Refrigerator Rolls

Don’t you want to make these now?

This potato roll dough is good for 24 hours or so in the fridge, and makes the softest, whitest rolls imaginable.  Sooooo delicious.  I will go in-depth on how to make the bread dough, but if you are a seasoned pro at bread baking, feel free to skim through the photos and just get to the good stuff.

Time:  about 7 to 24 hours (2 hours hands-on)

Yield: about 40 dinner rolls


  • 1  1/2 cups warm water (110°-115°F, or warm to the touch, but not burning)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast (not bread machine or quick-rise)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup soft or melted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups lukewarm mashed potatoes (2/3 c. potato flakes + 1  1/4 c. water)
  • 7 – 7  1/2 cups white flour

    Everything I need for potato rolls.

    Pour the warm water into a very large mixing bowl.  Sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the water and gently mix it with a whisk.

    It takes a little while for the yeast to dissolve.

    Stir in the sugar and salt, then let it all sit for about 10 minutes.

    First 4 in, and ready to go!

    While you are waiting, prepare your potatoes.  I highly recommend using mashed potato flakes for bread because they are faster, and vastly smoother than using fresh potatoes or potato buds.  If you use either of those types try to get them as smooth as possible or lumps will work to the surface of the dough as you knead it later on.  To get the right amount of instant mashed potatoes, stir  1  1/4 cups of water into 2/3 cups flakes in a small, microwave safe bowl.  Heat in the microwave 1 minute.  Stir it again.  It ends up being a bit soft, but it stirs into the bread easier that way.

    When the potatoes are ready, check your yeast and verify that it is a little foamy on top.

    The lighter area is the foam on the yeast, showing that it poofed up a little.

    Add the eggs and butter to the yeast mixture and stir it together.

    This is not stirred. You should stir yours. If yours looks like this after stirring, stir it more.

    If the butter is soft, but not completely melted into the mixture, that is ok.  Add the potatoes and stir them in.

    This is after adding the potatoes. Note that there is a lot more liquid in my bowl.

    Add the flour 1-2 cups at a time.  I usually add 2 cups at a time until it starts to get too thick for the whisk, then it goes in 1 cup at a time.  I will show the progression of the dough so you know when to stop adding flour, and when you should  be adding it slower.  Be aware that the flour measurement is not exact, as you may be able to mix in more or less flour than the recipe says.  That is ok.  Bread is all about look and feel, and you don’t want it to sloppy or too stiff (I err on the side of sloppiness if I am unsure- that way I don’t end up with hard, dry bread.)

    This is just after stirring in 2 cups, and before I got the 3rd and 4th cups mixed in. After 2 cups it’s still like a batter.

    This is after 4 cups of flour are in. It’s still waaaay too sticky.

    This is after 5 cups. Note that I switched to the spoon. The whisk just became ineffective.

    This is after 6 cups of flour. See how it’s come away from the bowl? Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl regularly to get everything mixed in. This will be especially helpful when you need to wash out your bowl and it is mostly clean.

    After 6 1/2 cups of flour I think it is ready to knead. I will not be measuring anymore after this point, since I will go by feel once I start kneading. Bread baking is not the time to one-up me and show me how you got all the flour stirred in and I didn’t.  Remember that you want these to be soft.

    The next step in the process is kneading.  On a clean, dry surface, sprinkle a liberal amount of flour.  Flour your hands as well.  Turn the dough out onto the flour, scrape out your bowl, and very swiftly start kneading.  At the beginning you will want to get as much flour on all surfaces of the dough as possible, since it will be very sticky.   There is no set amount of flour that you will need to use – it is just to keep the dough from sticking to the counter and your hands.  I have used as little as 1/2 a cup, and as much as 1  1/2 cups.  As the dough gets less and less sticky, reduce the use of the flour.  It is done being kneaded when the dough is smooth, stretchy, and moist-but-not-sticky.  I will show the progression in photos below.

    Kneading is a simple action that is very rhythmic and results in a smooth, round ball of dough when you are done.  The rhythm you need to memorize is: fold, press, turn, fold, press, turn.  It’s best done with clean hands and no jewelry.

