Learn how to make semolina rolls with sesame seeds from scratch. Soft and fluffy on the inside, these rolls can be filled with whatever you like or even enjoyed plain!
How to make Semolina Rolls: Overview
- Prepare the dough: Mix all the ingredients and knead the dough.
- First rise: Transfer to a greased bowl, cover and let it rise until doubled in volume (about 1 1/2 to 2 hours).
- Shape the dough: Punch down the dough then divide into 10 equal pieces. Shape the rolls.
- Second rise: Cover and let rise for about 45 minutes, until puffy.
- Bake the rolls: Bake until golden.
- Semolina flour: You’ll need fine (not coarse) semolina for this recipe. Semolina contains a large amount of protein (12-15%) which will give a nice chewiness to the rolls. Semolina flour will also contribute to the subtle nutty flavor and yellow color of the rolls.
- All-purpose flour: I like to use a little bit of all-purpose flour in combination with the semolina flour for a lighter and fluffier result. If you use only semolina flour, the rolls will be more dense. You can play around with the proportions used, if you like, to suit your preference. You can find a visual in the next section.
- Yeast: We’ll be using instant yeast in this recipe, so it can easily be mixed with the other ingredients. Make sure the yeast isn’t expired before using it or your rolls might not rise properly.
- Sugar: Just a little bit of sugar, for sweetness, color and to boost the yeast.
- Salt: For flavor.
- Liquid: I like to use milk, for richness, flavor and a nice golden color. You can easily replace it with water. The rolls will be lighter in color. If you’d like them to be golden, you can brush them with a little bit of egg wash. I use room temperature liquid in this recipe, for convenience. You can use lukewarm milk/water (43°C/110°F) if you’d like to shorten the rise time.
I tested two ingredients when making the 3 rolls pictured below: the flour used and the liquid used.
Bottom roll: This roll was made using only semolina flour (no all-purpose flour) and water as the liquid. The rolls were chewy and slightly dense.
Middle roll: Made with all-purpose flour and water, this roll was lighter than the one made with semolina flour. It was also a bit blander and lacked “character”.
Top roll: Our favorite roll, found in the recipe card below. This roll was made using a combination of semolina flour and all-purpose flour with milk as the liquid. The crumb was soft, fluffy and the roll had a nice golden color.
Prepare the dough
- Place the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Cover the yeast with the semolina flour and all-purpose flour then add the sugar and salt. The yeast shouldn’t come in direct contact with the sugar or salt which is why we cover it first.
- Briefly mix all the ingredients together with a wooden spoon (or spatula) so that the yeast is evenly distributed. If you skip this step, you might end up with lumps of yeast when you add the liquid.
- Pour the milk/water over the dry ingredients. Start mixing the ingredients with the spoon until combined. The dough will look quite wet but will firm up when you mix it.
- Place the bowl on the stand mixer, fitted with the hook attachment. Mix on low speed until the dough becomes smooth, elastic and pulls away from the sides of the bowl (about 5 minutes). The dough will be firm but quite sticky at this point. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally, if needed.
How to determine if the dough is elastic? Lightly oil your fingers and try gently stretching a small piece of dough. If it immediately tears, keep mixing the dough a bit longer and test again. As the gluten network gets stronger, the dough will become more elastic and won’t rip when stretched. Note that if you overmix the dough, it will start to tear again.
Consistency of the dough after kneading/mixing: The dough will be sticky but easy to hold with lightly oiled hands. If you’ve been kneading it for a long time and it feels very wet, try adding a little bit of flour. If on the other hand, the dough looks dry, add a little bit of liquid (milk/water).
- Lightly grease a large bowl with oil. Transfer the dough into the bowl (using the wooden spoon or lightly oiled hands) and turn it around to coat it in oil. Shape into a ball by tucking the sides towards the bottom. Place back in the bowl then cover with plastic wrap (or a clean kitchen towel). Let it rise for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until double in size. This might take more or less, depending on how hot your kitchen is, how cold the liquid was etc. If your kitchen is very cold, place the dough near a heater, or in a turned off oven with the light on. If your kitchen is too warm, try finding a cooler spot in the house. The ideal temperature is around 25°C (77°F).
Shape the rolls
- Gently punch down the dough to deflate it. Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces, about 51 g (1.8 oz.) each. You can use a dough scraper to portion the dough.
Want to know why you should punch the dough? Find out in the pain au lait post.
- Shape each piece into a smooth ball and place on a non-stick baking sheet (or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper). If you find the dough too sticky, you can lightly oil your hands (or use a little bit of flour). Note: Keep the other pieces covered so they don’t dry out. King Arthur baking company has a nice video on how to shape rolls if you’re interested.
- Cover with plastic wrap (or parchment paper, kitchen towel). Let it rise until puffy, about 45 minutes.
Bake the rolls
- Place the oven rack in the middle of the oven. About 15 minutes before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 190°C (374°F, conventional setting).
- Uncover the rolls and sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired. If the sesame seeds don’t stick, brush the rolls with milk or melted butter first.
- Bake the rolls for about 15 minutes or until golden. If using water instead of milk, the rolls will be very lightly golden. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before serving.