Onion rolls and herb bread

Alexa Johnston transforms basic dough into buns and herb bread

  • 50 mins cooking
  • Makes 8 Item
  • Print


Bread dough
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 450 millilitre warm water
  • 2 teaspoon dried yeast
  • 450 gram high-grade flour
  • 225 gram wholemeal flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 25 gram lard or butter
Onion rolls
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 25 gram butter
Herb bread
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 tablespoon mixed fresh herbs such as parsley, thyme, oregano, chives, tarragon and a little rosemary, very finely chopped
  • 50 gram butter, softened


Bread dough
  • 1
    Dissolve the sugar in the warm water and sprinkle the dried yeast on top. Set aside for 10 minutes to soften and become frothy.
  • 2
    Put the flours and salt into a large mixing bowl and stir to combine.
  • 3
    Rub in the lard or butter using your fingertips and make a well in the centre.
  • 4
    Pour the yeast mixture into the flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until well blended, adding a little more water if the mixture seems too dry. Knead on a floured board until you have a smooth and springy dough (or use the dough hook in an electric stand mixer).
  • 5
    Put the dough into an oiled bowl then turn dough over so that all surfaces are lightly oiled.
  • 6
    Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and leave on the bench overnight to rise.
Onion rolls
  • 7
    Preheat the oven to 220°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  • 8
    Cook onion gently in the butter with a pinch of salt. Use a heavy-based frying pan and cover it for the first 10 minutes, then remove cover and stir occasionally for 10 minutes. Don’t let them brown.
  • 9
    Put the cooked onion onto paper towels to cool and drain.
  • 10
    Take half of the risen dough and spread out on a floured board with your fingers. Keeping aside about 2 tablespoons of the onion for the topping, spread the rest over the dough and knead it in. The onion will be oily and reluctant at first, but persevere and after a minute or two the butter will be absorbed and the onion distributed throughout.
  • 11
    Cut the dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece between floured hands to make a cylinder about 20cm long, form it into a loose knot and place on the tray.
  • 12
    When all the rolls are formed, cover the tray with a cloth and leave to prove for about 1 hour.
  • 13
    Before baking, distribute the reserved onion over the tops of the rolls and bake them for about 15-20 minutes until golden-brown and with attractive dark shreds of onion on top. Cool on a rack and serve at room temperature.
Herb bread
  • 14
    Butter a 16cm x 9.5cm (at the base) loaf tin. Crush the garlic clove with a pinch of salt, and then mash the garlic and herbs into the butter.
  • 15
    Take the other half of the risen dough and pat it out on a floured board to make a rectangle about 1cm thick. The shorter side of the rectangle should be about 11cm long.
  • 16
    Leaving a 2cm margin all around the edges, spread the softened herb butter evenly over the dough. Roll it up into a cylinder from the short side, tuck in the ends and place the dough in the prepared tin with the join underneath.
  • 17
    Cover with a cloth and leave for about 1 hour in a warm place until the dough has almost reached the top of the tin.
  • 18
    Bake, with onion rolls, at 220°C for about 30 minutes until golden-brown. If they won’t all fit on the same shelf, put rolls on the upper rack, then move the loaf up when you take out the rolls.
  • 19
    Turn onto a rack to cool and slice when it reaches room temperature.


If you want to make the bread more quickly, use 3 tsp yeast. The dough will double in size if left in a warm place for 1-2 hours. However, the texture and flavour of the bread will not be as good as you achieve with a slow, overnight rise.

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