Bake

Heavenly Oatmeal-Molasses Rolls

by:
December 13, 2010
16 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

I wasn’t a bread maker before I joined Food52. I caught the bug after trying AntoniaJames’ Buttermilk Oatmeal bread. I’ve explored many different types of breads and rolls since then. This one is an adaptation of a recipe for oatmeal bread from the James Beard Foundation website, which I checked out after Stephanie Bourgeois’ cook spotlight. When I tried it, the subtle depth of flavor from the molasses really surprised me. Even if you aren’t an experienced bread maker, don’t fear. The steps are straightforward and the dough is a dream to handle (no kneading). It is also very flexible because the 1st rise in refrigerator can go as little as two hours to overnight. One of the changes I made is to really up the butter because I love buttery rolls! Rolling up each roll helps give a nice and shred-y texture when you pull the rolls apart. And don’t pass on brushing the baked rolls with butter after they come out of the oven. The smell of the hot rolls and butter is heavenly, hence the name. - monkeymom —monkeymom

Test Kitchen Notes

Monkeymom's supple, rich rolls have just a hint of sweetness to them -- they're chewy and tender and full of deep flavor from the molasses, but versatile enough to complement (rather than overwhelm) a variety of main dishes. We love the ease of the first refrigerator rise, and these are virtually guaranteed to come out looking beautiful, with their butter-slicked and oat-flecked tops. - A&M —The Editors

  • Prep time 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Cook time 40 minutes
  • Serves 8-12
Ingredients
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup butter cut into cubes
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose or bread flour (up to 3 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter for brushing tops of rolls (up to 3 tablespoons)
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup lukewarm water with a pinch of sugar. Let stand until bubbly. If it doesn’t get bubbly, throw it out and get some new yeast.
  2. Scald milk then add it to the butter in your mixing bowl. When butter has melted, add brown sugar, rolled oats, molasses, and salt. Blend thoroughly and cool to lukewarm.
  3. Add egg and mix well. Add the yeast and mix to incorporate it. Then mix in 2 ½ cups of the flour. Add what you need to of the remaining ½ cup of flour until the dough loses its sheen. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Scrape the dough out of the mixing bowl and put it in a greased bowl. Turn to coat and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of two hours. It can sit overnight as well. It doesn't rise a lot.
  5. Turn out the chilled dough on a floured work surface and knead or fold and turn the dough slightly. Cut dough into 12 balls. Press each ball into a flat rectangle with your fingers, then roll up and tuck ends under. Place seam-side down in a well-buttered 9 inch round pan. Brush all over with ½ of melted butter and sprinkle with a little of the rolled oats. Let rise until doubled in size in a warm place, about two hours.
  6. Preheat oven to 350° F. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until rolls are nicely browned and sound hollow when you tap their tops. The internal temperature should be 190 degrees. Remove from the pans and brush generously with remaining melted butter. Let cool on a rack for 5-10 minutes.
  7. Serve warm…with salted butter!
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monkeymom

Recipe by: monkeymom

My favorite distraction is to cook. Though science and cooking/baking have a lot in common, I'm finding that each allows me to enjoy very different parts of my life. Cooking connects me with my heritage, my family, friends, and community. I'm really enjoying learning from the food52 community, who expose me to different ingredients and new ways to cook.

233 Reviews

kniterati January 10, 2021
Been baking bread for half a century. These rolls were a disappointment. They never achieved size beyond their formation. It stands to reason because without actual kneading to develop the dough, they can't rise. Instructions never say to knead it effectively. Needs a rewrite.
 
Laura P. January 10, 2021
I haven’t had that problem, but perhaps you were expecting something like a Parker House roll. Remember that oats have no gluten at all, and I make mine with even more of a “handicap” since I replace 40% of the white flour with whole wheat. The resulting rolls may not be as high-rising as a Parker House, but what is so delightful is that they are nonetheless fluffy and soft, not stodgy at all.
 
Livvy November 24, 2020
By blend, do you mean in a blend or just to mix thoroughly?
 
Laura P. November 24, 2020
Just mix by hand in your bowl, not in a blender or with electric mixer.
 
Marlys F. October 23, 2020
I have been making this recipe for 7 years now! It's still my go-to when making bread or rolls. Great texture, moisture, and flavor.

I let my bread maker mix and knead the dough, then move it to the fridge for the overnight rise, and in the morning form the rolls, 2nd rise and bake. For longer shelf-life, I also tried substituting 1 c of ripe 50% hydration sourdough starter for 1/2 c of the flour + 1/2 of the liquid. To do so, I mix the starter into the liquid ingredients at the bottom of the breadmaker than add the flour, salt and 1.5 tsp yeast on top. Worked great.
 
missshar August 11, 2020
Hello everyone, I know some people have commented about making these vegan but I was hoping someone could help me. My sister has an egg allergy and I was wondering if anyone's had success with turning these vegan. I figured I can used Earth Balance in place of the butter. I'm just not sure how to replace the eggs in a way that would provide similar results.
 
Ceege August 11, 2020
misshar, you can use 1 TBLS flaxseed meal mixed with 3 TBLS of water (let rest about 2 minutes) in place of one egg. I do not know how this will affect dough, but I have used this method in many recipes (including cakes). Hope this helps.
 
Biagio D. May 29, 2020
Dear Monkeymom, you are a GENIUS!! I baked these rolls a few days ago and so wonderfully delicious!!! Slightly hot with salted butter are the perfection. Thank you for sharing this recipe! All the best! Ciao ciao !
 
Ceege April 28, 2020
Oh my, I used to make these rolls all the time. For some reason I got away from baking them, so am glad for the email reminder to get out the yeast and get busy. Yum. I can taste them alread.
 
