Thursday 23 May 2013

Fresh rolls on the griddle

GBYC sunset
I recently had a few bright moments. At least, I think I had. Those moments when you are overcome with a sudden surge of hate for the daily drudgery and just knowing that it is time for something else.

In this instance I had the idea of shaking off all the ingrained inhibitions of a blogger of carefully planning, inventing and preparing a dish. Reworking the recipe and so on.

Drudgery at its best.

We have a regular Wednesday night braai (barbecue for my overseas friends) at the local yacht club.  “We” being a circle of friends and fellow sailors. There we literally share the food. One piece of meat is cooked at a time, whether it be sausage or a well matured steak. This is then cut into bite size slices and dished out. Then the next piece of meat goes on the griddle. And so on. Rather like a very South African dry fondue, if you will.
Dough turned out to rest

The meat is accompanied by a piece of bread. I would like to use the word “slice,” but in this case a piece of the bread is literally broken off, rolled around the slice of meat and eaten just like that. Using your bare hands.

Of course, the other hand is holding a glass of some decent red wine. A wonderful occasion indeed.

Enter my bright moment. I decided to try an experiment. Baking dinner rolls on the griddle.

Now, there is nothing new about this concept, except that I have not done this before. I have made lots of cakes using self raising or normal flour, salt and water. No yeast.

“Twisters” I think the Aussies call them. Roll the dough into a snake, then roll the snake around a suitable stick and cook it over the fire. Remove from the stick, fill the hole with a sausage and you have a wonderful camp hot dog.

I used to made patties and put them directly on the griddle. Useful addition to your camp braai.

Dough roll cut into wheels

But on this occasion it was time for sticking my neck out a bit. Proper dinner rolls made with yeast, cooked on the fire, no oven in sight.

Although they came out perfect, there is a caveat. The heat needs to be controlled well, else you will end up with a roll that is well cooked to a nice tan colour outside, while being raw inside.

Part B of the problem lies in the shape of the roll. If it is too thick you may end up with same result as for too much heat. 
Wheels after second rise.

The message is very clear: Very low heat and rolls that resemble patties rather than rolls. Mine was just thick enough to be very difficult too cook. Bear in mind that you may end with nice fresh rolls that comes after the rest of the food has been consumed.

That is the third part of the caveat: You need to have these things cooked along with the rest of the food.

Of course, you can always just pop them in the oven before the time if you are at home. But the beauty of these lies in the fact that the final preparation is done in the presence of the guests.

The recipe is quite simple. I adapted a standard recipe from the multitude available on the internet. A baker friend taught me that any bread needs flour, salt, some oil or fat, some sugar, yeast and water. I added two eggs as well. Most of the dinner roll recipes have eggs in them.
Almost too thick for  cooking on the griddle


½ cup stone ground rye flour
½ cup white bread flour
2 cups stone ground brown bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 dessert spoons brown sugar
50 grams butter
2 large eggs
1½ cups lukewarm water
1 dessert spoon instant yeast. That is one sachet
Some cooking oil to seal the dough for rising.

This idea worked


Mix the dry ingredients, leaving out the yeast. Melt the butter and rub it into the flour mix. Now add the yeast. Add the beaten eggs and mix thoroughly. Add the water a little at a time and mix until you 
get a soft dough that does not stick to your hands.

The dough can now be turned out onto a kneading surface and kneaded for ten minutes. Not just until it is nice and elastic, like I used to. No sirree, the full ten minutes. Then you get proper gluten.

After this I patted the dough into a roll with hands wet with cooking oil to seal it, put it into my mixing bowl and popped it straight into the boot of my car to rise. The weather here is quite cool, so I parked the car in the sun and left the dough to rise for three hours. This is a bit long, but there was no harm done. The dough may have subsided a little due to the colder late afternoon air, but it was still more than double the original volume.

I patted down the dough ever so gently, then squashed it into a rectangle. The rectangle was loosely rolled up from the short side to make a dough roll. This was cut into wheels and left to rise for the second rise.

Here is where the second caveat kicks in. You need to cut the wheels on the thin side, so that they are just the right thickness after the second rise. Mine was on the edge of being too thick, so they rose magnificently and ended almost too thick too cook on the griddle.
This idea didn't

Allow half an hour for the second rise, then pop the rolls on the griddle. The heat must be minimal, especially in the beginning. This allows time for the heat to penetrate the roll so they can cook on the inside. Remember, this is on an open fire or coals.
After all this, with the other guests standing chafing at the bit, this batch came out superb.

A fluffy, elastic crumb and a crisp crust. And, of course, nothing beats the flavour of a roll fresh from the griddle!

Bon appetit!

Authored by Johan Zietsman

Last updated on 2013-05-24

This blog post also linked to Yeastspotting!


  1. These Wednesday nights must be a great way to be with friends and enjoy food. After all that's what food does brings people together. Your rolls look delicious!

  2. Thank you Ma'am.
    And the food does bring the people together!

  3. Ek is mal oor die rolletjies, en julle Woensdae kuiers klink al te heerlik!

    1. Dankie Zirkie!
      Dis nogal 'n lekker instelling, ja. En die rolletjies is nogal 'n lekker ding om te maak so tussen die braaiery deur. En die voorbereiding is nie 'n berg van werk nie, net tyd.
      Dankie vir die kommentaar!