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
For the Rolls:
  • 3 to 3¼ cups (381 to 413 grams) bread flour, divided
  • 3 tablespoons (6 grams) finely chopped fresh basil, divided
  • 1 (0.25-ounce) package (7 grams) RED STAR Active Dry Yeast
  • 1¾ teaspoons (5.25 grams) kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon (2 grams) garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme, divided
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano, divided
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary, divided
  • ½ cup (120 grams) plus 1 tablespoon (15 grams) whole milk, divided
  • 10 tablespoons (140 grams) unsalted butter, softened and divided
  • ½ cup (122 grams) plain, cooked, and mashed potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons (63 grams) honey
  • 2 large eggs (100 grams), divided
  • 5.75 ounces (161 grams) fontina cheese
For the Marinara Sauce (for serving):
  • Makes 1½ cups
  • 1 tablespoon (14 grams) olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic (30 grams), minced
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) tomato paste
  • 1 (15-ounce) can (425 grams) crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons (4 grams) chopped fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons (14 grams) honey
  • 1¼ teaspoons (3.75 grams) kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon (1 gram) ground black pepper
For the Garnish
  • Flaked sea salt
  • Crushed red pepper
  1. Step 1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine 1 cup (127 grams) flour, 2 tablespoons (4 grams) basil, yeast, kosher salt, garlic powder, 1 teaspoon thyme, 1 teaspoon oregano, and 1 teaspoon rosemary until well combined.

  2. Step 2. In a medium saucepan, combine ½ cup (120 grams) milk and 6 tablespoons (84 grams) 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 (50 grams); beat at medium-high speed for 2 minutes. With mixer on medium-low speed, gradually add 2 cups (254 grams) flour, beating just until combined.

  3. Step 3. Switch to the dough hook attachment; beat at medium-low speed for 4 to 6 minutes, adding up to remaining ¼ cup (32 grams) flour, 1 tablespoon (8 grams) 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.)

  4. Step 4. 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.

  5. Step 5. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut cheese into 0.25-ounce (7-gram) cubes.

  6. Step 6. Punch down dough. Turn out dough, and divide into 23 portions (about 35 grams); 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.

  7. Step 7. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).

  8. Step 8. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining 1 egg (50 grams) and remaining 1 tablespoon (15 grams) milk; brush onto rolls.

  9. Step 9. Bake until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 190°F (88°C), 15 to 20 minutes.

  10. Step 10. 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.

  11. Step 11. In a small bowl, stir together remaining 4 tablespoons (56 grams) butter, remaining 1 tablespoon (2 grams) 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.

  12. Recipe in partnership with Bake From Scratch.
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.

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