Yield: 8 overnight milk bread dinner rolls // Total Time: 2 hr. 20 min. + an overnight rise // Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links.
Make and shape these rolls at night, then bake them off the next day for the lightest, fluffiest brioche overnight milk bread dinner rolls!
Overnight Milk Bread Dinner Rolls
These rolls are the perfect side for thanksgiving, or really any dinner! The purpose of these rolls is that they can be made the day before, up until the point where they need to be baked. That way, whether it’s a hectic day of Thanksgiving planning or a hectic week night, these rolls will just be ready to be taken out of the fridge and baked for fresh, delicious brioche at dinner time!
What is milk bread?
Milk bread is a type of bread that uses tangzhong to make soft and fluffy bread. Tangzhong is a cooking method that involves cooking a portion of the flour in a recipe with a portion of the liquid. Doing so allows the dough to hold on to more hydration, leading to softer, fluffier bread that stays fresh for longer than standard bread! To learn more about tangzhong, you can read my post all about it!
Why do you post small batch recipes?
I love making small batch bakes because they are the perfect size myself and others who don’t have a lot of people to bake for in their home. Small batch helps cut down on waste and eliminates the feeling that all that excess dessert MUST be eaten. Here on my blog I post a lot of small batch bakes with a mix of some 8-10″ single layer cakes from time to time. All my recipes can easily be doubled or tripled to fit your need, so long as you use grams to measure!
Overnight milk bread dinner rolls recipe tips
Weigh your ingredients
Weighing your ingredients is important for getting the recipe perfect and getting consistent results. Not weighing your ingredients can lead to adding too much or too little of an ingredient. In a small batch recipe it is especially important to get those correct measurements because there is less room for error. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend purchasing a kitchen scale. This one is super cheap and worked well for me when I was starting out!
Kneading the dough
Kneading this dough will take a longer time than you are probably used to. This dough is enriched with eggs and butter which makes it take longer for the proper amount of gluten to develop. Kneading in the mixer can take me anywhere from 10-20 minutes. The dough is ready to be used when it passes the windowpane test and has pulled away from the sides and bottom of the bowl. If you are weighing your ingredients, just trust the process! If you are using cup measurements and the dough just is not coming together after 15 minutes, try adding in 1 tbsp. of flour at a time.
Room temperature ingredients
It is important for the ingredients to be at room temperature so that they properly incorporate with each other. Take out the egg and butter at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hr 30 min. before starting the recipe. To bring an egg to room temperature quickly, you can place it under hot water for 1 minute. To bring butter to room temperature quickly, slice it, place it on a plate, and microwave it in 5 second intervals!
Heating the milk
Heating the milk is important for bringing the yeast to an optimal temperature for rising. The milk should be heated to ~100°F / 38°C but it does not have to be exact. As long as the milk is between 95°F – 110°F, it is good to be used. If the temperature exceeds 110°F, wait for it to cool down before using so that you do not kill the yeast!
Dough rising environment
For the first rise, I highly recommend letting the dough rise in the fridge overnight simply because it’s much easier to work with when it’s cold, and then you don’t have to worry about doing everything in one day. For the second rise (and if you do choose to do both rises in one day) – you’re going to want to make sure your dough is in a warm environment for it to rise faster. If the room is cold, the dough will take longer to rise. I like to place my bowl of dough on top of my oven, preheat the oven to the lowest temperature it will go, and then turn the oven off and let it continue to rise there.
The windowpane test
The windowpane test is (in my opinion) the best way to tell that your dough has been properly kneaded. Once the dough starts to pull away from the sides and the bottom of the mixing bowl, it is most likely ready. However, just to be sure that it’s good to go I check if it passes the windowpane test. To do that, take some of the dough in your hands and start to slowly stretch it out. If it can get thin enough to where light passes through it before tearing, then it’s good to go! If not, keep kneading until it does!
Ingredients and substitutions
For the brioche rolls:
All purpose flour: for structure and chewiness. We will use a bit of flour for the tangzhong mixture, and the rest as the base of the dough.
Active dry yeast: for making the dough rise. You can easily substitute in instant yeast if that is what you have on hand. You will just skip the step of combining the warm milk, sugar, and yeast!
Salt: for balancing and bringing out the sweetness of the brioche. Salt also “controls” the yeast to make sure that it does not overly expand.
