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Herbed Fontina Rolls with Marinara Sauce

Herbed Fontina Rolls with Marinara Sauce
Perfect for sharing and packed with melty fontina cheese and a quartet of aromatic herbs, these yeasted potato rolls will chase away even the coldest of winter chills. Fluffy, buttery, and savory but with a touch of sweet from honey, they make for a fun appetizer or side for your holiday spread.
Yield 23 rolls




  • 3 to 3 1/4 cups (381 to 413g) bread flour, divided
  • 3 tablespoons (6g) finely chopped fresh basil, divided
  • 1 (0.25oz) package (7g) or 2 1/4 teaspoons Red Star Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons (5.25g) kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon (2g) garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme, divided
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano, divided
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary, divided
  • 1/2 cup (120g) plus 1 tablespoon (15g) whole milk, divided
  • 10 tablespoons (140g) unsalted butter, softened and divided
  • 1/2 cup (122g) plain, cooked, and mashed potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons (63g) honey
  • 2 large eggs (100g, divided)
  • 5 3/4 ounces (161g) fontina cheese

Marinara Sauce

  • Makes 1½ cups
  • 1 tablespoon (14g) olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic (30 grams, minced)
  • 1 tablespoon (15g) tomato paste
  • 1 (15oz) can (425g) crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons (4g) chopped fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons (14g) honey
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons (3.75g) kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (1g) ground black pepper


  • Flaked sea salt
  • Crushed red pepper


  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine 1 cup (127g) flour, 2 tablespoons (4g) basil, yeast, kosher salt, garlic powder, 1 teaspoon thyme, 1 teaspoon oregano, and 1 teaspoon rosemary until well combined.
  • In a medium saucepan, combine 1/2 cup (120g) milk and 6 tablespoons (84g) butter; cook over medium heat until butter is melted and an instant-read thermometer registers 120°F (49°C) to 130°F (54°C). Add milk mixture to flour mixture; beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Add potatoes, honey, and 1 egg (50g); beat at medium-high speed for 2 minutes. With mixer on medium-low speed, gradually add 2 cups (254g) flour, beating just until combined.
  • Switch to the dough hook attachment; beat at medium-low speed for 4 to 6 minutes, adding up to remaining 1/4 cup (32g) flour, 1 tablespoon (8g) at a time, until a smooth, elastic dough forms. (Dough should pass the windowpane test [see Note]; scrape sides of bowl and dough hook as needed.)
  • Spray a large bowl with cooking spray; place dough in bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, 40 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut cheese into 0.25-ounce (7g) cubes.
  • Punch down dough. Turn out dough, and divide into 23 portions (about 35g); cover with a piece of plastic wrap. (You should not need much additional flour, if any.) Flatten 1 piece of dough, and place 1 cheese cube in center; pinch dough closed, and gently shape into a ball, pressing together any seams, if needed. Repeat with remaining dough. Place balls, seam side down, on prepared pan in a Christmas tree shape, starting with 2 balls for the trunk and 6 balls for the first row; reduce each following row by 1 ball, leaving a ¼-inch gap between each. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, 40 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
  • In a small bowl, whisk together remaining 1 egg (50g) and remaining 1 tablespoon (15g) milk; brush onto rolls.
  • Bake until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 190°F (88°C), 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Make marinara sauce: In a small saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and tomato paste; cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in basil, honey, salt, and pepper.
  • In a small bowl, stir together remaining 4 tablespoons (56g) butter, remaining 1 tablespoon (2g) basil, remaining 1 teaspoon thyme, remaining 1 teaspoon oregano, and remaining 1 teaspoon rosemary. Brush herb butter onto rolls. Serve warm with Marinara Sauce. Garnish with sea salt and crushed red pepper, if desired.


Note: Test the dough for proper gluten development using the windowpane test. Pinch off (don’t tear) a small piece of dough. Slowly pull the dough out from the center. If the dough is ready, you will be able to stretch it until it’s thin and translucent like a windowpane. If the dough tears, it’s not quite ready. Beat for 1 minute more, and test again.
Recipe by Bake From Scratch.

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Review & Comments

Lee | Reply

Can I make it Gluten-free?

Red Star Yeast | Reply

Hi Lee,

It has not been tested but I think you could try by using a Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour and substituting for the bread flour.

Happy Baking!

Kym | Reply

Can you please give help me with make ahead instructions, as I would like to have it ready to go in to the oven on Christmas day.

Red Star Yeast | Reply

Hi Kym – I would recommend par-baking the rolls the night before, then finish the baking on Christmas day. You can find par-baking guidelines here.
Happy baking!

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