Laura P. April 28, 2020
Me, too! Thanks for the reminder, Cheri.
 
Cheri April 28, 2020
I made these rolls last night and baked them this mornjng, for supper tonight. I did cheat and pulled one of them out of the bunch and shared it while it was still warm, with my husband. He couldn't speak for a few minutes, even after he consumed the rest of his half. He just rolled his eyes towards heaven and gave a satisfied grunt that ended with "mmmmm!" They are scrumptious. Absolutely scrumptious!!! They will become a family favorite here in our household! Definately a keeper recipe. Thanks oh so much for this lovely recipe!
 
Merielle S. November 2, 2019
I now make these for Thanksgiving every year. My family is crazy about them. Definitely worth the work!
 
Alex M. June 2, 2019
These are the best rolls I have ever had. That is all.
 
bailboy February 12, 2019
These are unbelievable! I found the suggested proof times to be right on, but I had a brand new package of KA active dry yeast. These will be made many more times!.
 
Laura P. February 10, 2019
Absolutely delicious and a great flaky texture. Two comments: first, the total time should be four hours plus, not two; and second, dividing the dough into 12 makes quite large rolls - good for sandwiches but too large for dinner rolls. Next time, I’ll try making 18.
 
Lesley F. December 27, 2018
The rolls are flavorful, but the taste, lent by the molasses, is not too strong that it overpowers. My grateful family declared it one of my more successful bakes. I may try pairing them with a butternut squash soup.
 
Tampamanamy November 21, 2018
So why did the last article I read say this was a vegan recipe when it is clearly not?
Have some of you moms become so braindead you actually think just because there's no meat its vegan? Why did the last article I read have all these recipes for vegan Thanksgiving meals (that were all links to other recipes) when that's clearly misleading? Shows how much of the news is a complete lie.
 
N November 21, 2018
This is meant to be a supportive and positive community. Please refrain from offering insults to others. If it’s not something you eat, it’s easy to simply choose another recipe.
 
Rachel November 22, 2018
I had that thought too, so I went back and re-read the article about the vegan Thanksgiving menu. It says that you can make these rolls vegan by omitting the egg and substituting a vegan milk.
 
Author Comment
monkeymom November 22, 2018
What a bummer that food2 posted this in a vegan highlight! I am also terribly disappointed because these are NOT in any way vegan. They are full of butter so leaving out eggs will not help make it vegan.
 
Alexis December 22, 2019
The recipe isn't inherently vegan but easy to substitute. I can see how it would be frustrating for people not familiar with how to make vegan substitutes. I've made these by using a flax egg and Earth balance butter. Hope this helps.
 
Victoria November 10, 2018
Do you think these could be frozen?
 
Author Comment
monkeymom November 22, 2018
Yes! They can :)
 
Shawna L. February 21, 2018
These were divine! Beautiful colour and flavour from the molasses. A few notes - I thought they lacked salt but recognized my own error in using unsalted butter! Whoops. Used almond milk without a problem.
Most of my oats came flying off the top during final buttering, so not sure what I could have done to make them stick. Finally, I found myself craving honey as soon as they enemtered my mouth so I might incorporate next time...
Worth the time and effort - enjoy!
 
Anne February 12, 2018
Can you use gluten free baking flour, the one to one sort?
 
Kt4 January 6, 2019
I too would like to know if anyone has done this.
 
Laura415 November 19, 2019
I looked at the ingredients and method for this recipe. First off the recipe recommends using a higher protein flour like regular wheat flour or bread flour. As a gluten free cook I see that and know that any old gluten free flour mix may not work well. I would find or make a flour mix that has GF flours that are higher protein. This recipe is also an enriched dough with eggs, milk, butter and sugar, all of which make the dough tender and soft. I would try this recipe with higher protein GF flours and only just enough of the enriching ingredients. No matter whether you knead it or not it won't develop gluten so you are ok there. When allowing a GF bread to rise don't let it over rise and try to keep as much air in there as possible. Avoid using too much nut flour as it doesn't absorb and integrate into recipes as well as other GF flours.

Here is a link to a decent article on GF flours that may be helpful. https://tasty-yummies.com/a-guide-to-gluten-free-flours-and-starches/
Guide to protein in GF flours: https://www.healthination.com/food/high-protein-gluten-free-flours
 
Kt4 March 22, 2020
Thank you!!
 
Leslie June 20, 2017
Just made these for a big Iftar crowd, and they were a smash hit. Thank you so much for this! The recipe was so reliable, and I think my Egyptian friends had never tried a bread quite so American and cozy. Keep em coming!
 
Z January 27, 2017
Hello! Do you think I can add savoury ingredients to this recipe ( like cheese and olives)? I want to make a breakfast sort of bread. Thanks!
 
Christine January 27, 2017
The molasses in these rolls is fairly distinct and gives them a slightly sweet flavor, so I would be careful to make sure the whatever you add plays well with that flavor. You may want to try a Parker House roll or some other more neutral roll recipe.
 
Z January 27, 2017
Thank you so much Christine! I'll definitely try a more neutral roll 😊
 
Katherine C. November 26, 2016
Made these as directed for this Thanksgiving. With all the delicious offerings on our table this year, I think these simple rolls may have been my favorite thing. We're still working our way through leftovers and I've been trying to talk myself out of making another batch until we actually need them. I also can't wait to try this as a loaf!
 
Tony G. November 23, 2016
I have made these a few times and they are loved by all the family. I have also used the recipe in a bread maker and made a few 400g loaves - still really delicious sliced and toasted for breakfast