Thanksgiving Buns and Helpful Hints for Holiday Baking!

thanksgiving buns

Just in case you need a little guidance on Thanksgiving day, here’s some good information about our most frequently asked questions:

Dense Crumb or Loaves Not Rising Enough?

Wet Dough Sticks to the Peel?

How to Improve Whole Grain Loaves?

High Altitude Baking?

Using a Different Type of Flour?

Too Salty or Not Salty Enough?

During the past week we’ve had several questions about making our various doughs into buns. These tiny little loaves are the traditional shape for the holidays and can be easily made from any of our doughs.  Here is how:

thanksgiving buns

Pick any dough you want from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Sprinkle flour over the top of the dough and cut off small pieces; kitchen shears are nice for this job.

thanksgiving buns

If you have a kitchen scale you will want each one to weigh about 2 ounces. As you can see I have a small bowl of flour sitting right on my scale. I set the bowl down and then press tare. The bowl of flour allows me to rest the sticky dough down without making a complete mess of my favorite scale.

If you aren’t using a scale then the buns should be about the size of a golf ball.

thanksgiving buns

Form the dough into a smooth ball by gently pulling the top of the dough around to the bottom and then tuck the ends under.

thanksgiving buns

The ball should be nice and round, but you should only work it into this shape for about 20-40 seconds. Try to handle it as little as possible.

thanksgiving buns

Set the buns on a cookie sheet that is lined with parchment or a silpat.

thanksgiving buns

Normally we don’t cover the dough in plastic as it rests, but it has been so dry in my kitchen this fall that I loosely covered the buns. Let them rest until they no longer feel chilled and have a bit of puffiness to them. Our dough will not double in size while it rests, but it will have nice rise in the oven! This rest can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour depending on the dough and how cold your kitchen is.

While your buns are rising, preheat your oven to the temperature that the specific dough suggests.

thanksgiving buns

Some breads will ask for a dusting of flour, a brushing of cornstarch wash or egg wash (use a pastry brush). Do as the recipe suggests. You can certainly slash them as well, but I just left the shape to chance and baked them without slashing.

Bake the buns for about 20 minutes. If you are using the non-enriched doughs you want to go by the same deep brown crust guideline that you would use for the bigger loaves.

thanksgiving buns

Once my buns  came out of the oven I brushed them with butter, this will soften the crust.

Happy Thanksgiving!

83 thoughts to “Thanksgiving Buns and Helpful Hints for Holiday Baking!”

  1. I did want to add that the cornbread worked nicely for the epi. I have no pictures but I’ll do it again, I’m sure!

  2. Thanks, Jeff. I actually went ahead and made it and it’s super. We made doughnuts out of it and plan to do something different today as we’ll have another grand snow day. I put in almost a cup and it was fine. Next time I may add more but I am thinking as the roll with the ganach, it will be fantastic. Thank you for your help. We appreciate you guys and all the work that you do and I have been recommending your book to everyone I talk to and have gotten a few onto the method.

    Thank you as well for your awesome customer service!

    1. Katrina: So glad your mom’s peanut doughnuts worked with that much PB. I was being too conservative.

      We love connecting with readers here, it’s really been fun and it certainly differentiates the book from other cookbooks. As far as I no, no one is doing this— at least, not like this. Jeff

  3. Hi – all I can say is a BIG thank you for writing the first book (I have yet to purchase the 2nd). My husband always asks for Vermont Cheddar whenever I say, “What kind of bread shall I bake?” My grandchildren (19 in all!) go wild over it. I’ve baked bread for 49 years and this is the best set of recipes yet!! Thanks a bunch! C.

  4. I recently bought both of your books & read them in 2 days. I first made your Pecan Sticky Buns & they turned out wonderful. I made the rest into dinner rolls. Great results.

    I just mixed up the Whole Wheat Flax Bread & can’t wait to try it.

    I grind my own wheat & use hard white winter wheat kernels. I’m wondering if that flour will be OK & if that is also what you call “white” whole wheat flour in some recipes.

    Next, if it’s not OK, which type of wheat kernel would you recommend?

    You’re both so generous to spend so much time – not only to experiment for the books & write them, but to answer questions here. I’ve been baking bread for many years & your method is the BEST!!!

