Soft and fluffy, honey wheat rolls are simply irresistible. These homemade wheat rolls use some tricks to keep them pillowy, fresh and soft for days. Perfect for serving your family more fiber rich foods for better health.
Soft Honey Wheat Rolls
The popular soft dinner rolls and bread rolls are made with white flour, which is not a good source of fiber, and therefore not healthy to use it all the time. But bread is a foundation of our diet, and especially bread rolls are eaten in larger quantities.
When these rolls are made with whole wheat flour, the two things that stand out are the change in texture and flavor. Whole wheat flour has the bran and germ, which can come in the way of gluten development, if we are not careful. And it also has a stronger flavor.
Whole wheat baking often results in drier and coarser bread, due to inadequate hydration and technique used. Here in this recipe, I have used some tricks to enhance the dough and gluten development to give super soft honey wheat rolls. And if you have these with a touch of jam, honey, or cheese, you won’t even know they have more whole wheat.
These honey wheat rolls are so soft and stay fresh for much longer than usual — really perfect and unbelievable for a wheat roll with more fiber. They are versatile and can be used at any meal or for sandwiches.
Why This Recipe Works
Tangzhong: A Japanese technique in which small amount of flour is cooked with liquid into a thick paste and added as an ingredient. It is a dough enhancer, that is one of the secrets to soft rolls.
Here we combine whole wheat flour with the liquid and let it rest in the initial step. This allows the bran and germ to hydrate, soften and let the proteins come together to make the gluten. Sufficient time is given for the starch to absorb moisture and swell. This way we avoid using excess flour.
Vital Gluten: Whole wheat flour has enough protein to be able to make good gluten, when we follow the technique properly. However, vital gluten is supportive, and can enhance the gluten development. This may be especially useful for new bakers or most home cooks who don’t bake often.
Dry Milk Powder: It softens the dough. We already have milk in the recipe, but the dry milk powder is to make up for the tangzhong made with water.
Butter on the Top: In this recipe, I use less butter in the dough, but the brush of butter on the top adds a buttery flavor, shine and softness that is more relevant and perceptible to our palate. The honey and garlic flavor further takes it up a notch.
Seeds for Flavor: Some seeds or almonds slices on the top adds a nice flavor, texture and appearance, which may be especially good for wheat rolls.
White Whole Wheat Flour: This has a less intense wheat taste and appearance, and can be specifically useful for gradually introducing whole wheat flour into your breads.
How to Make it
- Tangzhong: cook the flour with water into a paste.
- Combine whole wheat flour, warm milk, dry yeast and let it rest for 20 minutes.
- Add remaining dough ingredients except bread flour and combine.
- Gradually add bread flour, letting the flour absorb the liquids well.
- Knead the dough until smooth and soft.
- Let it rise until double in bulk.
- Punch it down and make rolls and let it rise again until double in size.
- Brush egg and sprinkle with seeds.
- Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until brown and well done.
- Brush honey-butter or garlic-butter on hot rolls.
Extra Tips and Tricks
- Active dry yeast would be better for these rolls. Longer fermentation and rise times, give the dough more time to develop, as the yeast activates more slowly.
- Be sure to check the temperature for your yeast. Preferably, use a thermometer. It is 110 degrees Fahrenheit for active dry yeast and 125 degrees Fahrenheit for rapid rise yeast.
- Give the dough sufficient time to rise. It is a richer dough with ingredients that are known to slow the yeast. I let it rise in an oven that is not preheated. If necessary, keeping a bowl of hot water on the floor of the oven, but away from the dough, gives it a warm environment for the rise.
- Converting people who are used to white bread to whole wheat breads takes time. Be gradual about it.
- Use white whole wheat flour and increase it gradually in your recipes. Start with ⅓ substitution and scale it up as accepted. The key is to at least get some fiber into the breads, if not all!
- In the recipe here I used a ratio of whole wheat to white, to make it acceptable to most, for the pillowy texture. But you can make these rolls with 100% whole wheat flour — try it and see how you like it.
- If you are new to bread baking, start with bread flour as it is easier. Then gradually increase the amount of whole wheat flour used in your recipes. Once you master gluten development with whole wheat flour, you may not even need to use vital gluten in many recipes.
- The touch of butter on the top is for flavor. Experiment with brown butter or ghee also and see what you like, as those have a more intense flavor.
- Yeast baking is about touch and feel, but not so much about exact flour measurements. Temperature, humidity, climate, altitude, the packing of your flour and other factors can influence the amount of flour you will need for a recipe. So focus on the dough characteristics as you make it.
- Be sure to buy fresh flour, as whole wheat oxidizes. Get it from stores with high turnover rate. Store whole wheat flour in refrigerator or freezer to prevent rancidity due to the oil-rich germ. Try to use it up in couple months.
- In this recipe I have used black seeds, which have many amazing health benefits. But it may be an acquired taste for some people. So try it and use.
