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Twisted Onion Rolls

October 2, 2011

twisted onion rollstwisted onion rolls

The Freds recently decided it was time to paint a wall in our home. We got a new couch that was quite close in color to our creamy walls so we decided to paint the wall directly behind it a dark blue. So, being obsessive compulsive, we took a picture of the space and uploaded it to the Sherwin Williams color finder app, which allows you to color in an uploaded picture with their paint colors to see how it will look. After much debate, we finally  settled on a beautiful navy and made our way to Home Depot to pick up a gallon for the project.

Well, apparently Home Depot does not sell Sherwin Williams paint. Apparently, Sherwin Williams has its own retail stores where all they sell is Sherwin William paint. And apparently, the other Fred knew this and failed to mention it throughout the process up until the moment I was standing in the paint section wondering aloud where to find the Sherwin Williams color samples to give to the paint mixing gentleman. Hmmmphh! So, upon this revelation and a quick search to determine that we were nowhere near one of these Sherwin Williams retail outlets, we decided to find a similar color of Behr paint to the one we’d decided upon earlier. Again, being obsessive compulsive, we hemmed and hawed for a good twenty minutes before deciding on a shade that seemed just right. Not too light, not too dark, not too green, not too purple.


When we arrived home, I put the paint down to get our rollers and trays out of the basement, walking through the dining room to do so. And then I stopped. “Freddy” I called out, “this new paint looks really similar to the color in our dining room.” But Fred assured me that while they looked similar, the one for the living room was darker and bluer and I would see this once it was on a large swath of wall. It would compliment the dining room paint. Well, since you probably already know where this is going, I’ll cut to the chase. In the basement I found the lid to the gallon of paint we’d used on the dining room a year earlier, and sure enough of all the colors of paint, it was the exact same color we’d just picked out!

twisted onion rolls dough batter

This story is to illustrate the sometimes comical, sometimes crippling particularity of the Freds. We have the habit of forming habits and sticking with them. One of these habits is our division of labor in the kitchen. This Fred makes fillings, the other Fred makes doughs (yes, yes, I do call him the dough boy while poking his stomach). But this week I had a chance to break this habit by accidentally committing to bringing a bread product to a Rosh Hashana potluck forgetting that our schedule was such that the dough boy would not be able to help! So, I made a go of these onion rolls, trying to put out of my mind the last time I made a similar bread product (one guest tactfully called that challah “very unique and a bit… fizzy”). And in the end this experiment went much better than that fated prior challah attempt. Some people even called these delicious. Perhaps it’s never too late to change…

twisted onion rolls

Twisted Onion Rolls

(makes 12 twisted rolls or 8 sandwich bun style rolls)

If you want a pretty roll to serve with dinner or as a snack, I would twist these when forming them, however, if you want something with a bit more volume that can be sliced for sandwiches, stick with coiling more than twisting when shaping them (read on and this will make sense).


1 medium onion, quartered and thinly sliced

1 Tbs olive oil

2 3/4 cups flour

2 Tbs instant yeast

3/4 tsp salt

2 Tbs sugar

1 egg

1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 cup milk, lukewarm

1 tsp poppy seeds (optional)

olive oil to brush rolls

1 egg for egg wash


Toss the sliced onion with a tablespoon of olive oil and roast at 375F for 20-25 minutes until the onion is slightly dried and some edges have begun to brown (but not burn).  Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, combine your dry ingredients (flour, yeast, salt, sugar) in a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. Add the wet ingredients (butter, milk, 1 egg) and mix for one minute to combine, and then for an additional 6 minutes on medium low.  While it’s mixing note the texture: the dough should be smooth and elastic and should start to clear the sides of the mixing bowl toward the end of the 6 minutes. You may add up to 1/4 cup more flour if necessary if the dough is too sticky, but note that this dough will be much wetter than most standard bread doughs. Once you’ve reached your desired dough texture, mix in the poppy seeds and cooled onion mixture until just combined.

Allow to rise in warm spot for 20-30 minutes, until doubled.

To form your rolls, divide the dough (into 12 portions for twists, 8 for bulky rolls) with a dough scraper or knife.  Stretch each portion into a rope about 10 inches long, twisting as you go if making twisted rolls.  Brush lightly with olive oil, being careful not to deflate the dough with too heavy a hand. Then, coil the dough rope such that you achieve a rounded cone shape, tucking both the top and bottom end pieces in and under the rest of the dough (see pictures above, this is hard to describe!).  Place the rolls widely apart on two oiled baking sheets and allow to rise undisturbed in warm spot for 20-30 minutes. The rolls will puff out significantly during this time. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the egg with one teaspoon water. Brush the risen rolls gently with this egg wash.

Bake at 350F for 20 minutes, until golden brown and done through.  Remove from pans immediately and cool on a wire rack.

twisted onion rolls

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