If I’m serving sandwiches or buns to company, I love to dress them up a little if I can. Something that adds a wow factor and also makes the delicious food I make also beautiful!
Why You Need This Recipe
- Use your favorite cheese to dress up plain (but delicious!) fresh bread.
- Leftovers are amazing! These will keep well on the counter for a few days - if they last that long.
- I don't know about you, but I always seem to have so much sourdough I have to find uses for!
- Speaking of your starter, you can use it even if it's a little past it's prime for a loaf of bread. It will still work here.
A while back when we were having beef dip buns for a big family dinner, I covered the buns in cheese before baking and everyone just raved about them! The leftover buns into egg sandwiches the next day? Were definitely something to write home about!
I just want to say that if sourdough ain’t your thing? You can STILL enjoy these dinner rolls! Just make yourself a batch of Elaine’s Crustless Sandwich Bread, shape into rolls, and add cheese! Elaine's recipe will make 48 rolls, so you'll need more cheese than what's listed in this recipe.
Sourdough starter - your starter to make the pre-ferment needs to be fed somewhat recently, but it can be falling/needing to be fed. It doesnt need to be at optimal bread baking state.
All-purpose flour - no special flour needed here. Grab a bag at the store or pull out your grain mill if you want them partially wholewheat.
Milk - dairy or not, you just need liquid to get things moving.
Cheese - obviously I love to make my own cheese but you can very easily use whatever is in your fridge from the store.
How to Make Sourdough Cheese Buns
This is a longish recipe, so make sure to read the recipe card for all the details.
At least 8 hours, or up to 24, before you want to bake the final product, start your pre-ferment.
You can time this to then mix up your dough either 6ish hours before baking or let it also rest overnight again. But basically you are adding the flour to your preferment to make the dough, and giving it a quick knead to then let it rest until doubled (or overnight)
Punch down the dough to let it do its thing again. Yup, two raises before shaping. Let it double again.
Shape into about a 10x6" rectangle and cut into 24 rolls. I like to use a 9x13" glass dish for baking them to contain the cheese. Set the shaped buns into the pan.
Cover and now let the buns raise until nearly doubled. Then you can preheat your oven.
Shred up your cheese! Be generous when you sprinkle it on. Shake on some paprika and you are ready to bake.
Tips and Tricks
- I like a baking dish to ensure the cheese stays put and not on the bottom of the oven. This yields pull apart rolls with soft sides.
- Use a thermometer to know when your rolls are cooked through. Bread can be tricky and there's nothing worse than raw insides.
- Once cooled, you can store these in an airtight container on the counter for a few days.
These cheesy dinner rolls use whatever ingredients you have on hand.
Feel free to use cow's milk or almond milk, just use unsweetened plant varieties. You can even use water if you're in a pinch.
If your chickens are in their season of abundance, you can add those to the measuring cup before doling out the rest of the liquid.
Try out other herbs on top like some dried parsley or even a quick shake of ranch dressing mix.
I like to use a thermometer because the center of your bread should be about 190-200 F to ensure it's totally done. You can't always base it on the color of the buns, especially when they are covered with cheese.
A hard cheese like Asiago or Parmesan will hold its shape more and really be visible in shreds even once baked. You can definitely use cheddar or any other cheese you have on hand, just keep in mind that the more melty it is the more it may slide around to the edges of the pan. But that just makes it crispy!
Sourdough Cheese Buns
- ½ cup sourdough starter it needs to have doubled, but can be falling and needing to be fed, it does not need to be at 'optimal bread baking state'
- ½ cup warm water
- ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
- Pre-ferment from above
- 1 tablespoon butter, coconut oil or olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup milk
- 2 ¼ - 2 ¾ cup all purpose flour
- ¾ cup grated Asiago or cheddar or a blend
- Smoked paprika to taste
- Garlic powder to taste
- Mix the pre-ferment of sourdough starter, flour, and water up 8-24 hours before you want to bake. The longer beforehand, the more sour your end product will be. If I plan to mix the dough in the morning, I make it before bed. Cover with plastic wrap or a plastic bag and let sit on the counter.
