Cheese and Onion Crispy Soft Rolls

4th July 2013

cheese and onion crisps Golden Wonder

I used to be completely obsessed with cheese and onion crisps and I suspect I am not alone in this. So you are in for a rambling old post today with a recipe at the end if you keep reading. Golden Wonder were the brand of my childhood, now overtaken by Walkers I believe, who have coloured their cheese and onion packets blue which confuses me utterly, because in my mind cheese and onion will always be green.  The power of the brand is strong in my mental map.

I ate these every day on the 716 Green Line Bus that swooped down into Hammersmith Broadway on its cross-capital journey (from Welwyn Garden City to Chertsey and Hitchin)  and away to Kingston on Thames after a long school day.


Image credit:  courtesy of Alan Gryfe who has a wonderful collection of ‘E’ plate images on his website Eplates info.

Or that was the theory, in practice the bus turned up any time between 4.30 and 5.30, depending on the vagaries of the London traffic and crisps were a survival essential given that it could take hours to get home from school. The bus was a haven of comfort compared to the Red London buses, it stopped infrequently and sped importantly through London if the traffic allowed. The little rush of adrenalin when I saw its green front appear, and the corresponding dread if one saw it disappearing round the corner is indelibly associated with cheese and onion crisps.

I had a blogger’s déja vu feeling that I had told you about crisps before and the journey, and yes I have, more than once, ahem. In this Alphabet post about the letter C that I wrote nearly two years ago and they got another mention in this foodie post as well. I must like them, hey?

Other notable crispy onion moments of my life involve Danish open sandwiches. Flat dark rye grainy breads, with thinly sliced rare roast beef, a sweet and sour twist of pickled cucumber, a blob of mayonnaise and topped with sprinkles of onion crispies. And never forget the Danish hot dog roll, emblazoned with thin stripes of mustard and tomato sauce.

In short crispy onions are one of life’s small joys, pungent and anti-social maybe, but utterly delicious.

5cheese and onion rolls6cheese and onion rolls

I found this tub in a supermarket (Danfood, presumably is a brand name for Danish Food) and I can’t remember which one, but I have looked and they seem to be available on line too.  You can get them from Scandinavian food online sites as well, various brands.  I have fried a fair few onions in my life and they never go crispy like this. And they take hours and I think life is too short to fry onions to a crisp most days. So buy them and enjoy them if you see them. Yes, they are processed food, but if you look at the ingredients, nothing strange in there.

Korean Red Pepper CoarseI have adapted Emmanuel Hadjiandreou’s Cheese Bread recipe in ‘How to Make Bread’ and revisited Jeffrey Hamelman’s Cheese Bread recipe figuring out how to make these.  I have used yeast in mine as I wanted them to prove fairly quickly so I could offer them for lunch the same day I made them. You can either make them with all yeast or all sourdough or do what I did. If all yeast then add extra water and flour to your dough.

  • 100g active while sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 200g lukewarm water
  • 300g good quality bread flour
  • 5g instant active yeast, the sort you mix in direct with the flour
  • A tablespoon of olive oil (optional)
  • 120g of grated Cheddar or strong cheese, Provolone is good too
  • 30g of Crispy Onions
  • A good pinch of Korean Red Pepper, this is the coarse sort that will give you speckles in the dough ( I have this big tub of it left over from my kimchi experiment but an alternative would be a little chopped chilli)
  • A handful of medium fine chopped rocket (arugula)
  • 5g salt – this according to preference, you will need much less than usual as the onions have salt as does the cheese

You will also need

  • Baking Sheet, Baking Parchment, Dough cutter
  • Flour for shaping and dusting
  • A clean bin bag liner that can accomodate your baking sheet comfortably

I mixed the dough in a stand mixer but you can do it by hand of course if you prefer.  In a stand mixer it is preferable to put the wet ingredients in the mixer first, combine those and then add the dry ingredients.  Traditionally by hand you would put the dry mix in the bowl and then add the liquid into it.  Stand mixers tend not to pick up a layer of flour at the bottom of the bowl so that is why I do it this way round.