    Fold (I took my own pictures, so I can’t show how I use both hands. I hope you get the idea.)

    Fold (Note that there will be a lot of flour needed at the beginning and less as the dough reaches it’s state of readiness)

    Press – make sure it’s good and squished down into itself, since it will spring up a bit.

    Turn – the dough should stick to itself some, but otherwise have enough flour on the bottom to turn smoothly and easily.

    Done! It’s past the smooth, stretchy, and moist-but-not-sticky tests. I showed my palm, to indicate that the dough no longer gummed up my hand each time I pulled away from it. I also like to clean up all the flour from my counter with the dough as I go, so cleanup is a simple matter of a damp washcloth instead of a large scraper.

    Now you need to clean out your bowl (flour your dough again before you leave it on your counter that long, as the dough on your kneading surface will cause the lump to adhere to it) and oil it up.  You can use some other form of grease, but oil is quickest and easiest.

    I generously use olive oil.

    And coat the bowl thoroughly.

    And the lid – plastic wrap works fine, but oil it too.

    And I put the dough in ugly side up, flip it over, tuck in the edges a little, and voila!  Pretty, fully-oiled dough!

    Ugly side up

    Grab an edge…

    Flip it over…

    Tuck in the edges…

    And voila! Pretty, fully-oiled dough.

    Put the lid on (or cover with oiled plastic wrap) and put it in the fridge for 4 to 24 hours.

    In the fridge for 4+ hours.

    During that time it will raise very slowly.  It’s done raising when there are many small bubbles on the surface, and when a poke of your finger leaves an indent that doesn’t shrink – and which may deflate the dough somewhat.  If you make the dough the day before baking it, it may not look as puffy.  Sniff it, and if it smells good, go ahead and use it.  I have had dough that flattened out completely, and it smelled like wine, indicating that I’d somehow damaged the yeast.  The dough was not good, and I threw it away.

    The uneven surface is due to the bubbles. Note that it’s also a lot bigger.

    My finger poke stayed and created a bit of a crater in the surrounding dough. It did not just spring back into shape.

    From here you can shape the dough into rolls, raise them again, and bake them.  Start by prepping a baking sheet with some softened butter to prevent sticking.  I have had the best results using butter as opposed to oil or nonstick spray.

    To shape rolls I like to grab a roll-sized chunk of dough, cut it with a sharp knife, and do mini kneading.


    I grab an edge, put it in the middle, turn the bun, and repeat until all the edges are tucked in, and it looks like a nice, round bun.

    All the edges tucked to the middle, and we’re looking at the bottom of the bun.

    As they are formed, arrange them on the baking sheet, keeping them about an inch apart, based on the size (larger rolls need more room, smaller need less).

    15 on this pan, and all looking uniform.

    Now let them raise for 45-75 minutes or until they are about doubled in size, and they look poofy and soft instead of dense.  Be aware that the temperature and the humidity in a room can greatly affect the speed of raising.  Warm and moist is ideal for a quick batch, while cool and dry is nice if you want to run an errand between forming and baking.  As impatient kids we used to put our dough on the running dryer to speed the rise.

    These probably could have raised longer, but I was pressed for time.

    Bake these in a 400°F oven for 10-15 minutes, depending on size.  Be sure to check on them pretty regularly…the high temp makes them come out brown on the outside and soft on the inside, but it can get ahead of you fast, so pay attention!  They are done when the tops and bottoms are golden brown, and the edges that split or are touching other buns are dry, not doughy.

    Halfway through baking they are still white, but they have grown some more.

    All done! Golden on the tops and bottoms, and dry on the split and touching edges.

    Cool on a wire rack.  Or eat them all right away after cooling enough that you don’t burn your mouth off.

    These are best eaten the same day, which makes refrigerator dough a great choice, since you only need to mix up one batch but you can eat fresh bread for a couple of days.  I also like to take these to family gatherings because I can do the time consuming stuff the day before,  then and raise and bake them the day of the gathering.

    Once cooled, store them in a sealed container and eat for up to 3 days.

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2 Responses to Refrigerator Rolls

  1. Amie says:

    I made these today. They were amazing! Thanks for sharing, Julia!

  2. Pingback: Naan | Life As I Live It

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