Soft butter rolls and (rye sourdough with walnuts)

Egg glazed high baked rolls

Here we go with two of the September breads for Mellow Bakers, who are baking their way through Bread by Jeffrey Hamelman in an easy going and take our time sort of way.  Join in, bake a couple of breads with us, bake loads, it’s all good fun!

I baked these rolls a little hot, hence the colour, and they were very petite in scale. The dough took forever to prove, no idea why and I wasn’t very optimistic, but I managed to make them. Didn’t read the bit about putting them close together, if I had done that they would have risen like batch rolls and then the sides would have been soft.

I only made a half batch which was plenty for us and we had them for lunch with some good Ardennes paté. You can taste the egg and the butter in them, a little like a poor cousin of a brioche, perfectly nice as a side roll goes. I would say make sure you use good quality butter if you make these as it will show if you don’t.

Good with some chunky paté

They reminded me of meals in old fashioned restaurants with my grandparents, with stiff white linen tablecloths and dusty wineglasses; the waiters would ceremoniously bring you a teeny tiny roll, which you would try to eat slowly, and always ate really fast because you got bored waiting for the food to show up…. Some of the other Mellows said they weren’t too keen, we thought they were fine, they are what they are that’s all.


I could lie a bit at this point and post a picture of the rye sourdough with walnuts, but the fact is you can’t smell pictures. The rye sourdough with walnuts was not a success. I thought I would be adventurous and added some walnut oil to the dough. Unfortunately I didn’t smell the oil before I tipped it in and it had gone stale and the smell of the bread when I had baked and cut it was so bad I had to throw it away. (weeps bitter tears….) There is a moral in that somewhere…. I might make it again one day but not just yet.

To see what the bread should have looked like have a peek here at Natashya‘s lovely take on this or Andrea‘s light and open loaf  and maybe visit Mellow Bakers here to see what the others come up with this month.

But to cheer you up after that sad news here is a picture of Zeb instead!

Please suggest a caption for me!

26 thoughts on “Soft butter rolls and (rye sourdough with walnuts)

  1. sallybr

    Oh, that’s disappointing about the walnut oil… You know, once I was going to use pine nuts in a recipe, and luckily I took a bite of one before adding- talk about a nasty taste! Amazing how those oils turn from heaven to pure hell with oxidation…

    Zeb looks very distinguished – he seems to say: Mom, I can sniff the walnut oil for you next time!

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      The irony is that I sniffed and tasted the walnuts, Sally! And then I had a memory of making Dan Lepard’s cosmic walnut bread and thought to myself ‘layer the flavours’ I know a splosh of walnut oil, and hey bingo, bad bread ! Good caption I like it :)

  2. Paul

    My, what a handsome fellow, that Zeb.

    I’m making the rolls as I type (in bulk proofing mode at the moment). Hope they turn out OK, I’m making the full batch even though I’m a bachelor this week, I’m planning on dumping some off at neighbours. I guess I’ll see how they turn out, they may become dog snacks instead.

    BTW, did you use the corrected yeast quantity? The one in the book is wrong…
    My book (5th printing) say .09 oz but it should be .3 oz (= 2 teaspoons or 8 grams). If you went with .09, you’d likely see a very slow proof.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      I think I probably used too little yeast and the butter and the egg always slows a proof down as well doesn’t it? I think I used about 1/2 a tsp of yeast for a half quantity of recipe, but they did rise fine in the end. I tend to treat all timings in recipes as a guide rather than an absolute, local conditions vary so much, and my dough temperature is rarely 76 C, more like 71-72 C, so usually my proves take a bit longer. I know there are those water temperature calculations you should do but I am lazy :) Good luck with the rolls Paul!

  3. planejaner

    Zeb is oh so regal, and the rolls look lovely!
    Now I am off to eat lunch, and will raise a crust out over the pond.

  4. Choclette

    Zeb is lovely but I’m still sad about your rye bread. My mother once invited us over for dinner and did a steamed treacle pudding as a special treat – it was inedible. We traced the source to a very well out of date packet of vegetarian suet. My heart still bleeds over that one. Doesn’t sound as if you are too impressed with your rolls either

  5. cityhippyfarmgirl

    Crikey, steamed treacle pudding I haven’t had that one for a life time.
    Too bad about the walnut oil Joanna. Its always so disappointing when you start out all enthusiastic and some tiny thing makes it all go pear shaped…and I hate wasting food!

    Zeb looks like he is thinking…”Fox! Fox I’m sure I just smelt a fox. If I’m very still, I might be able to see it…ok, take my picture- it is my best side…now where that fox?”
    Monkey Boys favourite dog at the moment is poodle, he likes that you can give them haircuts :-)

  6. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

    How spooky, just watched a River Cottage episode and HFW was making a very lovely steamed pudding with a sauce made from lemon zest, lemon juice, brown sugar and some chopped stem ginger, which he put in the bottom of the pudding basin and topped with a sponge mixture made with 175 g each of butter, sugar and selfraising flour, couple of beaten eggs then he did that clever crease in the grease proof paper thing, that Brian can do and I always mess up, tied it up with string, stood it on an upturned saucer in his big casserole dish, surrounded it with boiling water and steamed for 3 hours. Hugh always looks so happy when he is eating, apparently alone in his kitchen. And he was out picking mushrooms too and making a very nice shin of beef stew… lots of ideas there…

    Monkey Boy has superb taste in dogs :) When Zeb smells fox, he becomes John Peel’s hound though…

  7. Abby

    So glad you enjoyed the rolls . . . I was sad not to like them. But definitely retry the walnut rye . . . so yummy!!

