How to bake Buns and Rolls

The title says it all 🙂 Let’s dive in!

What exactly is a bun?

It’s a small, round bread that is either sweet, plain or savoury. This term comes from the Middle English bunne and the Old French bugne, probably meaning a round bump. Buns are also known as rolls, commonly used as a side dish with meat or veggies.  Ever since those times, we have been savouring these buns and rolls, filling them with jams, cheese, veggies, patties or topping them with caramel and cream.

There are various names for the simple buns, such as the Chinese dumplings called baozi, or the British cob (a simple bun), bap (soft and rich with more butter) and batch (a sweet bread). There are 21 such names or varieties of buns in various regions of Britain alone. The list would be a big one and quite interesting too, but I will stop here because we may get lost in this maze and lose our focus, which is to keep things simply simple!

For you and me, the ‘bun’ is reminiscent of the sweet buns with colorful tutti frutti, or the plain buns — soft and golden brown from the outside, which the ‘bread wala’ sold in neighbourhood stalls or on his rickety bicycle shouting out, “Bread le lo! Bun makhan le lo!”. Who doesn’t remember the famous ‘Hot Cross Buns’ which featured in the poems, comics and novels of our youth and are etched in our memory? As kids, we always wished for eating these all the time! Here’s your chance to learn to bake them.

A note about the dough for buns.

When I say bread, it not only means bread loaf, but all similar bakes made with bread dough, such as buns, pizza, garlic bread, focaccia, slow rise bread, pitas, calzones etc.

To keep things simple, there are only two types of dough for all my bread recipes:

  1. The first one is a Basic bread dough, mainly consisting of wheat flour, yeast and water along with very little oil, salt and sugar.
  2. The second one is the Bun dough which is richer, as it has some or all of these ingredients: 
    1. Sugar or honey
    2. Butter or oil
    3. Egg
    4. Buttermilk or thick curd (as a substitute for egg)
    5. Milk or milk powder
    6. Lemon or vinegar
    7. Herbs and seeds
    8. A dash of baking soda

Without those extra ingredients, our Bun dough will taste exactly like Breads. The Bun dough, which is our ‘rich dough’, can be used for all other breads like pizza, calzone, cheese garlic breads, stuffed breads, buns, dinner rolls, focaccia, pavs, kulchas and even for cinnabons and sweet breads with some variation!

Recipe for Buns and Pavs


The ingredients.
  • Whole wheat flour – 1&½ cup (210 grams)
  • Maida – 1 cup  (120 grams)
  • Yeast – 1 &½  tsp
  • Sugar or honey – 2 tbsp
  • Milk powder – 2 tbsp
  • Warm milk – ½ cup (120 ml)
  • Warm water- ½ cup (120 ml)
  •  Oil or butter – 3 to 4 tbsp (¼ cup)
  • Salt – 1 tsp
  • Baking soda – ¼ tsp
  • 1 egg (beat well) OR Thick curd – 3 tbsp 
  • White vinegar – 1 tsp OR Lemon juice – 1 tsp 
  • 1 egg for egg wash

Dough for softer breads.

In all the bread recipes, to make soft and less dense breads, the key is to make soft dough and have more hydration (i.e. the liquid content). The general rule is that hydration should be 50% to 60% (i.e. if flour is 100 grams, liquid should be 50g to 60g, or 50ml to 60ml). 

Remember, while using wholewheat flour (which is less refined and absorbs more liquid), the breads improve with more hydration. In my recipes, I keep hydration upto 70%.

Do remember to include all wet ingredients such as oil, butter, milk, water etc. in the liquid content that you add to the flour.

Step 1

Mix all the dry ingredients and sift the flour well, as aeration helps in baking well structured breads. Do not add salt now, as it interferes with the activity of yeast. We will add it later.

Step 2

Add the wet ingredients gradually, stir well and keep the dough aside for ½  an hour or so. This process is called autolyse. It helps in breaking down the enzymes and gluten formation for well structured and flavoured breads. We can now add salt to the dough.

Step 3

Add salt and knead well for 10 minutes or so. Enjoy the temporary mess — the dough will become more stable with the yeast feeding on sugars in the flour. Keep kneading.

Learn to enjoy the kneading!

Many of our fellow bakers agree that they find the kneading process very therapeutic. You are with yourself for these 10 minutes, and can chant, sing, weave a tale or reflect ‘upon the daffodils of William Wordsworth as they flash upon the inward eye only when you are in solitude.’ 🙂

Keep kneading the dough; resist adding flour. It will take shape.

Keep kneading, stretching and folding it on itself (like folding a sheet of paper in half), for about 10 minutes for gluten to develop properly. Add some flour or olive oil to make the dough soft and smooth, as needed.

The dough will become smooth over time. Keep at it.

Step 4

After the dough becomes smooth, start molding the dough in a large ball. As shown in the clip, place the ball on the kneading surface and drag it towards yourself. Repeat this a few times.

Many of you have asked about this. Place the dough on the mat, and drag it towards you.

Place the ball in a large greased bowl (preferably a glass bowl). Cover and keep the bowl in a dark and warm place. The fermentation process will double the dough in size, so make sure your bowl is large enough. The dough should not over ferment (i.e. the dough should not rise more than double its original size, else it then sinks).

Step 5

To test whether the dough has fermented and risen well, the dough should spring back after a gentle press. In my experience fermentation time in an Indian kitchen in warm weather would be around 45 minutes to 1 hour. In cool weather, it’s about 1&½ to 2 hours.

