The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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davesmall's picture

Baking, Freezing, Resuscitating Crusty French Bread Rolls

French Hard Rolls


We vacationed in France this year and had the pleasure of dining at several upscale Michelin starred restaurants. I noticed a trend toward offering small crusty rolls rather than sliced bread(s). in some cases the rolls were warm as if fresh from the oven. There were always crusty fresh rolls with chewy crumb. There would also be two or three alternate choices, usually a dark bread, and a walnut or olive bread.

I thought I could replicate those rolls but wondered if I could find a way to store them and reheat them? Could I serve rolls like this straight out of the freezer with a workday dinner having no time to bake?

After experimenting, I have had some success. The results aren't quite as good as fresh baked just out of the oven. However, the results have been better than just satisfactory and better than I expected.

For the basic French hard roll I make a no-knead refrigerated dough with 75% hydration (32 oz General Mills Harvest King, 24 oz water by weight, 2 tablespoons coarse French grey sea salt, and just 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast for a slow rise. I mix the dough ingredients without kneading, and let the dough rise for several hours. It can then be refrigerated until ready to bake several days later. It's OK in the refrigerator for about two weeks.

To make the rolls, I measured out 2.5 ounce portions of the dough. This makes a nice size dinner roll that's also big enough for a small sandwich a little larger than a typical slider. I folded each portion 5 or 6 times with a letter fold and then formed a ball by pinching the dough underneath. I rolled each ball in my flour coated hands and placed six rolls onto a cookie sheet with a Silpat silicone mat. Proofing took several hours in my kitchen. The rolls were slashed and then baked for about twenty minutes at 450 F. I used a spray bottle with water to create some steam during the first few minutes of the bake. The rolls were placed on a wire rack to cool.

After several hours, the rolls we hadn't consumed that day went into a zip lock plastic bag and then into the freezer. It's important not to put them in the freezer too soon because warm rolls will give off moisture and form ice crystals in the bag.

When ready to thaw and serve the rolls, I put several of them in the microwave oven and microwave on high for about a minute until fully thawed. At this point they'll feel like fresh bread but the crust won't be crisp. Then I put them into a toaster oven and toast for about 3 minutes. This brings back the crispy crust. Then they're ready to serve as warm rolls. They have a crisp crust, chewy crumb with holes, and good flavor.

If I'm going to serve as small sandwiches, I would use a bread knife to slice the rolls after the micowave step and before the toaster step. Then toast each half roll.

It's a way to have a selection of small dinner rolls on a whim when you don't have time to bake.

SallyBR's picture

Sourdough Focaccia

Made this the week before Christmas, pushing the envelope a little and making an unusual topping - chili jam...   Turned out excellent, so I share the recipe with you

(adapted from Chilli and Chocolate)

for the sourdough sponge:
195 g liquid starter (3/4 cup at about 100% hydration)
125 g warm water (1/2 cup)
25 g olive oil (2 T)
10 g honey (1 + 1/2 tsp)
50 g flour (1/2 cup)

for the final dough:
all the sponge made as described
50 g olive oil (1/4 cup)
200 g all purpose flour (2 cups)
1 tsp sea salt

to bake the focaccia:
4 T olive oil
herbs of your choice, minced
2 T chili jam, preferably homemade
coarse or flake salt

Mix all the ingredients for the sponge in a medium size bowl, cover and let it ferment at room temperature for 1-2 hours, until the surface is covered with small bubbles.

Add the ingredients for the final dough and mix until they form a shaggy mass. Let it rest for 15 minutes, then knead quickly folding the dough on itself 10 times (no need to remove from the bowl). Let the dough rest 15 minutes, and repeat this quick kneading process. Repeat for a total of 4 cycles of kneading, each with 15 minutes rest. Shape the dough into a smooth ball, place in a lightly oiled bowl, and let it rise until almost doubled (1.5 to 2 hours).


Alternatively, place it in the fridge overnight, transferring to room temperature
2 hours before baking.

Cover a 9 x 13 baking sheet with parchment paper, and add 2 T olive oil to the paper, spreading it well. Put the dough in the pan and press gently until it covers the whole surface. If the dough is resisting your attempts to stretch it, wait for 5 minutes until the gluten relaxes, and do it again. Cover lightly and let it rise for 30 minutes, while you heat the oven to 450F.

Using the tip of your fingers, make indentations all over the dough, spread the remaining 2 T of olive oil all over, sprinkle herbs of your choice on half the focaccia. If your chili jam is too thick, thin it slightly with a little olive oil, and spread on the other half of the focaccia. Add salt all over the dough, and bake until golden brown on top, about 25 minutes. If the jam seems to be burning,
reduce the temperature slightly.

