Soft Italian Sandwich Rolls

Well I wasn’t planning on going this long without posting but our modem crapped out on us this past weekend and we had to patiently wait until our service provider dropped by to replace it. I had no idea how reliant we were on that thing, internet, tv, phone, all gone, and right before HBO tv night no less, oh the humanity! Now that everything is back up and running I can finally post about these fantastic sandwich rolls. P tries to have lots of sandwich fixin’s at the ready for times when he wants to grab something quick to eat and he usually picks up sandwich rolls from the closest grocery store. After a while I started thinking, who needs to buy rolls when they’re so easy to make? And way better I might add. When I was on a bread baking kick a couple weekends ago, P put in a request for some buns that would replace the ones that he normally buys, his only request, that they be the same size and that they aren’t so crusty that they cut the roof of your mouth, you know, like the sandwiches at Tim Horton’s used to do, well before they changed them that is, man those things could do some damage.

Originally I was thinking of making ciabatta rolls but I knew he was looking for something more bready (is that even a word? No? Well you know what I mean), more closed crumb and soft. These turned out exactly as I hoped they would, soft, with a slight chewy texture and a wonderful flavour. The recipe calls for a Biga, which I find is a must in most bread recipes, it really adds a depth of flavour that you wouldn’t get otherwise. I added a bit of steam to the oven to get a nice crust and the best part was that it didn’t turn out too hard or chewy, the crust is thin and slightly crisp but can also hold up to any amount of toppings, so you can pile that sucker as high as you’d like.

This bread was very easy to make, besides for a lot of waiting during rising times there wasn’t an overzealous amount of hands on time. I found that the most time consuming part, for me anyway, was when it came to shaping the rolls. I still need a lot of practice in this department and ended up reshaping them 3 or 4 times before I got them to a shape that I was happy with. Call me picky but that’s just how I roll (get it? Roll? Ha, ha, ha, man I’m a nerd).

Italian Sandwich Rolls
Adapted from A Bread A Day
Makes 8 large rolls

Biga Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces (1 cup) water, room temperature
  • 8 ounces (1 2/3 cups) unbleached bread flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast

Final Dough Ingredients:

  • 14 – 16 ounces (3 – 3 1/4 cups) unbleached bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
 (0.4 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
 (0.11 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon agave (0.7 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon malt powder
(0.17 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (0.45 ounces)
  • 5 -6 ounces (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) water, room temperature


To make the biga, mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl until smooth.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let ferment at room temperature overnight, or at least 8 and up to 24 hours.

To make the final dough, in the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together all but a handful (1 ounce) of the flour, and all of the salt, malt powder and yeast.  Add the olive oil, agave, 5 ounces of water, and all of the biga.  Using the dough at low speed, mix until all the flour is moistened.  Turn the mixer off, and cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap.  Let rest in place for 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove the plastic wrap, and continue kneading with the dough hook at medium-low speed.  Adjust the consistency by adding small amounts of flour or water as needed.  The dough should be very slack, but should clear the sides of the bowl and there should be a medium level of gluten development.

Transfer the dough to a large, lightly-oiled bowl.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let stand at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Lightly oil a large baking sheet, or line with parchment paper.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Divide it into 8 even pieces, and shape each piece into a round.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let rest for 20 minutes.

Working with one piece at a time and keeping the others covered, form each round into a long torpedo shape.  Transfer to the prepared baking sheet, dust well with additional flour, and cover loosely with plastic wrap.  Let sit at room temperature until doubled in size, about 50 to 60 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 500º F.  Position a pan on the bottom of the oven floor and place the rack in the lowest part of the oven, with a baking stone, if using.

Once oven is preheated, open and carefully poor 1/2 cup water into the pan, immediately close door; this creates the steam you will need. Wait a few moments, then transfer the loaves to the baking stone, if using, or place the baking sheet on the oven rack.  Immediately turn the temperature down to 450º F and bake for 15 minutes, or until browned.  An instant-read thermometer should register about 205º F when inserted into the center of a roll.  Remove to a rack to cool thoroughly before serving.

8 thoughts on “Soft Italian Sandwich Rolls

  1. Susan says:

    It’s amazing how reliant we are on our electronic connections to the world!
    The bread rolls look great. I have made very little in the way of bread, I want to but so far I have not been so good at it. One day I will get there!

  2. A Tablespoon of Liz says:

    These rolls look so good! There’s nothing I like more than making my own bread. Ok, I like eating homemade bread the most.

  3. corrinadarling says:

    i have no idea how to function without the internet. it’s horrible.

    these look so good. i’d never heard of a “biga” before. well, i’m familiar with the idea, but i’d never heard the word. the more you know!

  4. Aleen LaPrelle says:

    Finally got around to making these. FABULOUS !!! So mad at myself for waiting so long. Thank you for my new go-to bread recipe.

  5. Linda Wenger says:

    Would these be suitable for hot Italian beef sandwiches? Will they handle all that juice without dissolving in your hand?

  6. Shannin Zevian says:

    Just made these. Mine don’t quite look like yours, but they are yummy. I stuck the dough in the frig overnight before dividing it up & that seems to have worked pretty well. I’ll absolutely be making these again! Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s