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      I will retry the rye.. have to buy some more walnuts first Abby! (Can’t remember if you have the HandMade Loaf by Dan Lepard, there is a great walnut bread in there that it has to live up to ! It was written out in full here on the Fresh Loaf

      – I have made this one four or five times, it’s perfect every time)

  8. heidiannie

    I love that you could have lied, but chose to reveal your failed bread.
    My older sister once made a bad batch of bread and decided to feed them to the dog.
    He wouldn’t eat them so she buried them in a boggy patch of ground near the creek.
    THEN the dog dug them up and carried them back into the yard.
    My older brothers discovered them and had great fun at her expense.
    I was a very little girl then, but I remember thinking that burying your mistakes didn’t seem to be a very good solution.
    Your soft butter rolls are a beautiful brown.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Heehee – I LOVE that story about the dog Heidi! Do you have pictures of your creek? I would love to see them one day. I always find it hard to imagine what the word creek signfiies in America, is it a stream, a river? I imagine it is very windy and full of rocks that the water rushes around, but maybe that’s based on something I read years ago…

      Re truth and lies and blogs : I had various options, not to mention the bread was probably the easiest, but I believe I learn from my mistakes, not from my successes. Karl Popper, Thomas S Kuhn and all those theories about how knowledge progresses, so fairly pointless to massage the truth. If I lied on my blog that would be ever so slightly ridiculous and given that I am trying to make all the breads in the book, I need to keep a record of what happened. If I write the lesson learnt down, then hopefully I will remember it, it gets reinforced that way – plus you get loads of sympathy ;)

      1. heidiannie

        I don’t have any pictures of my childhood creek. I didn’t become interested in photography until a couple of years ago. However, I live close to Yellow Creek in Bath, Ohio and I’ll get a couple of shots of that. My children grew up playing in Yellow Creek, fishing, boating, looking for crawdads and watching beavers build dams. They also found a source for a beautiful blue-grey clay that they made small bowls and dishes and airdried them for fairies to use.
        Your description of American creeks is very apt. Windy and rocky, the depth changes wildly with pools and eddies, rapids and drop offs- the general color is muddy or yellow- they are great places for children to muck about.

        1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

          Ooh I’ll look forward to seeing those one day Heidi! I think children and water are a perfect match. Both sides of my family are obsessed with watery places, rivers, streams, the sea. I have a great love for ponds in public parks myself :)

  9. GillthePainter

    Zeb’s pnndering that old question…

    “… although she only stands on 2 legs and obviously can’t smell walnut oil as well as I can,
    “Does Joanna look in the mirror and think she’s canine?”

    (OK, I’ll have to explain that ……….. you know when some dogs think and act like they are human? ……..)

    Lovely mini dinner breads. I like them on the well fired side, me.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Gill, I think he wonders why I don’t understand his obviously stated requests sometimes and gets a little frustrated when I am slow on the uptake, he has definitely noticed that he is short and I am tall, he climbs on various sofas and things in order to get on eyelevel me when he really wants to get my attention, positions himself between me and the tv screen and so on, he has learnt that eye contact is the way to get what you want, smart chap that he is :)

  10. GillthePainter

    he is a smart chap indeed!

    It took me 30 years to realize that eye contact would get me what I want.
    Staring at Tony over a crowded room, until he noticed and walked over. It took about an hour.

  11. Jan

    Zebedee – ‘hmmm – tossing the loaf, curiouser and curiouser’. How I envy your Autumn wind outside the door. Here summer is seeping, nay, blasting under the door. I loved the pictures of the Dough Do – what a wonderful room and what a wonderful way to spend time together. Must off to work now – it’s such an interuption to life!

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      We had summer on Sunday, gone on Monday and today, rumoured to be making a brief re-appearance in the week but I think it’s sandals away any day now… The Dough Do was great fun, not too serious :) You’re right, Jan, the dogs never understand it when something that looks edible goes in the bin, fortunately it is a rare event.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      That braid you made is awesome Celia ! I haven’t mastered the art of rolling even strands yet – the bit where bread meets crafting is where I fall into the flour bin with a whoosh :)

      Yours is so beautiful, I wouldn’t want to eat it just look at it and pat it from time to time…

  12. In a Welsh Garden

    These look AMAZING – I could almost taste them from reading your description. Now I want to make them ! As I actually managed a half decent blueberry muffin using your fabulous recipe, I am ALMOST feeling like I could give these rolls a try. Hmm, I will have to muster the courage. You are so clever – I am in awe of all of you natural cooks out there (I take it you gathered that I am not one) : )

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Thanks for the compliment my magic gardening friend :) I am sure your muffins were really great, any left? I bet there weren’t…..

      I reckon one could chop up some of those pears that are lying in your garden and cook them a bit first and then put them in muffins too – maybe with a little ginger in some form, or with some ground almonds for part of the flour.

      If you fancy making rolls there is a great bap recipe here that works well and children and grownups really like. What’s clever about this recipe and a lot of Dan Lepard’s recipes, is that you don’t have to spend forever kneading dough. You mix it, leave it, give it a little mini knead, leave it again and repeat and the dough does its thing all by itself practically. If you put a little oil on your hands when you handle the dough it suddenly starts behaving itself without trying to engulf you too. That was the best tip I ever learnt I think. Some cooks never use oil, and wrestle for hours with sticky dough, beating it into submission, every way OK I guess but I like things to be easy rather than difficult. Only thing is, if you like the bread you make, then you will have a problem, because you won’t want to buy it in the shops anymore…. it’s like painting yourself into a corner :)

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