Basic White Rolls

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes


Appears in

Cooking at the Merchant House

By Shaun Hill

Published 2000

  • About

If you are a novice, you will find these rolls are good practice for handling the basic ingredients of bread and, of course, will give fine results provided you have bought decent flour. There are plenty of ways to vary this dough too, and we use it to make pizza canapés.


  • 50g (2oz/½ stick) butter
  • 175ml (6fl oz/¾ cup) milk
  • 25g (1 oz) fresh yeast (1× 1 oz cake)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 level teaspoon salt
  • 600g (1 lb 5oz) strong white flour (4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour)


Melt the butter. Add the milk and 125ml (4fl oz/½ cup) of water, then heat until the mixture is just lukewarm. Mix in the yeast, then the sugar and salt.

Add almost all the flour (leave a spoonful for dusting the dough as you knead it) and work the mixture into a ball. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and leave until it doubles in bulk, which will probably take a couple of hours.

Knock back the dough by kneading it a few times, then divide into 10 equal pieces. Shape them into balls or cigars and place on a lightly oiled baking tray to prove – this will take only half an hour in a warm kitchen.

Heat the oven to 220°C (425°F/Gas 7) and bake the rolls for 15 minutes. Test for doneness by tapping the base of one of the rolls – it should sound and feel hollow. It will be soggy if underdone and dry if overdone. Leave to cool on a wire rack.


Herbs or grated cheese can be added to the dough. Seeds such as poppy or sesame can be sprinkled on top of the rolls just before they are baked, or rye flour can be sifted onto them at the same stage.

This dough makes fine pizza. Roll it out into a couple of large circles and top with Italianate ingredients. Try to leave the rims slightly thicker than the centres so that the topping stays in place. Leave to prove, then bake.

Dried yeast (granules) can be substituted for fresh yeast in this recipe. It has twice the strength of fresh yeast. The packet should give proper instructions, but be sure the granules are not stale otherwise the results will be disappointing.