Basic Pastry Dough I

Need a good breakfast roll (or teatime, coffeetime, or anytime roll) for your holiday guests? Or just you, because you’re great? Look no further than some tasty pastries!

This is one of my go-to pastry doughs for just about any filled roll I make. It comes together easily and makes a beautifully soft, fluffy dough that I almost feel bad for punching when it rises. (Almost.) It’s also very simple to customize into different shapes and with different fillings – I’ve used it for everything from cinnamon rolls to an-pan (Japanese bean paste rolls – here’s a good recipe for the filling), as well as simple glazed rolls. The final result is pillowy yet just a bit flaky, and very, very lightly sweet.

A few things I’ve learned about pastry dough, this one in particular:

  1. Don’t skip the resting. It’s tempting, especially when you’re pressed for time. Will the dough be ruined if you skip the rest? No. However, this step allows the dough to absorb the flour and makes it easier to knead, as well as prevents you from adding too much flour in the kneading step.
  2. Don’t skip that final rise. Again, the dough won’t be ruined if you just pop it into the oven, but the rolls will not be as fluffy, big, and beautiful if you’ll just be patient and let them sit for 30-45 minutes before baking.
  3. Use all-purpose flour. Pastry flour doesn’t roll out in this recipe well, in my experience – it just kinda…falls apart.
  4. Make sure everything is warm, or at least room temperature. Nothing more (un)fun than trying to roll dough with hard butter. Don’t do it.

I think that’s about it. And now I think…

that we’re ready…

…to roll.

I’ll show myself out. Here’s the recipe.

Pastry Roll Dough 1

  • Servings: 24-30 rolls
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Fill these with a number of fillings - almond paste, cinnamon and sugar, honey, jam or marmalade - whatever your heart desires. You can also just make them into rolls and leave them as is, or make individual stuffed rolls. Variations below.

you will need:

  • 4 ½ tsp dried yeast
  • ½ c warm water
  • 1 ½ c whole milk, warmed
  • ½ c softened butter
  • ½ c sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 5 ½ – 6 ½ c all-purpose flour
  • desired filling


  1. In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm water, and allow to bloom for 5 minutes. Stir in milk, butter, sugar, salt, and eggs, and mix well.
  2. Add the flour, 1 cup at a time, beating well with each addition, until the mixture cannot readily absorb more flour and it becomes hard to stir. Cover with a cloth and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
  3. If hand-kneading, turn dough out onto a lightly-floured countertop, and knead dough until smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes, adding just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking. (A bench scraper is your friend here.) You can also knead the dough in your mixer using a dough hook, adding just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the bowl. Grease a large clean bowl, form the dough into a smooth ball, and place the dough into the greased bowl, smooth side up. Cover with a cloth and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 to 1 ½ hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.
  4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured or greased surface. When I shape any rolls, I prefer to cut the dough in half so it’s easier to work with and make even pieces.
  5. For filled rolls (such as cinnamon rolls): Split dough into two even pieces. Roll one piece of dough out into a rectangle about 18 inches long and 8-10 inches wide. Spread desired filling evenly onto the dough, leaving about 1 inch of space on the edges. Roll the dough from the long edge so you’re left with a long spiraled log. Cut the dough into 12 even pieces (I cut from the middle, then cut those pieces in half, then cut those pieces into 3 even pieces) and place onto a lined baking sheet or in a greased muffin tin. Repeat with remaining dough, using desired filling. Cover and allow to rise until doubled, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  6. For buns or filled buns: Split dough into two even pieces. Roll out one piece of the dough into long ropes (about 24 inches) and cut into 12 even pieces. Shape the dough pieces into smooth balls and place onto a lined baking sheet or greased muffin tin. Repeat with remaining dough. If you want to fill the buns, for each bun, roll the dough piece into a flat circle, fill with desired filling (about a tablespoon at most), and pinch the dough around the filling to close. Be sure to place filled buns seam-side down on your baking pan. Cover and allow to rise until doubled, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  7. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake for 10 minutes until golden. Cool on wire racks. If you’re glazing, allow to cool for a few minutes, then spread glaze on rolls while they’re still warm.
  8. Variations and Additions

    Vanilla or Almond Glaze: Whisk together 1 c sifted powdered sugar with 1 tsp of vanilla extract. Add milk or water, 1 tsp at a time, until the glaze reaches your desired consistency. I like mine just barely pourable, but you can keep it as thick or thin as you want. For almond glaze, replace the vanilla extract with ½ tsp almond extract or 1 tablespoon amaretto.

    Cinnamon Rolls: To fill your rolls with a light, tasty cinnamon filling, spread ¼ c very soft (not melted, but close) butter onto each dough rectangle. Sprinkle about ¼-½ c white sugar and 1-2 tablespoons ground cinnamon on top of the butter. Top with Vanilla Glaze and more cinnamon, if desired.

    Almond (Marzipan) Rolls: Mix together 1 c almond paste, ¼ c softened butter, 1 egg, 1 tsp vanilla, and ½ tsp almond extract or 1 tsp amaretto. Spread evenly onto each dough rectangle. Top with Almond Glaze and toasted chopped or sliced almonds, if desired.

    Honey Nut Rolls: Mix together ½ c softened butter with ¼ c honey. Spread half of the honey-butter mixture onto each dough rectangle, then sprinkle with about ¼-½ c finely chopped nuts of your choice. Top with warmed honey or Vanilla Glaze.

    An-Pan (Japanese Red Bean Paste Buns): With the filled rolls variation, fill each roll with about 1 tablespoon of sweetened red bean paste. (You can buy this pre-made at Asian grocery stores, or make your own – see post above.) Before baking, brush rolls with an egg white egg wash (1 egg white mixed with 1 tsp of water) and sprinkle with black sesame seeds.

    Jelly Rolls: Not to be confused with a jelly roll cake – these are just rolls filled with your jam or marmalade of choice. Spread about ¼-½ c of your favorite jam, jelly, or preserve into each dough rectangle before baking.

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