Serves a Crowd

Rosemary lemon rolls

December 12, 2010
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

  • Makes 12
  • 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
In This Recipe
  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.
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