Sage onion rolls are perfect for your holiday table. They are filled with a savory red onion mixture and adorned with fresh sage leaves, making them as pretty as they are tasty.
Bread is Life
I opened the kitchen door to our house and the heady scent of yeast met me as soon as I crossed the threshold. That is an unmistakable scent. It stopped me in my tracks, book bag still slung across my shoulder. A smell I would soon start to look forward to. Anticipation of very good things to come. I came to appreciate the vast difference between store-bought bread and bread that had been brought to life in the gathering place of my home. Yeast fermenting, bubbling away in a bowl set aside waiting to be introduced to a snowy pile of flour.
Learning to bake bread
We were starting our “bread” module in culinary school, I walked into the room and could hardly wait to get started. There is something about the cool, smooth texture of bread dough that always makes me happy. Rolling your shoulders forward and really kneading it; pushing with the heel of your hand and pulling it back toward you, feeling the dough come to life and slowly begin to change. It transforms beneath your hands from a sticky mess into a beautiful, almost silky, elastic dough.
My first restaurant job was as a “garde manger”, which literally translates as keeper of the food. It is a bottom-of-the-food-chain position where most culinary graduates begin. In addition to the hot and cold appetizers, soup and desserts, I was also tasked with making rolls. In time it became my moment of peace in a whirlwind of chaotic activity. Servers running from one place to the next, polishing forks and knives; line cooks taking stairs two by two trying to make their way from the walk-in cooler in the basement back upstairs into the kitchen to finish prepping for service; the clanging of pots and pans as dishwashers set clean ones at each of our stations. Those few minutes kneading dough became the only moments of peace I would have for the next 10 hours.
The basics of bread
It has life. It gives life. We break bread. A communal table. Sharing a meal. It even gets a mention in a prayer many of us learned as children: “Give us this day our Daily Bread”… Bread is an integral part of our existence. Not just ours, but everyone… It is one of the oldest foods and nearly every culture around the globe has some variation of it.
Bread sopping up the last bit of gravy or marinara on the plate, dunked into a bowl of soup just long enough for it to absorb the broth, the basket of rolls and butter brought to the table at your favorite restaurant, two pieces filled with various ingredients find their way into countless lunch boxes every day.
Flour, water, yeast, salt. The basics of bread. There is something so very therapeutic about the process. Combining the simplest of ingredients and patiently (which has never been my strong suit) waiting for the yeast to spring to life and do its job. The puffed up dough, in all its glory is slid into the oven filling the kitchen with that familiar smell of home.
Sage Onion Rolls
These onion rolls are perfect for your holiday table. They are easy enough for a beginner and yet even a seasoned baker will enjoy making them. They aren’t difficult to put together, but they do require a bit of patience.
Onion Roll Variations
This is a consistently good onion roll, with room for plenty of variations. You could skip the filling altogether if you like, but I quite enjoy the surprise of that delicious onion filling. Here are a few other fillings to consider:
- olive and rosemary
- fennel and dill
- 6 tbsp. warm water, about 100 degrees
- 8 tbsp. room temperature water
- 3/4 ounce compressed yeast
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 1 1/4 tsp. salt
- 3 - 4 egg yolks
- 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 18 ounces bread flour
- 1 red onion, small dice (1/4" pieces)
- 5 leaves of fresh sage, finely chopped + 12 whole (small) for garnish
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- salt & pepper
- egg wash: 1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp. water
- Place warm water into bowl and whisk in yeast. Set aside.
- Place room temperature water into bowl of stand mixer, stir in sugar and salt. Whisk in yolks and oil. Add flour, pour in yeast mixture and mix until smooth and elastic, about 12 - 15 mins.
- Cover and let rise until doubled in size (about 1 hour)
- While dough is rising, heat olive oil in sauté pan and cook onion until just beginning to caramelize. Add sage, stir to combine. Season with salt & pepper and set aside to cool.
- When dough has doubled in size, punch down and divide into 12 equal pieces. On a well-floured surface, roll each piece into a square approximately 3" x 3". (Mine are never perfectly square)
- Brush with egg wash, place approximately 1 tablespoon of filling in the center and fold over to form a triangle. Press to seal and remove air inside (like you would when making ravioli)
- Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, brush egg wash on top and place a small sage leaf in the center of roll (optional). Lightly brush sage leaf with egg wash to adhere to bread.
- Let rise until almost doubled in size. Bake at 375 for 18 - 20 minutes.
These rolls are best the same day they are baked.
Adapted from CIA Professional Chef
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What can I serve with these Sage Onion Rolls?