To Make the Dough
- Melt butter, honey, and salt on low in a saucepan. When it's melted and combined, turn off the heat, add your milk, and stir to combine. With a thermometer or your finger, test the temperature of the mixture. By thermometer, it should be no more than 105 °F. By your finger...you should be able to comfortably hold it in for 10 seconds. If it's not this warm, turn the heat back on to warm it. If I use a heavy bottom pot, there is enough residual heat to heat the milk, if I use something like a thin enamel pot, there isn't.
- Add the warm liquid to your mixer (or bowl you plan to mix the dough in) and add your pre-ferment.
- Stir to combine; it's not going to combine super well until you start adding flour.
- Add your flour, starting on the low end, and mix the dough, adding more flour as needed just until it's combined, but not a cohesive, nice dough.
- Let sit 15-30 minutes, then knead the dough.
- This dough takes more kneading than most- my mixer kneads on low for 10 minutes, so if kneading by hand, you're going to knead about 10-15 minutes.
- If the dough sticks to the bowl or your hands, add a little more flour, but try not to add too much. It's not a stiff dough, it's on the softer side. Try wetting your hands/counter for kneading if it's sticking and you've already added a lot more flour.
Bake in One Day Method
- Cover your dough with plastic wrap or a plastic bag and let rise 2-3 hours until it looks like it's kind of doubled (don't overthink it, as long as it's 1.5'd its original size).
Overnight Method (see notes)
- Cover your dough with plastic wrap or a plastic bag and let sit overnight. It will be gigantic and beautiful in the morning.
For Either Method: Continue as Below
- Punch your dough down, give it a few kneads. Yes, you are letting it rise twice before shaping.
- Cover with plastic wrap or a plastic bag and let sit 2-3 hours until it's doubled. To test if your dough has doubled, dip your finger in flour and poke the dough. If the dough bounces back- it's got more to give and needs to keep rising. If the dough stays indented, it's given all it has to give and you can proceed.
To Shape Your Buns
- Punch down the dough, dump it onto a lightly floured counter. Flatten out into a roughly 10" x 6" rectangle. Cut into 24 portions.
- Shape the buns however you want, personally I prefer to choose the smoothest looking side up, and tuck the sides down under, pinching them together to make a cute little dough ball. Put the ball dough side down on a greased or lined pan. If you want pull apart buns, put the dinner buns in a 9×13 pan; they will pretty much be touching. If you want stand alone buns use a cookie sheet and space them farther.
- Cover and let rise 2-3 hours. If your house is REALLY cold, like below 60 °F turn your oven on for a minute or two. Tuck a cast iron pan in first to help retain heat. Turn oven off and put covered bread into oven.
- When it's doubled (don't forget to take buns out if they're in there!) preheat oven to 375 °F.
- Sprinkle cheese liberally all over the top, then follow up with a sprinkle of smoked paprika and garlic powder, to taste. Not only do they add flavour, they also add contrasting colour with the smoked paprika.
- Bake for 15 minutes, check internal temperature with an instant read thermometer – this is the best way to know when your buns are done, because you may have them a different size than mine and sourdough bakes longer than yeasted…underbaking is a very common problem. They should be 190 °F to 200 °F.
- OVERNIGHT TWEAKS - In my extensive testing of this recipe, I have found if you are doing an overnight rise, you can skip the autolyze rest before kneading AND skip the first punch down and rise. Just let mix, knead, let it rise, punch down and shape in the morning.
- EXCESS EGGS IN YOUR HOME?! You can swap ¼ cup of milk for an egg! Add the egg in step 3. It adds an awesome boost to your dough and when you've got extra eggs, why not?!
- NO HONEY? Use an equal part of maple syrup. You can also use double the amount in granulated sugar.