The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Making rolls ahead of time-a synopsis

clazar123's picture

Making rolls ahead of time-a synopsis

As usual, I am trying not to be last minute but I am a little overwhelmed with planning. I have researched a little and have a rough synopsis in my head that I will put into writing about all the different methods for making rolls/loaves ahead of time.

I am bringing rolls for both Thanksgiving dinner and the day after Thanksgiving for sandwiches to my daughter's house, which is a long drive from here. My circumstances are that I can bake the weekend before this event. The baked goods (in whatever form) are packed in a cooler in the car for about 7 hours (long drive). The dinner rolls need to be ready Thursday at noon .There is a small kitchen at my destination but a full sized refrigerator,oven and freezer. Oven time is at a premium with coordinating the Thanksgiving meal.

Here are my options, as I see from research, for making rolls/loaves ahead of time:

1. Make dough evening before event.Cold retard overnight in large plastic container. Next morning, finish rise (about an hour),shape,proof,bake. Works well if at home or short transport distance away.

I can't do this method since I need to pack it in a cooler in the morning for a 7hr drive. I'm sure it will over-rise on drive.(I did this once before and it was way over-risen. I had to de-gas it mid-trip). Upon arrival I would shape,proof, bake. Makes for a late evening after a long drive.

2.Make dough ahead and freeze right after mixing. Defrost next day. Rise,shape,proof and bake. The trick is figuring out the defrosting time so they are ready when you need them.It might take practice.

For this trip, I prefer not to do this I don't have enough experience with how long it will take. The dough will defrost on the drive and then I can rise,shape,proof and bake at destination .But it is another long night after a long drive.

3. Make dough ahead ,do initial rise and shape and then freeze.Defrost,proof and bake the next day.This could work well for short transport time so the rolls stay pretty frozen.Again,tho,timing could be an issue and that comes with experience. If the rolls are allowed to defrost, they will start proofing. Could be a problem.

4. Make dough ahead, rise, shape, fully proof,then freeze. Suggested by Mark at BackHome Bakery for cinnamon rolls. Take frozen but fully proofed rolls from freezer directly to oven. This could work but I don't have a lot of room in my freezer for multiple pans of rolls to freeze at the fully proofed stage. They would work better for panned rolls (like the buttermilk cluster) but I'm making separate rolls.

5.Make dough ahead,rise,shape,proof, parbake and then freeze. Defrosts on drive but can be baked that evening or even the next am.The rolls are set so they won't degas if jostled and should be able to package compactly with enough protection that they don't get squished. I think this is my best option.

I know quality always suffers some when doing ahead but that is acceptable to me.Nothing beats fresh.

It always helps to get these thoughts down and organized,too.

Happy Thanksgiving to all! 



Chuck's picture

Yep, parbaking seems like the best option  ...but that's purely theoretical speculation on my part. Please let us know how it turned out for you, so we know whether to try the same thing. Thanks!

mcs's picture

I think the best option in this instance is to just bake/freeze them ahead of time.  Then you can transport them frozen in a cooler and put them in the freezer when you get there.  Thaw them a couple of hours ahead of time when you need them, then heat them up wrapped in foil to retain the moisture. 

Bakers tend to be the pickiest about their own bread.  Others will consider reheated warm rolls 'fresh from the oven' whereas you may consider it 'cheating'.


lazybaker's picture

Be careful with the parbaking. You don't want to parbake to the point where it's still raw in the center. I remember baking where it was underdone in the center. When I returned it to the oven to bake, the center never really baked thoroughly. The center was gummy and raw. The only time parbaking works for me is with pizza.

Bake the rolls and loaves thoroughly but leave the crust at the golden stage. You can further the browning process later when you reheat them.


chickadee3's picture
chickadee3 (not verified)

With such a long travel time, it seems to me that you need some better options than traveling and baking and eating the same day.  Perhaps there's an option for you to get there the day before?  If you got there the day before, you can bake at a more leisurely pace.  That would be so much more relaxing (and safer), and there would be emphasis on getting together with family and friends, not just travel and getting the rolls out on time. 

Hope your Thanksgiving is relaxing.