Granulated sugar: for sweetening the brioche and for helping the yeast with rising. We will use a little bit of sugar in the brioche as well as in the hazelnut sugar.
Egg: for binding and adding moisture.
Unsalted butter: for tenderizing the brioche rolls and giving them a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth feel. I would not recommend substituting in salted butter since salt is important to controlling yeast growth and the amount of salt in salted butter is quite variable.
Whole milk: for tenderizing and hydrating the dough. Whole milk will provide the softest rolls because the extra fat helps tenderize the dough. You can however swap in 1%, 2% or your favorite non dairy milk alternative! Just note that the dough may be a little less soft and fluffy due to the varying fat content. We will use some milk in the tangzhong and some in the rest of the dough.
For the (optional) honey butter:
Unsalted butter: the base of the honey butter. You can use salted butter here as well, just be sure to omit the extra salt from the honey butter.
Salt: balances and brings out the sweetness and flavor of the honey butter.
Honey: it wouldn’t be honey butter without some honey! Use your favorite variety of honey here for the best flavor.
How to make overnight milk bread dinner rolls
While making brioche might seem hard and scary, it’s really super easy and most of the time you are just waiting for the dough to rise!
1. Make the tangzhong mixture. In a small saucepan over medium heat, continuously stir together the flour and milk until the mixture and thickens into a thick slurry. Take off the heat and set aside.
2. Make the dough. Mix together the warm milk, sugar, and yeast and leave to rest until the mixture begins to foam. Then, combine all of the dough ingredients, including the tangzhong mixture, in a stand mixer and knead. You will know the dough is ready when it passes the windowpane test (more details later in the post!)
3. Let the dough rise. Once the dough is done kneading, butter the inside of the bowl, cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap, and place it in a warm area to rise until doubled in size (~1 hr.)
4. Shape the dough. Once the dough has finished rising, lightly punch it down to remove any excess air in it. For the pan size – I used a 9×7″ rectangular dish for these to make 8 rolls. If all you have on hand is an 8″ square dish, you will use the dough to make 9 rolls. Weigh the dough then divide it into 8 or 9 equally sized rolls, depending on your pan size. Roll each piece of dough tightly into a ball, then place the rolls evenly spaced apart in the buttered pan.
5. Let the dough rest overnight. At this point, you’re going to want to cover the top of the pan tightly with plastic wrap and place the dough in the fridge overnight. This is for convenience, so that they can just easily be baked off the next day when you need them! If you’d prefer to make the dough all in one day, just lightly cover the pan with a towel and leave the rolls to rise in a warm environment until doubled in size (~30-45 minutes).
6. Bake the rolls. Take the rolls out to sit on the counter 30 minutes before you would like to bake them. Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C. Make an egg wash by whisking together 1 egg and 1 tbsp. of milk, then brush it over each roll. Bake the rolls for 15-20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and the internal temperature reads 190°F / 88°C.
7. (Optional) Make the honey butter. Start by beating together the butter and salt for 1 minute, until the mixture is smooth. Then, beat in the honey for an additional minute.
8. Serve and enjoy! Serve the rolls warm with honey butter and enjoy!
Overnight milk bread dinner rolls Q & A
How to store overnight milk bread dinner rolls
If you happen to have some leftover rolls, they can just be stored in an airtight container at room temperature. When you want to eat one, toss it in the microwave for 5-10 seconds until it’s warm!
Can I double this recipe?
Yes! I can’t emphasize using a kitchen scale enough for especially this recipe already, but if you are going to double or half the ingredients it is even more important that you weigh your ingredients. The dough is very hydrated and slight alterations can change the texture of the dough.
Can I use instant yeast instead of active dry yeast?
Yes of course! Instead of mixing the heated milk, sugar, and yeast together, just pop all of the dough ingredients into your mixing bowl to start kneading. I do highly recommend refrigerating the dough overnight to make it easier to work with and more flavorful. However, if you are making the recipe all in one day, and using instant yeast, simply let the dough rest for just 10 minutes as the first rise, then proceed with the rest of the recipe.
Can I make the dough all in one day?
Yes, you certainly can! After placing the shaped rolls in the buttered pan, cover them loosely with a towel and leave them to rise in a warm environment until doubled in size (~30-45 minutes). Then, continue with the recipe as normal!
