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Spelt, fennel and butter rolls

We often get calls from customers asking how to use particular products and we enjoy talking to our bakers as hearing about their successes and occasional failures is always interesting. I had a call from a keen baker recently asking about using glycerine in bread. You may remember that we used glycerine recently in our sweet cardamom buns but is it any good in bread? Best go to the person that knows so I asked Vanessa to take a look.

Glycerine is a magical ingredient to soften your bread and it also extends the shelf life. While you can use glycerine in your basic white loaf (about 15-20g per 500g flour), I particularly like to use glycerine to soften flours, which might otherwise make a loaf just a bit too chewy. This delicious spelt roll recipe has gone a step further and by using milk, which also softens the dough, the combination of this wonderful wholemeal spelt with aromatic fennel and the richness of a little butter makes a delicious soft bread roll which goes incredibly well with cream cheese and smoked salmon. It is worth noting though that adding more glycerine than I suggest will make the dough softer but too much will make the dough unmanageable, as it loses form.

Spelt Butter Rolls

I think there’s a joy with bread in being able to create new textures and pairings of flavours. These rolls are aromatic with top notes of fennel. They are soft because the addition of glycerine has softened what could be a tough, challenging chew when it comes to using wholemeal grains. At the base you have wonderful nutty, spelt notes; I’ve used fennel leaves because it’s currently growing in abundance in the garden. Of course, you can add more or less to suit your own palette. If it’s winter, lightly toast a tablespoon of fennel seeds instead. I cannot recommend highly enough serving these lightly warmed and smothered with cream cheese and smoked salmon.

Mix the yeast with the milk and water to get a creamy liquid. Add in the glycerine and stir.

Put the flour and the salt in a bowl and rub in the butter, then stir in the chopped fennel leaves.

Stir in the yeast liquid and to the flour mixture to get a soft dough. Cover and leave for 20 minutes.

Once rested turn onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. This takes about 10 minutes. Put in a clean bowl and cover with a clean damp tea towel. Leave to prove in a warm place for about an hour or until doubled in size. Preheat your oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.

Turn out your dough on to a lightly dusted work surface and divide and shape into 8 rolls. The glycerine in the dough will make the dough quite elastic so make sure you give the base of the roll a good pinch to bring the rolls together at the based and to prevent them losing their shape during the proving process. Once shaped, place the rolls onto a baking stone that has been dusted with polenta to rest.

Cover with a clean damp tea towel and allow to rise again. This takes about 30 minutes to an hour depending on the room temperature.

Bake until the rolls are golden and risen, about 25 minutes. Once baked, pop into your bread bag and store, this will help the rolls to remain soft.

Makes: 8 rolls


15g fresh organic yeast 160g whole milk 180g water (28 degrees C) 1 tbsp glycerine 500g Stoate’s Spelt flour 10g Cornish sea salt 50g English unsalted butter 2-3 tbsp fresh fennel leaves, chopped, plus extra leaves for decorating Extra flour and polenta for dusting

Stoate's Organic Spelt Flour

Spelt is an ancient grain used for its distinctive flour from the award-winning Stoates mill based in Dorset. Use this flour in breads and rolls.

Round Refractory Clay Baking Stone, 13" or 33cm diameter

Large oven baking stone to simulate the performance of a bread oven, made from the highest quality refractory clay, 33cm or 13" diameter and 23mm 4/5" thick, perfect for crusty bread

Bioreal Organic Fresh Yeast

Excellent organic fresh organic yeast in a 42g cube or 1kg block, additive and GMO-free, use directly in place of the non-organic equivalent. Now available by regular delivery.

Don’t forget to take a look at our other spices… the fennel can be substituted with: Caraway, Cumin or Coriander.



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