Ingredients for Cheese and Onion Rolls


Toss the onions, grated cheese, chopped rocket, salt, red pepper and yeast through the flour to start with in a separate bowl and make sure the onion bits are well distributed through the flour.

Put the sourdough starter and water and olive oil in the mixer and mix for a minute or so.

Tip the dry ingredients into the bowl and mix for about two minutes on the lowest speed.

Dough for cheese and onions rollsYou should have a sticky dough that doesn’t clear the bowl. If it looks as if it is going to clear the bowl then add another tablespoon or two of water. You want a sticky dough, not a runny one.

Take the whole lot out and put into a lightly oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise in a warm place until it has risen by at least a half. This took about two hours the other day. If you want a quicker rise, increase the quantity of yeast you use.

If you want to give the dough a fold half way through that is always a nice thing to do.

Soft dough for cheese and onion rolls

Tip it out onto an oiled worktop and pat it out into a flat rectangle with a touch of oil on your fingers.  Then fold it as if you are folding a piece of paper into three to put in an envelope. Turn the dough through 90 degrees and repeat the fold and you should end up with a nice mounded up piece of dough.

When your dough is nice and puffy, and you can feel little bubbles being busy if you press the top gently, (maybe another hour or so of proving)  grab a dough cutter and cut it into 9 or 10 even chunks. Mine weighed in at around 80 grams.   At this point swap away from using oil on your hands and worktop to flour.

Gently pat each chunk out a little and then pick the sides up and bring them to the centre spot, turning the dough around as you go to form a ball, like making a pouch almost. Then turn the ball over and make a cage from the heel of your hand and your fingertips and keeping your fingertips and heel in contact with the worktop, rotate your (dry floured) hand so that a nice even ball forms inside your hand. You will feel the doughball contract and mysteriously start to spin in the other direction from the one your hand is going in when it is done. If this sounds like gobbleydegook, I suggest looking up forming dough balls on You Tube and I am sure there will be several videos showing you what to do. Or of course, just do it the way you always do it. More than one way to roll a ball of dough!

Place the balls well apart on a dusted sheet of parchment on a baking tray, dust the tops with flour and leave to prove in a large bin bag. The bin bag acts as a quasi proving chamber, keeping the tops of the dough balls moist.

Leave to prove again in a warm spot till they are well risen, maybe 45 minutes or so.

Preheat the oven to 200 C. I use top bottom heat for nearly all my bread baking as I don’t get on with the fan setting as it tends to give me an uneven bake in my home oven. The equivalent fan setting would be I suppose 180 C but you know your oven best.

Place a small tray on the rack below the one you are going to bake on and fill it with boiling water as you put the rolls in the oven.

3cheese and onion rollsBake till lightly golden for about 20 – 22 minutes. They will be very soft when you take them out of the oven so you can’t really do a tap test on them. Leave them to cool on a rack if you can bear it. I have done two batches so far, the first batch were slightly bigger, I might have used more sourdough starter and I tried to print them with the rosetta roll press, but it didn’t work that well.

The second batch looked like this, I think I left them for an extra minute or two in the oven, so you can see they do vary a bit according to how long they get.

16cheese and onion rolls

We devoured two each filled with a healthy salad filling – we are a lettuce rich environment at the moment –

Crumb shot of cheese and crispy onion rolls

However you could always have something more calorific how about :  a cheese ‘n’ onion crisp cheese ‘n’ onion crispy roll maybe .. try saying that really fast.

By the way for American readers, crisps  in the UK are what you call chips, whereas chips in England are what you call fries – I believe there are finer distinctions in Australia and New Zealand too. So many names for a sliver of fried potato. – vive la difference!

30 thoughts on “Cheese and Onion Crispy Soft Rolls

  1. Misky

    Mmmmm. Yum. I can smell crispy fried onions as I write this.

    And aren’t you a clever girl? It never occurred to me to put the liquids in the mixer first! My goodness, this might change my entire view of using my standmixer in the future. Thanks!

