later.
TiggyBee December 12, 2010
I love that you posted these even though you were staring down defeat!!
dymnyno December 12, 2010
These look beautiful! I love your story and please know I shared your pain! (my dogs were happy to eat rocks)
Sagegreen December 12, 2010
Thank you! Dogs are great that way. I only have cats, who won't touch the little rocks. I think I am just a bit out of practice baking with yeast.