You can enjoy an Easter feast with this weekend without hosting a crowd. Many stores are closing on Sunday to give their employees time at home to recharge. And while it is not prudent to have a large get-together for an Easter dinner, families of any size can enjoy celebrating this holiday with fresh baked foolproof frozen dough rolls with herb topping.
I have to admit that I was a frozen dough snob, having never even tried them until about five years ago when we moved from the Bay area. It took serving large groups of hungry adults several times a week as a volunteer to realize that while I could make the rolls from scratch myself, it wasn’t the best use of my time. So after baking thousands of rolls over two years, I figured out the tips and tricks to baking frozen dough rolls.
The most famous brand is Rhodes Bake-N-Serv Bread. Founded by Herbert Cecil Rhodes over 60 years ago, the company still makes its product based on the original recipe which features high protein flour and minimal preservatives. Other brands have developed their own versions of frozen dough, all can be found in the frozen food aisle of the grocery store.
One of the best features of using frozen dough rolls is you can choose how many to bake. While that seems obvious at first glance, if you are planning a cozy dinner for two, you can bake just two rolls and save the rest still frozen, for another meal. Using frozen dough does require some planning beforehand. But the time commitment is minimal and prepped correctly, I have found the rolls taste great the second day so that gives you a large window to prepare.
While there are cheats to rapidly thaw and rise the frozen dough, I have not found any method that really produces a great result. So for foolproof rolls, you need to allow several hours for the dough to thaw and rise naturally.
Tips for Foolproof Rolls from Frozen Dough
- Buy a package that doesn’t have a bunch of ice crystals on the dough or where the frozen dough balls are stuck together. This signifies the package has been partially defrosted and has been refrozen.
- Store the dough in the freezer as soon as you can. Don’t let the package start to defrost in the car as you run a bunch of errands on your way home from the grocery store. (This applies to all groceries that need to be frozen or refrigerated! Plan your shopping day accordingly and bring a cooler or cold-hot bag to transport food items.)
- Choose what kind of rolls you want, before you start to thaw them. If you want rolls with soft sides, arrange them on a baking sheet so as they rise and bake the sides will touch. If you want rolls with crusts on the sides, arrange them in a muffin pan so the metal sides will heat the sides of the rolls and produce a nice brown crust all around the roll making them great to serve with soup.
- Lightly oil the pan before you arrange the frozen dough. This will make it easy to remove the rolls after baking.
- You can thaw the dough overnight in the refrigerator. Since using frozen dough requires both a thawing stage and then rising stage. This makes prepping rolls much faster. The thawing time will be about eight hours in a refrigerator or one to two hours at room temperature. The thawed dough can be held in the refrigerator for up to two days. Do remember that once the dough has completely thawed, it will slowly start to rise even in the cool temperature of the refrigerator. Do not refreeze thawed dough.
- Cover the dough as it thaws and rises to prevent it from drying out. You can spray plastic wrap with nonstick cooking spray and cover the pan, but I have found it better to place a clean dish towel over the pan instead. This prevents the dough from becoming distorted or sticking when it is time to bake the rolls. The dishtowel will keep the dough from drying out.
- Don’t cheat by using the microwave to hurry the rising of the dough. The uneven heat when microwaving makes it easy to kill the yeast.
- Let the dough rise until it’s doubled in size before baking. If using a savory topping on your rolls, plan on lightly brushing it on the dough after the rolls have thawed and just started to rise.
- The dough will rise fastest in a warm, moist area. Place a bowl of hot water in the cold oven, on the bottom shelf and set the tray of dough on the top shelf and let it rise. The heat and moisture from the hot water will create the perfect environment for the dough. The drawback to this method is the oven is now out of commission and if you are baking more than one tray of rolls, it isn’t ideal. Choose a warm spot in your house for the rolls to rise. Place a dishtowel on a cold stone countertop as a buffer between the baking pan and to help with the rising of the dough.
- Don’t jostle the dough as it is rising. Too much knocking of the rolls will cause the dough to deflate and create misshapen rolls. You will know the rolls are ready to bake when they have doubled in size, or when a finger indentation remains in the dough.
- If the rolls are rising too quickly, you can par-bake them in a preheated 350°F until just barely starting to brown. Remove for the oven and cool in the pan. Then when you are ready, finish baking by putting the pan back in the 350°F oven for 3-5 minutes to nicely brown.
- Bake rolls in a preheated 350°F oven, if baking more than one tray, rotate the trays halfway through to promote even baking. Baking time depends on the size of the rolls, anywhere between 15-22 minutes. You are looking for a golden brown color on top.
- After rolls have cooled for 5 minutes on the baking pan, room to a cooling rack to finish cooling to prevent soggy bottoms on the rolls.
- Store in a plastic bag overnight to keep fresh. Reheat rolls in a 200°F oven for 8-10 minutes to serve warm rolls the next day.
- A 16-ounce loaf of frozen dough can be divided to form rolls once it has thawed completely. It will make 8 large rolls or 12 regular rolls.
Try these tips for foolproof rolls made from frozen dough. The savory herb topping makes these rolls perfect for any meal.
- 12 frozen dough rolls
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
- 1–1/2 teaspoon Salad Supreme Seasoning
- 1 teaspoon parmesan cheese powder
- Lightly oil a muffin tin.
- Arrange frozen dough rolls in the muffin tin and let thaw for 2-1/2 hours covered with a dish towel.
- Melt butter and combine Italian seasoning, Salad Supreme and parmesan cheese powder in a small bowl.
- When dough is just starting to rise, remove dish towel, lightly brush with the herb butter, recover with dish towel and set muffin pan in a warm draft-free spot.
- Let rise until rolls have doubled in size about 1-1/2-2 hours more.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Bake rolls in preheated 350°F pan for 15-18 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
- Remove pan from oven and let rest for 5 minutes in muffin pan. Transfer rolls to cooling rack or serve warm.
Remember more the the best features of using frozen dough rolls is you can bake as many as you would like. This means that even if you are cooking for just yourself, you can enjoy a freshly baked roll for one.
I really like Salad Supreme from McCormick. It is a great all purpose sprinkle for sandwiches and vegetables.
This recipe is the only use I have for the ubiquitous canned parmesan powder. You can always substitute real grated cheese for the powder instead.
Store any leftover herb butter in the freezer or serve it along side the rolls.