296: Zucchini Yeast Rolls

At some point during the summer when I was looking for zucchini recipes, I came across Zucchini Yeast Rolls. I thought it sounded like something interesting to do to make bread. Since it was finally cooler weather, I decided to go ahead and make them with some zucchini I had shredded and stored in the freezer.

I’d read this recipe a few times as I tried to figure out when I wanted to make it. It sounds like the original recipe had a few issues with it, namely that the dough was incredibly sticky and the author had to add nearly twice as much flour to the dough. To try to get less liquid in my dough, I squeezed some excess water from my zucchini as I thawed it.

Often when I write about recipes, I say things like “this came together quickly” or “this was easy to make.” I always mean these in a relative sense. For instance, I’ll write “this dough came together quickly,” but that’s always quickly for dough. It means that everything went according to the instructions in the recipe. I try to keep in mind whether it was easy because I used a stand mixer, and whether it would still be that easy if I mixed and kneaded the dough by hand.

This dough was not easy to mix together, no matter how you tried it.

I used 2 cups of finely shredded/grated zucchini in this. I mixed together some dry ingredients (including whole wheat flour, and 1 cup of the bread flour) while I heated the wet ones, and then combined them in the stand mixer. I gradually added the remaining bread flour to the dough. It was still very sticky, and kept climbing up the dough hook on the mixer, so I added more flour, little by little. The maximum amount of flour added to the liquidy dough in the original recipe was 2.5 cups, but I added about 4.

My stand mixer started to sound unhappy, but I still wasn’t happy with the state of the dough. It wasn’t particularly elastic, and it didn’t windowpane very well. I turned it out of the mixer and kneaded it some by hand. I’ve worked with dough that was more difficult, but I also had better form kneading this time. After a little while (I can’t estimate how much time elapsed), I decided that it was good enough. The dough was smoother than it had been, and didn’t tear when I tried to windowpane it.

After letting the dough rest for a little while (probably about 20 minutes while I ate dinner), I tore it into 2.5 ounce balls. The link to the recipe also has instructions on how to par-bake and freeze the dough, which was part of the appeal of making this recipe as well, so I froze some balls of dough and placed the others on baking sheets to rise. I heated the oven for a minute, shut it off, and placed the baking sheets in there to let the dough rise for 2 hours.

I preheated the oven and brushed the rolls with milk. I baked one batch of them 15 minutes, so that I could freeze them and bake them another 10 minutes later when we want to eat them. The other sheet of rolls baked for 25 minutes.

Par-baked Zucchini Yeast Rolls

They were decent when fresh and warm. It was a slightly sweet bread (which makes sense from the amount of sugar that went into it). It was soft but chewy. It did taste a little different than regular bread, but not so distinctive that you couldn’t eat it like regular bread or rolls. It was a lot of fun to see flecks of green in the rolls.

Honestly, I didn’t like the leftovers very much. They didn’t reheat in the microwave particularly well.

I have baked the par-baked rolls, but we haven’t actually tried them immediately after re-baking them. Baking them seems to work just fine, although I think it takes 12 minutes at 400F rather than 8-10. They don’t evenly brown in my oven even at 12 minutes when I put them in frozen.

Would I make these again? Probably not. The taste is okay (although sweet, which I don’t care for), but the recipe was kind of pain to work with. I’m not sure what would make it better. Would using AP flour instead of bread flour make the dough easier to work with? Would it be easier to work with (and/or taste better) with a larger amount of whole wheat flour in the dough? Should there be no water added to the dough, to make it easier to work with? Should we just work with a sticky dough, rather than add tons of water? I don’t have good answers to these questions, and I’m not sure that I care to experiment with the recipe to figure it out.

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