    1. Barbara: If the wheat you’re talking about has a very light outer bran, that’s it. Try to use the lightest-in-color bran you can, and you’ll start to get to what KAF and other brands are calling “white whole wheat.” It swaps for regular whole wheat, not all-purpose white flour. Jeff

  5. Thank you, Jeff. It is light. We loved the Whole Wheat Flax Bread. I made one similar the traditional way. It had a lot of seeds in it, so next time I’ll add seeds & it will taste the same.

  6. Do you think the limpa bread recipe would make great rolls? Also, is there a way to make the rolls ahead without loosing quality?

    1. Nina: I love the limpa as rolls go for it.

      Personally, I think rolls go stale very quickly. Try the overnight rise in the fridge to get efficient (go the the “Dense Crumb FAQ above). Jeff

  7. First, love your book & method! I know this is an older post, but I’ve been planning to use some of your dough to make Thanksgiving rolls myself. I usually use either the master recipe or an adapted version of the light whole wheat (I use a little higher ratio of wheat to white flour, plus 2 Tbsp. sugar). However I’ve been wondering whether to try one of the other doughs to get a softer texture for Thanksgiving rolls. Do you remember which dough you used here? They look delicious! Thanks!

    1. Hi Kristen,

      Any of the doughs that have some butter, sugar and/or eggs in them will be softer. I have used the brioche, buttermilk and challah doughs for great buns. The soft whole wheat dough will also work well.

      Thanks, Zoë

  8. Zoe,

    Thanks for helping me find this thread. Very helpful. I’d personally prefer the crusty rolls, but the crowd I’m baking for likes the store-bought white bread soft ones and I’m trying to please them. So, I think I’m settled on either the Buttermilk Bread dough or the Soft American Style White and cooking them 8-up in a 9 inch cake pan as another poster did.

    1. Do you think one recipe is better than the other for what I’m going for?
    2. How many ounces of dough should I cut off per roll?
    3. Do I shape same as other rolls even if cooking in cake pan?
    4. How long do I let the dough rest in the pan before baking?
    5. Do I use steam?

    1. HI Susan,

      I would go with the soft American White for this.

      2 ounces of dough, shaped in small balls, spaced about 1/2-inch apart. Let them rest for about 45 minutes for a really soft roll. Brush them with egg wash instead of using steam.

      Enjoy, Zoë

  9. Zoe, I baked at 350 — took nearly 30 minutes which made me nervous given the 20+ advice you gave to another poster above. They were soft and delicious, but not at all fluffy which is what I was expecting. Any way to get a fluffy roll?

    The brotchen I also made today, however, were perfection!

    1. Susan: Our style tends to produce a denser result than what most people would classify as “fluffy.” You could possibly approximate it with a longer resting time, try increasing that by 25% and see what you think. Jeff

  10. Can you please tell me the temperature that you used for this recipe, and did you use the broiler pan like did you add the extra cup of water?? Thank you

    1. Isis: Depends on which of our doughs you use. For lean dough, 450F is good, unless you have large seeds (like sunflower or pumpkin) on top, in which case it’s 400. For sweet doughs like challah and brioche, it’s 350F.

      1. OMG, you actually replied to my post, this is awesome.. cant belive it!!!!. I am using the plain dough, the original recipe ( thats the only dough i have tried) so 450 would be correct? for 20 min, and do i have to add the broiler pan with the hot water? Thank you so much

      2. Hey, that’s why we’re here!

        450 is right. This will produce a firm, not a super-soft and tender one. Can paint melted butter or oil onto the finished rolls when come out of the oven. See my post that I just put up…

  11. I just got myself a stoneware muffin pan and thought it would make great buns. Problem is I an not sure if I rise in the pan, but then it does not get pre-heated. Or should I pre-heat pan as I would for bread, and then try to drop the risen buns in the pan?


    1. Hi Mary,

      I would let the dough rise right in the pan. If you have experience dropping the dough into such a small pan, they try it and see what you think. Let me know how they come out, I’ve never done it.

      Thanks, Zoë

  12. I’ve recently started making my own kefir. Do you think it would be fine to substitute the buttermilk with kefir in the buttermilk bread from AI5? I want to make rolls for Thanksgiving.

    1. Yes– that should work but be sure you’re OK with the moisture level–see how the dough looks when mixed as written.

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