Whole Wheat Flour and Gut health
Whole wheat is a great source of fiber, polyphenols, vitamin E, and phytosterols, all of which may play a role in lowering the risk of certain chronic diseases.
The greatest benefit of whole wheat flour vs. refined white flour is the higher content of fiber. And research studies have indicated that wheat fiber improves laxation, lowers gut transit time and may lower the risk of colorectal cancer.
More Yeast Baking Recipes:
- Barbari Bread
- Tuna Melt Crescent Ring
- Musakhan (Sumac Chicken Caramelized Onion Flatbread)
- Fatayer (Swiss Chard Pies)
- Blueberry Kuchen
★ DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? PLEASE COMMENT AND GIVE IT A STAR RATING BELOW!
Soft Honey Wheat Rolls
- ¼ cup bread flour or all purpose flour
- ¾ cup water
- 1 cup warm milk
whole or reduced fat
- 1 packet active dry yeast
- 2½ cups whole wheat flour preferably white whole wheat
- 2 tablespoons vital gluten recommended
- ⅓ cup honey
- 3 tablespoons butter softened or melted
- 3 tablespoons light olive oil or butter
- 2 eggs medium, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons dry milk powder optional
- 1¼ cups bread flour
or all purpose flour, adjust as needed
- Flour for dusting
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 teaspoon honey
- 1 clove garlic finely grated
- Digital Thermometer
- Dough Scraper
- Fit the stand mixer with a dough hook. Warm up the milk to 110° Fahrenheit and pour it into the stand mixer bowl.
- Scatter the yeast over it and let it stand in a warm dark place for about 10 minutes until the yeast foams up on the surface.
- Then add 2½ cups whole wheat flour and stir it in well and let it rest for 20 minutes to let the flour absorb the moisture and swell up. Add the vital gluten also in this step, if using it.
- Next, add the tangzhong paste, honey, butter and/or oil, eggs, salt, dry milk powder (if using). Let the stand mixer run at low speed until all the ingredients are well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if needed.
- Gradually add ¼ to ½ cup of all purpose flour at a time while mixing it in and give the flour time to absorb the moisture and swell. Increase the speed to medium and knead the dough for about 5 minutes.
- Go slow to let the flour absorb the liquids, or you will end up using more flour and the rolls will not be moist. If the dough is slightly sticky it is okay. It should be soft and pulling away from the bowl while the mixer is running.Tip: Check for gluten formation by doing the window pane test. If not, knead some more time.
- Lightly oil the dough and the bowl, cover with a moist towel or cling wrap, place it in a warm dry place and let the dough rise to double in bulk. This may take 2 hours or more depending on the temperature and other climatic conditions. I usually let it rise inside an oven that has not been preheated.
Shaping the Rolls
- Preheat oven to 400ºF.
- Once the yeast dough has doubled in size, punch it down and divide into 16 equal portions. You could weigh them to be accurate.
- Roll each portion into a cylindrical shape and place it on a clean and smooth surface. Place both your palms over the dough and roll it into a smooth long strip. If needed, use oil or flour lightly to keep the dough smooth and prevent sticking.
- Fold it over to make a loose knot, and bring the ends of the string on the other side and pinch together to seal it well. You could also make plain round shape rolls too, but make sure to smoothen the dough and pull the seams to the bottom.
- Place the wheat honey rolls over a parchment lined baking sheet, making sure to space them apart by at least 2 inches to allow enough room for the rolls to rise.
- Allow the rolls to rise until double the size. This may take up to 30 minutes.
Topping and Baking
- Brush beaten egg on top of the wheat rolls. Sprinkle the seeds or almond slices on the rolls. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until nicely browned on the top. Tent with foil if the tops become too brown before they are baked fully.
- Melt one tablespoon of butter and stir in honey. Then melt another tablespoon butter and mix in grated garlic.
- Remove rolls from the oven and brush with melted honey-butter or garlic-butter. Serve immediately.
- Store cooled rolls wrapped in a cheesecloth or paper towels and packed in plastic bags for 3 to 4 days.
- Warm milk: 120 - 130 degrees F for rapid rise yeast and 110 degrees F for active dry yeast. Check yeast package instructions.
- Important steps to ensure success with these soft honey wheat rolls recipe:
- (a) Let the yeast foam up well before adding other ingredients.
- (b) Give enough time to let the dough double in bulk in the first rise. Allow it to rise in a warm environment.
- (c) Give sufficient time to let the prepared rolls double in bulk once in the second rise.
- (d) Placing the dough or the rolls in an oven that has not been preheated and with a pan of hot water one level below the container/baking sheet will help the dough rise better. But don’t place the hot water too close to the dough.
- You can freeze these rolls in freezer safe bags. Thaw and warm it up in an oven or toaster oven.
- This recipe can easily be halved.
- Check the extra tips and blog post for more about whole wheat flour baking.