    1. Joanna Post author

      These were really yummy and less interesting additives than in a regular packet of crisps of course :) And as to the second, dunno about that, but I swapped to liquids in first a long time ago with the mixer and the bread comes out fine.

      1. Misky

        I just made a “brick” of Peder’s rye bread (it’s baking as I type), and tossed the liquid in first. Brilliant! No floury stuff left in the bottom of the bowl! I can’t believe this never occurred to me – this is why you are my bread oracle. :D

  2. cityhippyfarmgirl

    Lovely sounding rolls Joanna. Chips are chips for us here in Australia, and chips…well they are chips as well :-) Hot chips or packet chips. I used to look after a little old lady in Mudeford, UK and she used to have a little bag of crisps every afternoon at 3pm.
    I might make these on the weekend, thanks lovely!

    1. Joanna Post author

      Yes I looked it up on Wiki, and found you said something different, acc here you call ’em potato chips…

      There is little consistency in the English-speaking world for names of fried potato slices. American and Canadian English use “chips” for the above mentioned dish—this term is also used (but not universally) in other parts of the world, due to the influence of American culture—and sometimes “crisps” for the same made from batter.
      In the United Kingdom and Ireland, crisps are potato chips, while chips are similar to french fries (as in “fish and chips”) and served hot. In Australia, some parts of South Africa, New Zealand, India, the general West Indies especially in Barbados, both forms of potato product are simply known as “chips”, as are the larger “home-style” potato crisps. In the north of New Zealand, they are known as “chippies” but are marketed as “chips” throughout the country. In Australia and New Zealand, sometimes the distinction is made between “hot chips” (fried potatoes) and “potato chips”. In Bangladesh, they are generally known as chip or chips, and much less frequently as crisps (pronounced “kirisp”) and locally, Álu Bhaja.’

      World is a big place and if we all keep talking we will figure out what each other means eventually don’t you think? and now it is time for lunch xxx

  3. drfugawe

    My dear, you are far too young to be dwelling on the memories of your youth – given time, they will one day overwhelm your waking mind. It is fun, though, isn’t it! Love the look of your dough.

    1. Joanna Post author

      I am looking back about 40 years here and feeling a bit ancient, but the bread is definitely here and now, in fact we had them for lunch, with Ottolenghi’s turkey and courgette (zuchinni) cold meat balls with sumac sauce from last night’s supper and that was very of the moment :) They were eaten too fast to photograph….

  4. Lynne

    Oh what a small world! I am thinking of trying crispy fried onions in Dan Lepard’s chestnut bread from the Handmade Loaf this weekend.. maybe I’ll add some cheese too… I shall report back

    1. Joanna Post author

      I am not a chestnut bread fan, find it sweet and a bit dry and a bit unexciting but I know lots of people love it so go for it, I would guess that the onions will overwhelm the chestnuts completely :)

  5. heidiannie

    These sound great- and I love your little wander into the past!
    I’m making a green olive focaccia and decided to add onion crisps after reading this. I’ll let you know how it turned out! Thanks for the ideas and the insight into London busses and crisps along the way.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Green Olive onion crispy foccacia definitely has a catchy sound to it :) I have to laugh at myself sometimes and the things that my brain throws up, crisps (potato chips) come up alarmingly often. Crunch, munch xx

      1. heidiannie

        The bread was so good! Thanks for the idea of adding fried onions- I have a chips craving, too. They go so well next to a sandwich or with a soda- a small bag is a perfect snack- potato chips (crisps) are addictive.

        1. Joanna Post author

          I am like people who can’t keep cookies in the house because they eat them all too quickly, so I don’t keep a lot of crisps here either ;) Cookies are fairly safe from me. I like them but I don’t go looking for them if that makes sense.

