These pillowy sourdough rolls require no added yeast, just your well-fed sourdough starter. Serve them for breakfast, lunch or dinner. You’ll be hooked.
I’ve long preached baking with sourdough on this blog, and hooked many of you into this healthful and rewarding tradition, especially with my no-knead crusty sourdough dinner rolls and sourdough sandwich bread recipes. For you, I have today these pillow-soft sourdough rolls that are sure to become a favorite at dinnertime.
I’ve loved baking with sourdough for as long as I can remember, but in past years I found it challenging to keep my sourdough starter alive and as a result I’d end up discarding batches after long periods of neglect. All that changed the more I learned about sourdough and how it is nearly impossible to actually kill the starter. No matter how long you’ve failed to feed it, it’s always possible to bring it back to life.
My current sourdough starter, George, has been kicking around for nearly three and a half years now. I don’t feed him on any regular basis — I usually pull him out of the refrigerator and start feeding him a few days before I have a baking project in mind. And because I’ve been really busy at work these past few months, that has been rarely, except for the occasional sourdough waffle or sourdough pancake.
Even if your sourdough starter looks awful when you pull it out of the back of the refrigerator, with discolored, strong-alcoholic-smelling liquid collected on top and a dark top skin, you can revive it. Here’s what I do: I pour out the liquid, carefully scrape off the discolored top with a spoon, and then use about half a cup of the clear starter underneath to begin a new starter in a clean container. It always works. When you do this, though, be sure to feed your starter twice a day for a few days to bring it back up to strength.
And don’t worry — you can find uses for the discard. Here are some ideas for recipes you can make with the portion of sourdough you’d usually throw out while feeding your starter.
This bread roll needs a well-fed starter, though, so be sure to use one you that is ripe and has been fed up to six hours before you start making the bread dough.
Tips for making the softest sourdough dinner rolls:
- Like I just said, you will need a freshly fed sourdough starter for this recipe. Feed it the night before or the morning of — at least six hours before you start making the dough.
- You need aquafaba (chickpea brine) in this recipe, and a nondairy milk, to add softness and lightness. I use almond milk, but you can certainly use any other nondairy milk if you’d rather be nut-free.
- I use unbleached all purpose flour for these rolls. Sourdough keeps this bread healthy, by digesting complex starches before you put the bread in your tummy. But if you want to make them healthier, you can sub half the flour with whole wheat.
- Because we are making the rolls without any added yeast, the rise time for these rolls is on the higher side, about four hours for each of two rises. You can also do an overnight rise for the first rise, in the refrigerator.
- If you want your bread to rise faster, add some yeast to the recipe — one and a half teaspoons of active dry yeast should do the trick. If using yeast, mix it with the nondairy milk first and make sure it blooms.
- The proportion of nondairy milk in this recipe works perfectly for me, and I add in all the ingredients all at once to the bowl and then mix. But bread dough tends to behave differently in different climates. So if you’d rather, you can mix all the ingredients except the milk first and then drizzle in the milk until you get a smooth dough. You may need more milk if you’re working in an especially dry climate.
- You don’t need to knead this dough much — just enough to make it soft and smooth and pliable. You can do this in a stand mixer or by hand.
- This recipe makes 12 rolls. You can bake them in two round cake tins or in a rectangular 12 by 13 pan.
- These bread rolls need to cool in the pan for at least 20 minutes after baking, and you can then remove them from the pan and continue cooling them on a rack. It is not hard to get them out of a well-oiled pan, but you might need to help them with a spatula. Otherwise, sprinkle on some cornmeal on the baking pan before you place the rolls in it, which should make unmolding them a breeze.
Ingredients for Soft Sourdough Rolls:
- Sourdough starter
- Unbleached all purpose flour
- Aquafaba (chickpea brine)
- Vegetable oil
- Nondairy milk
Looking for more sourdough recipes?
- No Knead Sourdough Bread
- Vegan Sourdough Blueberry Pancakes
- Herby, garlicky Sourdough Focaccia
- Vegan Sourdough Waffles
- Sourdough Pretzels
- The Best Sourdough Sandwich Bread
Soft Sourdough Rolls Recipe
Soft Sourdough Rolls
- Place all the ingredients except the nondairy milk in a bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Drizzle in the milk as needed until the dough comes together. Knead it just until it's soft and pliable and smooth.
- Form the dough into a smooth ball and place in a bowl to rise, turning over the dough once to coat the top with the oil. Cover the bowl with a tight lid or cling wrap and let stand in a warm place for four hours or overnight in the refrigerator, until the dough has doubled. This dough won't rise as fast or as much as a bread dough with added yeast would, but that's fine.
- If you placed your dough in the refrigerator, and it hasn't doubled overnight, let it stand in a warm place in your kitchen until it does.
- Knead the risen dough, and divide into 12 portions. Shape each into a smooth ball by stretching the dough and tucking the sides underneath. Place in a well-oiled 13 X 9 inch baking pan. The rolls won't touch at this point but that's okay because they will as they rise and bake.
- Cover the pan with a kitchen towel and place in a warm spot, like the oven with just the pilot light turned on, for four hours or until they are all puffy and are touching each other.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (make sure you remove the rolls from the oven if they are rising in there while the oven preheats)
- Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake 30 minutes until the rolls are golden-brown on top. Let them stand on a rack 20 minutes, then remove from the rack and continue cooling.