Bread was the basis of our school lunches. Brown sandwich loaves, sliced thin and filled with cheese, lettuce and tomato, sometimes filled with fish fingers or Monday's staple, Amma's braised baked beans curry. It even served as the subject of many Show and Tell's at school, 'How to Make a Cheese Sandwich'. We lived in a remote area without easy access to supermarkets back in the 1980's and '90s. Bread, bought from the local shop was often stale. Amma‘s solution to this was homemade buns and rolls. A recipe which has evolved over the years. Since making hot cross buns, Chelsea buns, cream buns and Durban naan bread, I am a self-proclaimed baker! I have tried recipes with eggs, butter, and or oil, bread with milk or just water, all with satisfying results. None yield as satisfying results as this recipe. Soft rolls with a beautiful brown colour. The smells of freshly baked bread rolls wafting through the house bring back fond memories of the June school holidays. Memories of  playing in the back yard. My sisters and I eating hot dogs made from Amma's freshly made rolls, viennas and tomato sauce while sitting under bed sheet tents hung from the washing line. Those were the days!
This post is made up of two parts, the first is a detailed guide to making flop proof bread rolls and buns and the second is the recipe. Simply jump to the recipe or read on for a complete guide to making soft rolls and buns.

 Jump To The Recipesoft bread roll dough recipe

My Best Recipe for Making Soft Rolls

One of the best ingredients combinations I have tried is the use of eggs, melted butter and warm milk. While bread flour is often recommended for making bread I have found that cake flour works just as well in this recipe. For an eggless version of this recipe, see my recipe for eggless raisin buns.

How to Make Perfect Soft Rolls and Buns  Every time! 

When it comes to making soft buns, bread or any yeast based dough my trusted method is to :

 1. Activate the Yeast 

Yeast is the most important factor when making any yeast based treats. From my experience, it has to be activated before combining with flour. This will give you a good indication if it is going to make perfect soft bread or not. If the yeast does not activate you will end up with hard buns. Yeast can be activated by diluting with warm milk or warm water and sugar. It takes at least five minutes before the yeast and liquid mixture almost doubles in size. While this is a common practice for live yeast I use the same method when using instant yeast too.

soft rolls recipe


 2. Kneading 

The next step toward perfect dough is kneading the dough. That is combining the yeast with other ingredients to for soft dough. I recommend sticking to the exact recipe quantities. The dough may appear stick and unmanageable at first, trust me it works if you just keep at it. Punch, pull, and stretch the dough until you are able to form a round ball. I prefer my recipes hand made, no stand mixer is necessary, but if you prefer using one, it works just as well.


how to make soft rolls

3. Proofing 

This step means allowing the yeast dough to rise. It is best to place the dough in a warm spot, away from any draught. Cover with a cloth and don’t open until the required time has elapsed. After proofing the dough should have doubled in size. This is the second indicator if the dough is a success or not. This method of proofing takes place twice. First after forming the dough and secondly after forming the dough into buns. This is the third indicator for successful buns. If it does not double in size, chances are it won’t change much when baked either and the result rock hard and flat. 

 4. Baking 

Always bake buns in a preheated oven. Temperature affects yeast. A cold oven will result in flat, rock hard buns. Preheat the oven to the required temperature before baking.

 5. Greasing 

I prefer using butter instead of milk or egg to ‘grease’ baking buns or rolls. This means coating the buns before baking and during. This helps give the buns its beautiful brown colour. 


Easy Soft Rolls Recipe

Soft Bread Rolls Recipe

Soft Bread Rolls Recipe

24 medium rolls
Prep time
10 Min
Cook time
35 Min
Inactive time
1 H & 30 M
Total time
2 H & 15 M
An easy recipe for making bread rolls. The use of eggs , melted butter and warm milk result in a soft roll texture.


  • 2 tbsp instant yeast
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 5 cups flour (41/2 cups for the dough and 1/2 cup for dusting the work surface)
  • salt
  • 150g melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons butter for brushing


  1. Activate the yeast. Place the warm milk in a bowl. Combine with sugar. Mix until the sugar is dissolved. Add the instant yeast. Mix to combine. Cover and set aside for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Melt the butter. Set aside to cool.
  3. Sift the dry ingredients, 4 1/2 cups flour and salt.
  4. Add yeast mixture, melted butter and 2 eggs to the flour.
  5. Mix to combine. Knead until a soft dough forms. Keep kneading until the dough is manageable. Add some of the 1/2 cups of flour reserved for dusting the work surface, if the dough is too sticky. Do not add any additional flour.
  6. Place the dough in a large bowl greased with butter or oil. This prevents the dough from sticking to the bowl. Cover and keep in a warm place. Set aside for 30 -45 minutes.
  7. Remove from bowl, shaped in rolls or buns. To make roll pull out a piece of dough, shape until long. Or shape round for buns. Place in a lined baking sheet or pan.
  8. Cover and allow to proof once more. After 30 minutes the buns or rolls will have doubles in size.
  9. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius
  10. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 35 minutes. After 15 minutes in the oven, brush with melted butter. Repeat after 10 minutes.
  11. Once the rolls are brown, remove from oven and cover with a clean cloth.
  12. Serve warm. Enjoy with butter.



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soft bread rolls; easy bread rolls; perfect bread rolls
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  1. Thank you for the detailed post and recipe. The brown tops look delicious

    1. Hi Moheni, thank you for taking the time to leave feedback 😍. The brown tops are because of butter! I apply butter while they are in the oven, this gives the rolls a beautiful colour and softness.


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