Make Ahead

Brown Butter-Glazed Holiday Rolls

December 14, 2010
4 Ratings
  • Makes 30 small rich, buttery rolls - 4 x 2 inches
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!

Test Kitchen Notes

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

What You'll Need
  • 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 5.
  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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • lapadia
  • TheWimpyVegetarian
  • gingerroot
  • cowgirlculture
  • Kayb

13 Reviews

limoncello December 31, 2010
I made these for Christmas Eve (large family gathering) and Christmas day (small family gathering) dinners, and enough for my parents' freezer in my absence. They were a hit all around! Thanks!
lapadia December 31, 2010
Thanks, limoncello :), it is great to know they were a hit with your family! Happy New Year!!
lapadia December 30, 2010
Thanks for the testing this recipe, SallyCan, I am thrilled they were a hit! BTW - Good questions and I have edited my instructions because of them. In answer; Re: baking powder – I use malt powder in all my yeast baking (promotes a strong rise), I ran out, so in its place the baking powder can contribute to the rise in both phases of the dough’s activation. Re: powdered milk – I always use the dry powdered (in place of regular milk) and incorporate it as part of my liquid ingredients. Re: brown butter melted = 2 fluid ounces, if melted anyway, however, I always take a day to brown my butter, so it is usually solidified at that point. :-)
TheWimpyVegetarian December 19, 2010
These look fabulous! I love the flavor browned butter gives various dishes and hadn't thought to use it for bread. I'm making these rolls for sure!! Happy Holidays, Linda!
lapadia December 20, 2010
Thanks, ChezSuzanne! I hope they are a hit with you and your family...Happy Holiays to all!
limoncello December 16, 2010
I'm going to try YOUR recipe; rolls are my job for the big family holiday dinners, and I need to get cracking! (I'm drooling; great photo!)
lapadia December 16, 2010
Thanks, limoncello...this sounds great! Oh, and I know what you mean about "getting cracking", the time is going by so fast! Cheers!
gingerroot December 15, 2010
All I can say is "YUM" and "yes, please!" These look and sound amazing, lapadia! While I have a weakness for bread I am a newbie baker so I cannot wait to try these. Thanks for your recipe.
lapadia December 15, 2010
Thanks, gingerroot! This dough is very easy to work with...have fun making them!
cowgirlculture December 14, 2010
These look great! Beautiful!
lapadia December 14, 2010
Thanks, cowgirlculture! I like your recipe (and China) too!
lapadia December 14, 2010
Thanks, Kayb! Yes, very rich, and deserving of a special occasion...this is why I like to have a smaller size roll, there are so many other "rich" goodies to eat during this time of year!
Kayb December 14, 2010
Wow....loving all the brown butter in/on these! I bet they're rich -- certainly special-occasion rolls!