Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bulgar Rolls

If there is one bread recipe that I could call my specialty, bulgar rolls would be the one. I've made thousands of these rolls through the years, including several hundred for our wedding. I don't have to ask what to bring to family Christmas gatherings since I'm usually asked to bring these rolls.

We love the slightly nutty taste and texture that the bulgar adds. Bulgar is a cracked wheat that you can find at a bulk foods store. If you don't have bulgar, substitute oatmeal. Steel cut oats will give a similar texture, but rolled or quick oats work too.

First cook the bulgar with butter and water until it is soft. I usually just bring the water to boil, then turn off the stove and allow it to sit and absorb the water.  Let this cook before adding it to the dough. You do not want to kill the yeast with too much heat. You can use bulgar raw, but it is rather hard and I think it feels like hitting a stone in your roll.

You can shape these rolls any way you wish. When making dozens of rolls, I find that rolling the dough out with a rolling pin and cutting with a biscuit cutter is the easiest method. I place them on a greased baking sheet to rise and bake.

Bulgar Rolls

2 cup water
1/2 cup bulgar (or oatmeal)
3 T butter
1 T yeast
1 1/3 cup warm water or milk
1/3 cup brown sugar (or 1/4 cup honey)
2 tsp salt
1 egg
6 cups flour (may use white or a white/whole wheat mix)

Cook the bulgar in 2 cups of water and the butter. Cool until lukewarm.

Dissolve yeast in 1 1/3 cup warm water or milk.

Mix sugar, salt, egg, flour, bulgar mixture, and yeast mixture. Mix well.

Allow dough to rest for fifteen minutes. Add more flour if needed to make a soft dough.The dough should be soft and slightly tacky, but not sticky.

Knead dough for 5 to 10 minutes by hand or by machine, until a smooth ball. Place dough in a greased bowl and allow to rise for one hour or until double. Punch dough down. Rest for 10 minutes. Shape into rolls. Rise for 45 minutes or until double. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Note: I always double this recipe in my large Bosch mixer and machine knead the dough. It makes quite a few rolls but they freeze well. I usually replace at least half of the flour with whole wheat flour and often add a tablespoon or two of vital gluten.

Edit in February 2015: I was making these rolls this Christmas for a gathering and without thinking, I used all freshly ground whole wheat flour. This was the first time I used all whole wheat flour - especially since I often make these for guests - but they turned out wonderfully. And everyone enjoyed them very much. When using whole wheat flour, just be careful not to add too much flour. Whole wheat flour absorbs more moisture and can make your dough too dry.

For other favorite roll recipes see cornmeal rolls and sandwich buns.


  1. Hello,
    Thankyou for the series that you are doing on bread. I already made miracle bread and our family enjoyed it tremendously. I have a question. What is a vital gluten? where do I get it from? I am very new at bread making. Is it necessary to add vital gluten when I use wheat flour?
    Thank you again.

  2. Jen -
    Vital gluten is not necessary. I sometimes add it when I use whole grain flours to give it a better texture and help it raise better. You can find it with the flours in larger grocery stores or order online. I wrote about it here.

  3. Gina,
    I'm enjoying your latest bread posts, and learning some things at the same time! I'm curious if you've ever made your own bulgar. It's a rather easy process, just takes some time. It involves soaking the wheat berries until they sprout, drying them (in the oven), and then putting them through a food processor. I used to make it to add to my buttermilk yeasted bread instead of using white flour, but I haven't done it for a long time. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Karen -
    I've never attempted to make my own bulgar - but maybe I should give it a try!

  5. Hi Gina- these look good and I'm always looking for another way to use bulgar other than tabbouleh!

    One question (though I should probably just look it up...)- how long does it usually take for the bulgar to become soft when it's boiled? For tabbouleh, it just usually sits in hot water for awhile, but I don't boil it.

    An Oregon Cottage

  6. Jami -
    It really doesn't take long, but I can't say that I've ever really timed it. I should pay better attention next time. I would guess only a few minutes.

  7. Thanks for the recipe. I usually am requested to bring rolls too, but I haven't settled on a recipe I love yet. I'm going to try yours next time!

  8. Thank you for a wonderful recipe. I make a recipe that is very similar to this one but I was drawn to yours because it uses less butter. With the rising price of butter I am all about saving butter when I can :) We really enjoyed these rolls and I can't tell much difference from the ones I usually make. That is a good thing, I'm glad I can get away with using less butter and still have an awesome roll!


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