  6. narf77

    Steve used to love Golden Wonder crisps as well. Cheese is Steve’s favourite food. He would eat blocks of it if left alone to fend for himself. I don’t leave him alone all that often so we haven’t seen just how much cheese a single man can go through in a week ;). His second favourite food is crisps (closely followed by his third…chocolate). He is especially fond of cheese and onion crisps and laments that our crisps here are nothing like those of his youth. In saying that, we listened for years about how amazing the chip shops were in the U.K. We looked forward with eager anticipation to trying “real chips” when we headed there in 2005. We couldn’t find a single chip shop selling “real chips”. Steve’s youth appears to be glossing over reality ;). I guess the Danes and the Chinese know a thing or two about umami. Crispy onions and crispy shallots… YUM! I can’t get the onions here (but I can make them in Brunhilda by slicing onions finely, tossing them in olive oil and throwing them into the cooler oven for a few hours. One of the best things that Steve taught us was the old U.K. tradition of crisp sandwiches. YUM! I love cheese and onion crisps in thick homemade chunks of white bread. An entirely unhealthy treat but who cares. Delicious! Gorgeously promising bread and one that I am going to have to attempt to muddle through with Audrey. I need to practice if I am going to give my visiting friend some “real” sourdough bread when she gets here in a month. Audrey also needs feeding up at room temperature for a week or so to get her robust and active all over again…so much to do before I turn 50! Oh well, I guess I have age as an excuse after the date ;)

    1. Joanna Post author

      It is hard to get good old style chips these days, might be the oil they use, who knows. Steve seems to have covered all the essential food groups there and cheese and onion crisp sarnies in doorstops of white bread are a gourmet delight. Good luck with Audrey and get those onions crisped and sakted and you will be away. Also delicious stirred into herby couscous and rice and lentils, but I reckon you know that. Is the birthday imminent? Happy Birthday to you xx

      1. narf77

        The birthday is early August so about as imminent as they get…I have been practicing knitting because my daughters tell me I am officially “Old” at 50 ;). Now I have no excuses for not knitting, crocheting and baking do I? ;). I love Asian crispy shallots and might have to get some shallots now and make both crispy onions and shallots…YUM! I doubt they will make it to bread though, they are too gorgeous :)

        1. Joanna Post author

          I don’t knit or crochet, though I find myself looking at patchwork quilts admiringly from time to time. Once upon a time I did a little bit of tapestry work, when I was laid up after a accident, but haven’t done that for years. Enjoy your onions :)

          1. narf77

            I will. It’s freezing here (snow on the mountains) today so Brunhilda is working overtime. May as well use that free heat for something :).

  7. hotlyspiced

    We call crisps ‘chips’ and fries ‘hot chips’. Very simple. I was always starving after school and in those hours between school finishing and dinner I think I ate most of my daily intake of calories. And depending on the weather it was either chips or hot chips. Love the look of your rolls and yes, perfect filled with summer salad xx

    1. Joanna Post author

      I think as long as people know what you mean when you order them then it’s all fine. I too was always starving after school :)

  8. Ann

    Those rolls do look good. I have lived in Oz for 43 years but crisps will always be crisps to me!
    And Smiths is the brand I think of – it was probably the only sort you could get when I was a child! I remember the little blue twists of salt.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Thank you! I am quite enamoured of them, as we munched our way through a couple yesterday I thought they would be good travel buns as they wouldn’t dry out on a journey like a plain fat free roll would.

      Smiths was the original brand of crisps – more information than we could possibly want here,

      Cheese & Onion was launched in 1962 by Golden Wonder in the UK. Amazing what you can find on the internet xx

  9. sallybr

    Awesome post! what a great trip in memory lane to read it!

    great job on designing the recipe, the rolls look so cute, and the crumb is perfect!

    you are a pro!

  10. chocveg

    Hi Joanna, great post and rolls look great too! I am just back from a windy week in Orkney and in our family holiday picnic lunch is always rolls and crisps! I feel a back home picnic coming on with your lovely recipe! Hope you’re both well/not too hot! x

    1. Joanna Post author

      Hi A! Thank you! I hope you had a wonderful holiday. Hope there are lots of picnics to come with all this gorgeous weather. Yes we are too hot, but it is nice too as it has been so long since it has been, if that makes sense. xx Jo

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