We crave comfort in winter, not to mention a release from routine. So, if you’re looking for something to go with this weekend’s stew, consider these Potato Black Pepper Herb Rolls.  You form the dough for these tender dinner rolls flavored with black pepper, fresh chives and parsley into an impressive crown shape.

The dough mixes easily by hand or in a stand mixer. Using a combination of potato and wheat flours plus sugar and olive oil helps tenderize the crumb. Here is the dough after proofing before baking in the mold I used. (See more about it below.)

These soft rolls are chewy but also melt in the mouth. I like the combination of lots of black pepper plus dill and parsley in the dough.  You can go heavy on the pepper and herbs. Add chopped scallions, cilantro or rosemary too. Or knead in red pepper flakes, Aleppo pepper or chili powder to give the dough some kick. Grated aged cheddar or Asiago work well too.

If you’re making chili for a group – think Superbowl Sunday – these rolls make the perfect accompaniment. Their flavor is mild enough to go with a washed rind cheese. Or assertive enough to stand up to a bowl of minestrone; National Homemade Soup Day is February 4th. I adapted this recipe from on in the textbook I co-author, On Baking: A Textbook of Baking and Pastry Fundamentals. Kudos to my co-author Eddy Van Damme for the original recipe, which I adapted to my own taste. The rolls are easy to make and freeze well.

Kitchen Notebook

I’m a fool for a fancy bread or cake mold. Give me a Bundt pan shaped like a German castle any day. I’ll whip up a plain butter cake and let the pan do the work. The same holds true for yeast breads. Crown loaves (couronne in French) put a smile on my face. In France, bakers make fat sourdough loaves shaped like life preservers on the SS Normandie. You rarely see such loaves stateside. We own three enormous canvas-lined willow baskets for making them. You form the yeast dough into a rope. Secure the ends then place the dough into the baskets to proof. A bump in the center of the basket preserves a hole in the loaf when it bakes.

This whimsical bread mold from Emile Henry inspired me to bake these Potato Black Pepper Herb Rolls.  The company sent the mold for me to test because I enjoy their products and have been testing them for several years. The Crown Bread Baker achieves two things. It produces a stunning crown loaf as well as individual rolls. The cavities are large as are the rolls baked in the mold.  Each roll makes a hefty sandwich.

Potato Black Pepper Herb Rolls

Yield: 1 Large Crown Loaf, 8 Large Rolls

Potato Black Pepper Herb Rolls


18 ounces (approximately 4 cups) bread flour

3 Tablespoons potato flour

1 Tablespoon dry milk powder

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

4 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons instant yeast

12 fluid ounces (1½ cups) water, 100°F

1 egg

2 Tablespoons olive oil

½ cup fine chopped parsley and dill

1 teaspoon fine chopped rosemary

½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Flour for dusting the dough


  1. Place the flours, milk powder, sugar and salt in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Stir together the instant yeast, water, eggs and oil. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients. Mix on low speed to combine. Knead on medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, approximately 7 to 9 minutes. Mix in the herbs and black pepper just until evenly distributed in the dough.
  2. Cover and ferment the dough until doubled in bulk, approximately 11/2 to 2 hours.
  3. Brush each cavity in an Emile Henry Crown Bread Baker lightly with olive oil.
  4. Fold down the dough. Divide it into 8 uniform pieces approximately 4 ounces each. Round each piece of dough into a smooth roll and place it in one cavity in the prepared mold. Sprinkle the surface of the dough lightly with flour. Cover the mold with the lid. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  5. Proof until the rolls nearly double in volume, for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  6. Place the covered bread mold in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350F and continue baking for 15 more minutes. Remove the lid. Cook for 5 to 10 more minutes if the rolls need to brown more.


If making rolls without a mold, divide the dough into 816 pieces. Roll each piece of dough tightly. Place each piece of rolled dough spaced ½-inch apart onto one or two parchment-paper lined sheet pans. Cover with thick plastic and let the dough proof.

Preheat the oven to 475F with a small pan on the bottom shelf for steam. Position the other oven rack in the center of the oven. Slide the sheet pan of rolls into the oven. Pour about ½ cup boiling water into the pan in the oven. Bake until golden brown and baked through, for approximately 25 to 30 minutes.