Why do you measure in grams?
My recipes are all written in grams because it is a more accurate way to bake. When you use a kitchen scale, you ensure that your baked goods turn out as close to the written recipe as possible. Plus, the cleanup is way easier when using a scale! I will provide standard cup measurements but please note that I have not tested the recipe using cup measurements. Here is my favorite kitchen scale, and here’s an article about why I use a kitchen scale, and why you should too!
A note on oven temperature.
Ovens vary and fluctuate in temperature. For example, I always have to set my oven to 330°F if I want it to bake at 350°F. If you love to bake like I do, I highly recommend getting an oven thermometer. They are super helpful for letting you know when your oven might be lying to you. I use this one.
Overnight milk bread dinner rolls troubleshooting
My dough just isn’t coming together
I can’t recommend the use of a kitchen scale enough, especially for something as hydrated as brioche dough. If you’ve been kneading and kneading and the dough still won’t pass the windowpane test, add 1 tbsp. of flour at a time and knead for 2 minutes until the dough comes together.
My yeast mixture isn’t foaming, what should I do?
The mixture should start foaming around 5 minutes in. If it has not foamed after 10 minutes, the yeast is likely dead. You want to make sure that the milk temperature does not exceed 110°F / 43°C or it will kill the yeast. If you try it again and it still does not foam, the yeast you are using may be expired and you will want to purchase some more before proceeding.
Tools and ingredients
For a full list of tools, equipment and ingredients that I use and love, you can check out this page here.
Did you make these overnight milk bread dinner rolls?
If you made these overnight milk bread dinner rolls I would love to see them and know your thoughts! Please leave a comment and review down below, and tag me on Instagram @freshbeanbakery. If you have any questions about the recipe I will gladly do my best to answer them in the comments below!
Overnight Milk Bread Dinner Rolls
- 24 g all purpose flour (3 tbsp.)
- 96 g whole milk (⅓ c. + 1 ½ tbsp.)
- 80 g whole milk (⅓ c.)
- 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
- 1 ½ tsp. active dry yeast
- 220 g all purpose flour (1 ¾ c. + 1 tbsp.)
- 1 tsp. salt
- 56 g unsalted butter (¼ c.) room temperature, cubed
- 1 egg room temperature
- 85 g unsalted butter (¼ c. + 2 tbsp.) room temperature
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 40 g honey (2 tbsp.)
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, continuously stir together the flour and milk until the mixture and thickens into a thick slurry. Take off the heat and set aside.
- In a microwave safe measuring cup, heat the milk to 100°F / 38°C. Whisk in the yeast and the sugar. Set aside until the mixture begins to foam. (~5 minutes)
- While waiting, add the tangzhong, flour, salt, egg, and butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. When the yeast mixture begins to foam, add it in to the rest of the ingredients.
- Knead the dough on low speed for 1 minute to allow the ingredients to come together. Increase the speed to medium-high and knead for an additional 10 minutes, or until the dough passes the windowpane test. (This will happen after the dough has cleaned the sides and bottom of the bowl)
- Take the dough out of the bowl and shape it into a large ball. Lightly butter the inside of the mixing bowl, then place the dough into the bowl. Cover the top of the bowl with a towel, then leave the dough to rise in a warm environment until it has doubled in size (~1 hr.)
- Once the dough has doubled in size, lightly punch it down to remove any excess air.
- Butter a medium sized rectangular pan (9×7") for 8 rolls. If you only have an 8×8" pan, that will work perfectly to make 9 rolls.
- Weigh the dough then divide it into 8 or 9 equally sized rolls, depending on your pan size listed above. Roll each piece of dough tightly into a ball, then place the rolls evenly spaced apart in the buttered pan.
- Cover the top of the pan tightly with plastic wrap, then place it in the fridge to rest overnight.
- Take the rolls out to sit on the counter 30 minutes before you would like to bake them.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C. Make an egg wash by whisking together 1 egg and 1 tbsp. of milk, then brush it over each roll.
- Bake the rolls for 15-20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and the internal temperature reads 190°F / 88°C.
- If desired, make some honey butter to go along with the rolls! Start by beating together the butter and salt for 1 minute, until the mixture is smooth. Then, beat in the honey for an additional minute.
- Serve the rolls warm with honey butter, and enjoy!