The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

onion rolls

isand66's picture

I have not made rolls in a while, so I figured it was time to give it a go.  I was going to make some straight onion rolls from the recipe in Inside the Jewish Bakery by Stanley Ginsberg and Norman Berg, but I decided to try something a little different.  I used the onion topping recipe from the book and created a nice soft dough using some smooth style ricotta, whole eggs and a combination of durum flour and bread flour.  To make it interesting I used my usual amount of white starter at 65% hydration to create a beautiful smooth and silky dough that smelled good enough to eat by itself before baking.

These rolls are great with or without the onion topping, and are nice and light and airy with a slight sourdough flavor.



15 oz. Refreshed Starter (65% Hydration)

4 Large Eggs lightly beaten, (8 oz. total liquid)

5 oz. Smooth Style Ricotta (you can use regular style or fresh if you can make it)

6 oz. Water (90 degrees F.)

11 oz. Durum Flour (King Arthur Flour or similar)

9 oz. Bread Flour (King Arthur Flour or similar)

2.5 Tsp. Salt, .63 oz. (Sea salt or table salt)

Onion Topping

1/2 cup, 1.5 oz. Dehydrated chopped onions

1 1/2 cups,12 oz., Boiling water

1 Tbs., .5 oz. Vegetable oil

1 1/2 tsp., .3 oz., Black poppy seeds

1/4 tsp., .1 oz., Table salt or sea salt


Cut the starter into about 8 pieces and mix the eggs and water with the starter to break it up.  Next add the rest of the ingredients and mix either using your stand mixer on low-speed for 2 minutes.  Let the dough rest for 5 minutes and then mix on medium speed for 4 minutes.  If necessary add some additional liquid or flour until the dough comes together in a nice silky and smooth ball.

Take the dough out of the bowl and place on your work surface.  Knead it by hand for 1 minute and form it into a ball.  Let it rest for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes do a stretch and fold from all sides and form it into a ball again.  Let it rest another 10 minutes and then do 1 additional stretch and fold and immediately put it in a lightly oiled bowl.  Cover the bowl and let it rest at room temperature around 70 degrees F. for 2 hours.  After 2 hours put it in your refrigerator for 1-3 days.

Either the day before or while the dough is resting, prepare the onion filling.  Pour the boiling water into a bowl with the dehydrated onions and let sit for around 30 minutes.  Drain through a strainer and spread out on a paper towel to absorb as much moisture as possible.  Mix the onions with the remaining ingredients and either refrigerate in a sealed container or bag or use when cool.

When you are ready to make your rolls take the dough out of the refrigerator and keep it in its bowl at room temperature for 2 hours.  After 2 hours the dough should be ready to shape.  Using a piece of parchment paper or cookie sheet place about 1/2 of the prepared onion mixture on your surface of choice.  Cut the dough into 3 oz. pieces and form round rolls making sure each roll is nice and tight.  Press the top of each roll into the onion mixture and place a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Cover the rolls with a clean lint free towel sprayed with water or a piece of plastic wrap lightly sprayed with cooking spray.  Let the rolls rest at room temperature for 2 hours.

Around 30 minutes before baking the rolls, prepare your oven and pre-heat at 425 degrees.  I used my usual set-up for steam and added 1 cup of boiling water to a pan on the bottom shelf but for rolls you could omit this step and you will get softer rolls if that is what you desire.

It should take around 20-25 minutes to bake the rolls and they should be nice and brown on the bottom and top.  When done, let them cool on a wire rack and enjoy.This post has been submitted to Yeast Spotting at

As you can see the crumb is nice and open and airy.

dmsnyder's picture

On Decembeer 31, 2008 ...

Norm's Onion Rolls

Norm's Onion Rolls (and a lone kaiser roll)

and ...

Apple Crunch

Apple Crunch, from the Summer Shack Cookbook

And, on January 1, 2009, I baked ...

San Francisco Sourdough from Reinhart's "Crust&Crumb"

San Francisco Sourdough from Reinhart's "Crust & Crumb"

The sourdough was delicious with lentil soup and a salad.


Floydm's picture

Norm's Onion Rolls

October 13, 2008 - 7:38pm -- Floydm

Norm, AKA nbicomputers, is a retired professional baker from New York City. He has been sharing his recipes and his baking wisdom with us for close to a year now.

Norm's NY Style Onion Rolls have become a favorite on The Fresh Loaf. Below are the list of posts I could find that contains pictures, tips, and comments about this recipe.

Floydm's picture

I too have baked a batch of Norm's Onion Rolls. They are wonderful.

I added 1 tablespoon of poppy seeds to the dough as well as an extra quarter cup or so of rehydrated dried onions. Otherwise, I followed his recipe.

I may have gotten a little too carried away with the poppy seeds and onions, but they were awfully tasty.

dmsnyder's picture

Norm's Onion Rolls

Norm's Onion Rolls

  These Kaiser Rolls (AKA hard rolls, vienna rolls, bulkies) were made with the same dough used for onion rolls.

Norm's Kaiser Rolls: These Kaiser Rolls (AKA hard rolls, vienna rolls, bulkies) were made with the same dough used for onion rolls.

I didn't grow up in New York. We did have a Jewish Bakery in Fresno when I was younger. They got me addicted to Sour Rye and Jewish Corn Rye and pumpernickel and cheese pockets. They made onion rolls, too, but I never liked them much. They were fluffy with a boring crust and no "tam."

 The carryings on about how wonderful onion rolls used to be by folks on TFL who hail from NYC and environs made me think maybe I'd missed something, so when Norm posted his formula, I thought I should try making them. I got distracted by other baking projects, but the recent postings about these rolls re-activated my intention to make them. Thanks to Eric, Elgins, RFMonaco and Eli. I am delighted to join you!

These onion rolls are, as Norm said, "only onion rolls." Yeah. Like a stradivarius is "only a fiddle." 

 Kaiser rolls are made from the same dough as onion rolls. What is most different is the elaborate shaping. Ever since I read Greenstein's description of the old-time bakers sitting around the bench "klopping" hundreds of vienna rolls every night for the breakfast rush, I've wanted to try doing this. Well, the rolls are delicious, with a substantial crust and  sweet, chewy crumb. We had them tonight with "hamburgers" made with ground chicken. These are not your fast food joint's soggy, tasteless buns. What they really need is a pile of thin sliced juicy roast beef, or roasted brisket, better yet, or maybe chopped liver. 

My klopping needs some work. They will be prettier next time, but I can't really imagine them tasting better.

The hamburger was good. But the best part of dinner was dessert - An onion roll sliced in half with sweet butter.

Thanks, Norm! 

 FYI, all the rolls were scaled to 2.55 oz. I think this was just right for the onion rolls. Next time I make Kaiser Rolls, I think I will scale them to 3 oz.


Susan's picture

Thanks, Norm, for this recipe. Boy, are these good! This is the first recipe in a long time that tempted me to stray from straight sourdough!

I think I should have used convection for the last half of baking. And I should probably smush them down more and give them a bit more room on the sides next time.

You can see that I started out with 15 two-ounce rolls and now have only eight left, and they just came out of the oven! Mmmmmmm.

Susan from San Diego

Half-baked Onion RollsHalf-baked Onion Rolls

Norm's Onion RollsNorm's Onion Rolls

Here's the link to Norm's recipe:




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