Monday, August 13, 2012

Fragrant Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls

Would you believe that these rolls only made use of 1/8 teaspoon of yeast?  It's not at all the amount of yeast that the recipe called for but more the amount of yeast I only ended up using because of my absent-mindedness and utterly poor mis en place skills LOL.  I'm actually quite surprised that these rolls turned out the way they did--quite soft and delicious actually--as I was all ready to throw the dough into the trash bin or just bake them regardless of my error (and turn them into bread crumbs or paper weights) when I realized more than half-way through bulk fermentation that I had forgotten to add the yeast required in the final dough!  Luckily for me, the dough made use of a poolish, built the night before with a small amount of yeast, which acted like a starter that gave these rolls enough leavening power to turn them the way they did.  It took a loooong time for the rolls to almost double in size though but at least I still got decent bread! 

Fragrant Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls
(Adapted from the book Amy's Bread by Amy Scherber)

For the Poolish

142 g cool water (75 to 78 F)
142 g unbleached all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon instant yeast

284 g TOTAL

In a container, combine the all-purpose flour and instant yeast.  Add the water and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon or your hand for 1 minute, until a smooth, somewhat elastic batter has formed.  The poolish will be thick and stretchy.

Scrape down the sides of the container and cover with a plastic wrap.  Mark the height of the starter and the time on a piece of tape on the side of the container so you can see how much it rises.  Make sure it has room to triple in volume.

Let the poolish rise at room temperature (75 to 78 F) for 6 to 8 hours.  When it is ready, it will have tripled in volume, and lots of bubbles and small folds will appear on the surface.  The poolish should be used in the next 2 to 4 hours, before it begins to deflate.  

Note: Only 275 g out of the 284 g total poolish will be used for this recipe.

For the cooked wheat berries

1/8 cup wheat berries
enough water to cover the berries by at least an inch.

*The volume of the wheat berries should triple after cooking and cooling.  It's better to err making more than less (you can use the berries for your other breads or for topping salads, etc).

Cover the saucepan and place it on the stovetop over medium-high heat and bring the water to a boil.  Once boiling, lower the heat and allow the berries to simmer and cook for about 50 minutes.  The berries should be plump and tender.  Let the berries cool, then drain, saving the cooking liquid to use as part of the water called for in the recipe.  Refrigerate in an airtight container if you don't plan to use them immediately.  

Final Dough

1 teaspoon instant yeast
190 g whole wheat flour
128 g unbleached bread flour
85 g cooked wheat berries
42 g sesame seeds
35 g toasted wheat germ
12 g kosher salt
275 g poolish
220 g cool water (75 to 78 F)
28 g honey
10 g canola oil
40 g additional sesame seeds for topping


1. Whisk the whole wheat flour, bread flour, wheat berries, sesame seeds. wheat germ, and salt together in a medium bowl.  Set aside.

2.  In the bowl of your mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the poolish, cool water, honey, and oil and mix at low speed for about 1 minute, breaking up the poolish.  The mixture should look milky and slightly foamy.  Add the flour mixture while mixer is in low speed until it gathers into a shaggy mass.  Switch to the dough hook and knead for about 5 minutes until it becomes supple and elastic.  Adjust the hydration if necessary.

3.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and autolyse for 20 minutes to relax the dough and develop more elasticity.  

4.  Uncover the bowl and  re-attach dough hook then knead for a few more minutes until smooth and springy.  You should be able to form a transparent gluten window at this point.  If not, knead a few more minutes.  Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap and let rise for at room temperature (75 to 77 F) for 1 hour until it looks puffy but has not doubled.

5. After one hour turn the dough/do a series of folds.  Let rise again for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until it doubles in volume.  When the dough is fully proofed, an indentation made by poking your lightly floured finger deep into the dough should not spring back.

6. Pour the extra sesame seeds on a small tray and place a damp kitchen towel beside it.  Set aside.  Gently remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a lightly floured work surface.  Divide it into 12 equal pieces, weighing about 86 grams/3 ounces each, and shape them into rolls.  The dough will be sticky but try to use a minimum of flour on your hands and the table.  As the rolls are shaped, dip each top on the damp towel them immediately on the tray filled with sesame seeds then place them seam side down in an oiled 9-inch square pan, arranging them in three rows of four rolls each.  Cover with oiled plastic wrap and allow to proof for one hour, until they have almost doubled in size. (A finger pressed lightly into the dough will barely leave an indentation).

7.  About 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450 F.  Prepare the oven for steaming if desired.  I didn't used steam for this bake but I suppose if you prefer crispier crusts, you should.  If using a baking stone, place it in the oven now.

8.  When the rolls are ready, spray them lightly but thoroughly with water and place the pan on the baking stone.  

9.  After 15 minutes, rotate the pan if necessary to ensure even browning.  Tent with aluminum foil if the tops are getting brown too quickly.  Bake for another 15 minutes until the rolls are nicely browned.  An instant-read thermometer should register around 210 F.  Tip the rolls out of the pan and transfer them to a wire rack.  They can be served warm or at room temperature.  To ensure that they stay moist, don't separate the rolls until just before serving.

*Submitting this post to YeastSpotting*


  1. Wow, I cannot believe it, haha. They look great, so soft and fluffy. Now i wish I hadn't thrown away my bag of wheat berries. I bought them but never figured out what to do with them. Great job, Janis. Did the kids like them?

    1. Thanks Hanaa! The kids really liked them which was a great way to incorporate fiber into their diet. There are lots of thing you can do with wheat berries -- I made a bread before that made use of sprouted wheat berries which I sprouted myself and you can also pass them through the food mill to make cracked wheat for Rose's Cracked Wheat Bread :-)