Let it cool over a rack before you slice it in squares, and...


For those interested in mor details, you can click here for my blog post


JoeVa's picture


Ecco il mio primo tentativo con una nuova formula per un micone di grano integrale. Su suggerimento del mugnaio Marino ho miscelato la Macina Integrale con la Buratto. La formula complessiva impiega 50% Macina + 38% Buratto + 12% Manitoba, quest'ultima usata per la costruzione del lievito naturale liquido. Le caratteristiche di assorbimento della farina integrale hanno portato ad un'idratazione finale del 78% circa, consistenza impasto medio/morbito+.

Here my first attempt to a new formula for a whole wheat miche. As suggested by the miller Marino I mixed the (very) whole wheat (Macina) with type 1 flour (Buratto). The overall formula uses 50% Macina + 38% Buratto + 12% bread flour, the last one used to build the liquid levain. The absorption characteristics of the whole wheat flour led to about 78% final hydration, medium/soft+ consistency.


Il risultato è buono, un'integrale di tutto rispetto. La pagnotta ha leggerezza tra le mani e pienezza nel gusto. La prossima volta proverò a migliorare la formula introducendo una piccola percentuale di segale integrale.

The result is good, a respectable whole miche. The loaf has lightness in the hand and wholeness in the taste. Next time I'll try to improve the formula with the addition of a small percentage of whole rye.


Ed ecco la mollica. Questa metà l'ho regalata a Stefano, un nuovo amico panificatore.

Here the crumb. I got this half loaf to Stefano, a new home baker friend.


louie brown's picture
louie brown

Silverton's Olive Bread

I've been making this bread since the book was published. It's a straight sourdough, made with a 100% starter at about 65% hydration, with a pretty thorough mechanical mix, a four hour bulk fermentation at about 78 degrees, and proofed overnight in the fridge. This results in a loaf with a fairly even, but discernible, crumb, which I like because it holds the olives in place. I use twice as many olives as called for, and I still don't think that's enough. I use Kalamata, oil cured and large Sicilian green olives. The oil cured olives stain the crumb around themselves purple. There is also some wheat germ. 

These were combo cooked (550 degrees for 15 minutes, then about 25 minutes uncovered at 460 convection) with some interesting results. First, I seem to get most of my spring after uncovering, unlike, for example, baking under a stainless bowl, or baking with the towel setup. Still, the spring was considerable. Second, the crust is quite thin and crispy, which is not a bad thing, but it is worth knowing to expect this result. 

The scoring, my own contribution, is meant to evoke olive leaves.

This bread has a moist crumb because of the olives. I was in a rush to see the interior and taste it, so the crumb is a little raggy on the first slices. The 2 pound loaves are almost exactly 4 inches high.

fminparis's picture

Why no-knead bread?

I really don't understand the tremendous interest in no-knead bread, as if kneading was such a terrible process to go through.  Using a food processor or stand mixer, total kneading time is from 1-5 minutes with the machine doing the work (food processor - 1 minute, mixer - 5 minutes).  With no-knead you have to decide the night before whether you'll want bread for dinner the next day.  I use my Cuisinart and can walk into the kitchen at 2:00 PM and take the bread out of the oven at 6:00 PM. Of that time there are two windows, 1 hour and 1 1/2 hours when I can do other things while the bread rises.

I find the results identical, use the same hydration. I do use more yeast, about 2 tsp.

K.C.'s picture

Whole Spelt for cold weather starter - works every time

It's been raining for days in Southern California and that means my place is cold and damp. The kitchen cools to 58F at night and hits 65F during the day. The best solution is to bake every day. The gas oven is cheap to run and doubly efficient when it's taking the chill off and baking.

After a few chocolate cakes and several loaves of banana bread I decided it was time for a new starter and sourdough. I hadn't kept a starter for a couple of months but that's because I know I can get one up to speed in a week. In my 25+ years of baking I've never found a better cold weather starter flour than whole grain spelt.

I used orange juice, squeezed right from the orange, for the first 4 days and then switched to water. 1 tablespoon of whole grain spelt flour at 100% hydration on day 1, adding the same for each of the next 3 days. I had a viable starter in 7 days. I then split it out to 4 containers and added whole wheat to one, whole white wheat to one, all purpose to one and fed momma spelt before putting her in the fridge.

Here are my new friends. Momma spelt at the top, now 10 days old, about an hour after doubling and peaking, and her siblings below.

hortstu's picture

Why do we discard part of the starter?

