Last Friday, I watched Julie & Julia for the first time. I’ve never read Julie’s blog, nor did I know it existed prior to the movie. While I found the movie entertaining, I thought it was strange that Julie never took pictures of her food. Does that mean, her food blog was all words and no pictures?! That’s hardly the case with food blog nowadays. What would people pin? Anyway, I went to bed craving French Onion Soup. There’s this one scene in the movie where both Julie and Julia are eating the hot, stringy gruyere cheese that encases French Onion Soup and I really wanted a bowl.
Earlier in the evening, I had made a batch of cinnamon rolls. I like to make cinnamon rolls in the evening and let it rest overnight so I can wake up to fresh bread the following morning. That night, I dream about “French Onion Soup” rolls (caramelized onion and gruyere rolls!).
These caramelized onion and gruyere rolls have the same flavor as French Onion Soup, but are served in an easier to eat bread roll. While these bake in the oven, your kitchen fills with the familiar sweet and savory aroma of French Onion Soup. You get that same stringy gruyere cheese as you eat the warm rolls. And unlike the soup, no utensils are needed here. It’s a grab and go snack!
I was out of sandwich bread yesterday, so I split one of the rolls in half. I filled it with some on ham and placed it on the panini press. Needless to say, I had an amazing sandwich. Lesson of these rolls: don’t be restricted or bound by tradition. Use your imagination and have fun in the kitchen!
Caramelizing onions is a lengthy process, but very necessary to get that nice sweet flavor. I used four large onions. The sliced onions filled my 7-quart pot. It’s best to heat the onions over medium (or medium-low) heat. Caramelizing takes time and shouldn’t be rushed. Otherwise, you’ll likely end up with burnt onions. Stir the onions every 8 minutes or so to make sure it doesn’t burn at the sides or bottom of the pan. Remember, be patient as it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour to cook the onions. But as you can see from the photo above, the onions dramatically reduce in size.
I seasoned the onions with dried thyme once the onions have decreased in volume. DO NOT ADD THE SALT until the onions are completely done. Adding the salt during the cooking process will cause the onions to sweat more liquid than desired. You’ll end up with a large pool of liquid at the bottom of the pan that will slow down the cooking process. Instead, season the onions with salt once they’re done and caramelized.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to a 12×16-inch rectangle. Have your fillings ready.
- Spread 2 tablespoons room temperature butter all over the dough. Spread cooled onion filling evenly over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border around around all the sides. Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups shredded gruyere over the onion filling.
- With the long end facing you, begin rolling up dough.
- Continue to roll dough into a tight log.
- Once dough is rolled, arrange it so that the seam is at the bottom.
- Use a sharp knife to slice the log into 12 equal portions.
- Place slices in a butter greased parchment paper lined 9×13-inch baking sheet with sheet pan extenders.
- Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheese over slices. Cover with plastic wrap and let the rolls rise until they reach the top of the pan.
Caramelized Onion and Gruyere Bread Rolls
My family calls these my special "French Onion Soup Rolls." It has the same flavors as French Onion Soup, but in an easier to eat bread roll. While caramelizing onions is a lengthly process, the results are well worth it.
Yield: 1 dozen bread rolls
- 2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast
- 3 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 cup whole milk, warmed to 105-110 degrees F
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 3 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
Caramelized Onion Filling:
- 4 large onions, sliced
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 cups gruyere, shredded
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
Dough and Assembly:
- Sprinkle yeast over warm milk. Add 2 tsp of granulated sugar and stir to combine. Let sit for 5-10 minutes to allow mixture to bubble and expand.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a hook attachment, combine dissolved yeast, remaining 2 Tbsp + 1 tsp sugar, melted butter, and whisked eggs. Mix with a whisk to combine.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, black pepper, and thyme. With the mixer on low speed, add flour mixture one cup at a time. Once all the flour has been added, increase mixer speed to medium and knead until dough is smooth and cleans the sides of the bowl. If dough is too sticky, add flour one tablespoon at a time.
- Transfer dough to a lightly greased large bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 60-90 minutes until dough has doubled in size. While dough is resting, caramelize onions.
- Remove plastic wrap. Punch dough down. Transfer to a lightly floured surface. Roll dough into a 12 x 16 inch rectangle.
- Spread 2 tablespoons room temperature butter evenly over dough. Spread cooled onion filling evenly over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border around all the sides. Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups shredded gruyere over onion filling.
- Roll dough into a tight log, starting at the long side. Once dough is rolled, arrange it so that the seam is at the bottom. Slice the log into 12 equal portions. Place slices in a butter greased, parchment lined 9x13-inch baking sheet with sheet pan extenders. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of cheese over slices.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let the rolls rise for 45- 60 minutes until rolls reach the top of the pan.**
- Meanwhile preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Remove plastic wrap and bake rolls for 30-35 minutes until the cheese is golden and the internal temperature of the bread rolls hit 185 degrees F.
- Let rolls sit in pan for 5-10 minutes before running a knife or mini offset spatula around the edges to loosen from the pan. Serve warm.
Caramelized Onion Filling:
- In a large pot, add 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Set over medium heat. Once butter has melted, add all the sliced onions. Stir to coat onions in butter-oil mixture.
- Check on the onions every 5-8 minutes to stir the onions. Make sure none of the onions end up burning at the bottom of the pot. Once the onions have reduced by 1/3, add thyme. Stir to combine.
- As you cook the onions, they will expel lots of liquids. Continue to cook until all the liquid is gone and the onions are very soft. Eventually after about an hour, the onions will start to caramelize and brown. During the entire cooking process, keep an eye on the onions and stir every 8 minutes or so. Once onions have been cooked down, remove form heat. Add salt to taste (I added 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt.) Cool onions until ready to fill bread rolls.
**If you don't want to bake the rolls right away, you can let the rolls proof overnight in the fridge. After placing the cut rolls in the baking sheet, simply cover it with plastic wrap and let it chill in the fridge overnight. Before baking, let it come to room temperature (about 30-45 minutes) and then bake according to normal instructions.
The Little Epicurean