This recipe for Dark Dinner Rolls is similar to the ones we used to get at Steak and Ale, now closed. They didn’t taste at all like rye or pumpernickel. The fact that they were always served hot with softened butter made them taste even better. This is the way I remember them.
Instructions are written for a bread machine. If you don’t have one, see the notes for how to make these by hand or in a stand mixer.
Dark bread is mysterious to me. Names like pumpernickel and Russian rye don’t help.
The stronger flavors aren’t exactly what this midwest farmer’s daughter grew up eating in her lunch box. Bologna and pumpernickel?? Nope.
But in this recipe, there are no strange flours. No hard-to-find additives or flavoring. No rye. Not even whole wheat flour.
What is the secret ingredient that makes these rolls dark?
The dark color comes from a spoonful of cocoa. But don’t worry. They don’t taste like chocolate.
These oversized rolls remind me of dark loaves we used to get at Steak and Ale–the kind brought out on a wooden board with a serrated knife and garnished with whipped butter. You may find yourself looking for a white tablecloth and candles to complete the mood.
As with most of my bread recipes, these are baked in a conventional oven. The bread machine does the mixing, kneading, and proofing. All you have to do is form the rolls into a pretty shape and bake in a conventional oven.
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- 2/3 cup lukewarm water
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 2/3 cup unbleached bread flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa
- 2 1/4 t. instant yeast
- Add ingredients to a bread machine pan in order given. Set on the DOUGH cycle and press START.
- Stand by for the first 10-15 minutes of the cycle and check the dough. If too sticky, add 1 tablespoon flour at a time. Conversely, if too dry (dough slaps loudly against the side of pan) add 1 or more tablespoon(s) of water.
- When the dough cycle finishes and the dough has almost doubled in volume, remove it from the bread-machine pan to a floured board.
- Divide dough into 8 pieces and form into oval rolls.
- Place on cookie sheet, cover loosely with a tea towel and allow to rise until almost double in a warm place. Use a serrated knife or kitchen shears to make a slash through the middle.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Bake rolls for approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Their dark color makes these rolls somewhat difficult to assess for doneness. Either look at the bottom for browning or check internal temperature which should be close to 190 degrees F. Serve with butter.
Alternate Mixing Instructions:
Directions for making bread with a stand mixer or by hand:
- To make this recipe in a heavy-duty stand mixer, add ingredients to the bowl in the same order. Turn on low to mix until all ingredients are moistened. Using a dough hook, turn speed to 2 or 3 and continue beating/kneading until dough becomes smooth and elastic (about 5-10 minutes). Cover and allow to rise in a warm place. Deflate dough gently and shape as indicated in the recipe.
- If making by hand, combine all ingredients into a shaggy ball in a large bowl. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead with your hands until dough becomes smooth and elastic, a process that will likely take 10-20 minutes depending on your experience. Place the dough ball into a greased bowl. Cover and allow to rise until double. Deflate dough gently and shape as indicated in the recipe.
How to substitute active dry yeast for bread-machine yeast or instant yeast:
If you substitute regular yeast for instant or bread-machine yeast, you must dissolve it first before adding to the dry ingredients. Stir it into about 1/4 cup of the lukewarm liquid called for in the recipe. Let sit for about 10 minutes. Add to other wet ingredients and then add dry ingredients. Proceed as directed to knead and shape the dough.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 servings Serving Size: 1 roll
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 271Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 334mgCarbohydrates: 50gFiber: 4gSugar: 10gProtein: 8g