Is it just to make room in the container?  Is it so we don't need to add back as much flour?  If I wanted to share my starter with others could I just divide it in two add back to each and then have 2 starters?

txfarmer's picture

Sourdough Panettone - sleep? who needs sleep?

Last year I spent nearly 90 hours to make sourdough pandoro. Twice (one failed attempt, one delicious success). And thought it was worthwhile. I must be crazy.

This year, I spent 90 hours to make sourdough panettone. Twice (one test run, one massive batch for gifts). Still think it's fun. They are coming to take me away anytime now.


Recipe is based on foolishpoolish's wonderful creation (here), with techniques from "AB&P", Wild Yeast, etc. Two days to re-activate my starter, one more day to convert to "Italian sweet starter", 12 hours for rising first dough, 19 hours for rising final dough. Up at midnight, then 2am, to check on the dough, finally at 3:30 to start baking. Like I said, who needs sleep when it's holiday season?!

Some notes:

- For some reason, no one, not even one source on this whole wide web, can tell me how much dough I should put in my paper mold. Most recipes would tell me how much dough to use, but not the mold size. Some tell me the diameter of the mold, but not the height. My molds are from here,  6.75inch in diameter, 4.25inch in height, and is supposed to be for "standard size, 2lb loaf". I know 2lb is 900g roughly, but that's after baking, how much dough would that be? Finally I found answer in "AB&P", for their 5.25X3.25inch mold, they use 500g of dough, which means I need 1080g for mine. Too bad I found that AFTER my first batch, so my test loaf (950g of dough) came out a bit short, but for my real batch, I used 1050g of dough and they came out perfect (as shown in the pictures above).

- Since my husband really loved the sourdough pandoro last year, he made me a "proofing box" using insulated foam boards, a pet temperature regulator, and a light bulb. Really helpful for keeping Italian starter and proofing the loaves! EXCEPT, when the regulateor's setting was messed up and it stayed at 70F , rather than the 85F I set. Ugh, messed up my whole timing.

- All sources say to simply mix the first dough until even - no mention of developing any dough strength. However, I do find if I mix first dough with KA mixer, paddle attachement, until it clears the bowl, the final dough would be MUCH easier to mix. However since the first dough is very wet, the kneading took a while

- The mixing of the final dough was easier than last year's pandoro, could be that I have more experience this time. It was lilke liquid silk by the end, VERY STRONG liquid silk glove.

- I used glaze for the gift loaves, and the "tuck in a pat of butter" method for the test loaf, both works great.

- I had 800g of extra dough left after making the gift loaves. Don't want to use another paper mold, I dumped it in my new kugelhopf pan, it was only 1/4 full, but the amazing power of italian sourdough starter raised it just fine.

- However, I couldn't hang the Kugelhopf loaf upside down, so I just cooled it upside down on the rack, judging from the crumb, the bottom layer got compressed/squished a bit.

While the crumb of the test loaf was even and fluffy, and I expect the gift loaves to have the same crumb. Lesson: don't skip the step of hanging upside down to cool!

- It took my dough 19 hours at 85F to reach the rim of the mold (as supposed to  12hrs in the recipe), and I got awesome ovenspring, so they weren't over-proofed. I guess my starter likes to take its sweet time. And doesn't care about my sleep time.

- I have made BBA panettone before, no comparison, the flavor and velvety texture of this sourdough version is a whole new level.

- The gifts are all packed up and mailed out, the leftover loaves have been mostly devoured, now I just need to catch up on some sleep. Happy Holidays! ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Submitting to Yeastspotting.

gary.turner's picture

Pumpernickel -- when is it done?

This may seem a silly time to ask, my loaf's in the oven as I  type, but how do you know when pumpernickel is done?

I'm baking a traditional Westphalian version, 100% rye (45% light, 45% medium, and 10% flakes) at approx 70% hydration. Temperature started at 350F and is being lowered 25F every two hours 'til it's at 225F.

Everything I've found for all rye pumpernickels only gives ranges somewhere in a 16 to 24 hour window.

I have a roaster pan with water on the bottom rack, and another roaster inverted over the Pullman pan to trap the moisture (not any sort of seal).

The aroma test seems a bit vague, as the kitchen end of the house has had an aroma of chocolate cake baking since about two hours into the bake; and no, there's nothing but rye, salt, water and yeast in the dough.

Any suggestions?



SylviaH's picture

Peter Reinhart's - Pizza Quest-Recipe, Country Pizza Dough & plenty more news

For those of you who have not seen P.R. Pizza Quest.  This came in my newsletter today from and has been in the making for some time.