Gently take the dough out from the bowl. Because of the  greasing it should slide out. Do not pull it out else you disturb the activity of the yeast. Again gently deflate the dough with your fingertips — I call it dimpling.

Deflate very gently using your fingers.

Step 6

Once deflated, pull the dough from the edges towards the center, so that the smooth side is out (see the clip). Place it seam side down. Partition into smaller balls to make your buns.

Collect into a large ball, seam side down.

Step 7

To make a normal bun/pav, take a ball and roll in your hands (as shown) till it becomes smooth and all cracks/crevices disappear. Keep these aside for proving.

Roll your bun! That’s how you avoid cracks on the surface.

You can also shape the bun if you want. This is completely optional. To make a pretzel like shape for instance, begin by stretching and rolling a small amount of dough by hand, till it’s about 15-20 cm long.

Prep for Pretzel shape.

Then, proceed to tie a knot with the dough, and keep aside for proving.

Moves for Pretzel shape.

As always, prove for about 30 mins.

Step 8

Prepare an egg-wash: mix a whole egg with water or milk. If you do not want the yolk, egg-white can also be used. The egg-whites in the egg add to the shine of the bun; the yolk gives it that distinctive golden color. For those who’d like to avoid eggs, butter can be used.

I sometimes sprinkle sesame seeds after the eggwash.

Buns are already shining!

Step 9

Bake at 180 to 190 degrees for 20 minutes. Cover for the last 5 minutes with foil. You can also brush with butter and egg towards the end.

Baking in the oven.

Pro tip: stuffed buns.

Make a simple stuffing of shredded cheese, oregano, chilli-flakes, salt and pepper. Then stuff in the bun dough, and shape into a ball for proving.

Stuffed buns are also easy!

And that’s it!

You can easily make around 10 buns in a tray. And the combinations are endless. Any type stuffing (grilled onions, paneer, etc) goes well. Eat with jams, chutney, vadas, or just plain butter too!

Do try this over the weekend. If you face any issues, leave a comment. And let me know if the short clips were helpful.

Golden sesame buns! Baked fresh in your home!

29 thoughts on “How to bake Buns and Rolls

  1. Shikha

    Oh it’s so good!!Kneading dough n baking beautiful bread n buns is so therapeutic!!Renu di u r an inspiration for al d people around u ,not only as a baker but as a good human being also!Apart from baking ,learning to share n care for others from u!


    Buns look so beautiful and tempting.Each and every step is so well explained through video clips. Very informative write up ma’am.

  3. Anu Khendry

    Thanks, Renu. The recipe is so well explained and illustrated. Makes me want to try it today!

  4. Sonal Bansal

    So nicely explained ❤️❤️ it’s a treasure to be cherished. It is as if you are taking a demo class . Thanks a lot 😊

  5. Sangita Rustogi

    Awesome bakes ma’am. Very informative and nicely explained with the help of video clips. Baking buns , multigrain breads, pizza, stuffed breads, leopard print bread using spinach and beetroot purée by following your basic Bread and buns recipe only. Liked by family and friends 😊. Thanks ma’am for inspiring, guiding and mentoring me.

    1. renuamitabh Post author

      Hi Pallavi,
      The milk powder adds protein (gives the “sheen” and texture to the bread).
      If you don’t want to add milk powder, increase the quantity of milk during kneading.
      Or, add two spoons of almond meal/powder.


    So well explained and so nicely presented in such a simple manner…..each and every step is very clear….and the final result….so tempting…..loved it Renu

  7. renuamitabh Post author

    Thanks for appreciating the post. Looking forward to many of you trying out this simple recipe and sharing the outcome with our fellow bakers!!

    1. Shikha

      Superb demonstration Ma’am… so beautifully and clearly explained. You have taken the terror out of baking buns!!

  8. Romita

    Very nicely and simply explained. Easy to follow !! You have made bread making so simple.. 👍

  9. Poonam

    Renu you have explained it in detail all the minor and important tips and tricks. The pics tempts one to try them out.

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  12. Shalu

    My buns have never been so soft and good looking as tried by this recipe..thank u so much for the detailed recipe!

    1. Kuhu Joshi

      I made these buns and they were the softest, most delicious buns ever! It was my first time trying my hand at baking and I was honestly surprised with the great results! They tasted like clouds! But I have to say, the most satisfying part was the process itself – from measuring the ingredients to getting your hands messy in the dough – I felt so happy and relaxed afterwards, that I wanted to do it every day!
      Thankyou for this blog, it’s such a delight and a gift to all of us 🙂 The video clips are so easy to follow and your passion really shines through and entices us to try making these amazing recipes. I even tried a stuffed version with paneer filled inside the bun, and my whole family loved it 😀

      1. renuamitabh Post author

        Thanks Kuhu! I am so happy the next generation is liking home made/ self baked stuff! Tasty bhi healthy bhi and jaldi bhi! Your buns are part of our Appreciation post. We loved them

  13. Madhumita

    Renu you have explained every step so very meticulously.Highly appreciate that.
    Will definitely try out as the buns look very delicious.

  14. Anu garg

    Really remarkable recipes, can’t forget in my life u made these things very easy to for us, always enjoying baking now

  15. Sanghamitra Mohanty

    Tried buns Came out soft n yummm. Used chia egg along with curd. Thank you Renu

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