New recipes and updates

Get new recipes
in your inbox

Cuisine Fiend

Find a recipe by ingredient

Pull apart sourdough rolls

Updated: Tue, 11 July, 2023

Pull-apart sourdough bread rolls, with two kinds of dough and with four different fillings – that’s truly an offering for friends to share!

pull apart sourdough rolls

Bread bakers are the best

Bread bakers are a fantastic community. The online fora, the Facebook groups, the Instagram lot who post chunks of dough resting on a bench, they are all passionate as anything, they ask relevant questions and offer pertinent comments. I love them.

Even if you post a shapeless lumpen loaf, squashy on one side and decidedly under proofed, you’ll get ‘well done!’s and good advice.

And the elite, the crème de la crème, the sourdough aficionados, are not quite as snobby as they may appear to be.

white and whole sourdough dinner rolls

Bread vernacular

They speak a peculiar lingo, for sure.

It’s all autolyse this, window pane that; the hydration percentages you’re unable to work out without a PhD, and cryptic acronyms (RT, DO, S&F, WTF? the last obviously not quite to do with bread).

They scald, they retard, score and oven spring; and they aspire to slash perfect ears.

Bread making is magic

There is magic in bread making so no wonder the acolytes are a special bunch.

Mix together flour and water, and you get the best foodstuff on Earth. Seeing dough double or triple in volume is like watching a magic trick, albeit slightly less speedy.

And the way you can enchant a loaf almost out of thin air – or yeast water – can truly take your breath away.

tear and share filled sourdough rolls

My party bread

And here’s my bakers’ party bread: it is sourdough of course, although I still think of myself as not quite accomplished in calculating my hydration levels.

It has four different flavours hidden in the rolls and they are to tear, share and die for.

Two doughs

The dough is made with any sourdough starter, recently refreshed with equal quantities of flour and water. It should be vibrant and bubbling when you get to work with it, and a spoonful set on a bowl with water should float happily.

It is mixed into a ferment (the first, rough dough) with a mix of white bread flour with some light rye and some wholemeal.

After an hour’s rest, the rough dough is divided in two, to make white and dark rolls.

The dark portion is topped up with wholemeal instead of white bread flour plus some molasses and a pinch of cocoa.

Each batch needs to be kneaded until smooth, elastic and stretchy, before going for a cold retard (sic) of 24 hours in the fridge.

sourdough bread rolls with savoury filling

The fillings

The fillings are fun and totally optional. I go for:

- garlic pesto, mixed with garlic cloves and basil leaves

- tapenade, olive paste made at home or shop-bought

- diced hard cheese like Comte or Gruyere

- tomato paste mixed with a little honey

You can of course stuff the rolls with ham, cooked spinach, fresh herbs or cooked, chopped onions. Or leave them plain and just sprinkle the tops with flakes, crumbs or seeds.

stuffing bread rolls

Shaping and stuffing

The following day, with the dough out of the fridge, it’s the fun session. Dough is divided into chunks, each flattened, filled with prepared stuffing, then sealed very well and shaped into a smooth ball.

shaping bread rolls

The rolls can be baked in a rectangular baking tray or a round dish. Arrange them close to one another, alternating dark and white ones, so they rise touching one another and bake into an even closer entity. An egg wash glaze will keep them glossy, and the sprinkling of seeds, poppy or sesame, will be the final aesthetic touch.

proofing bread rolls

After baking, though you’ll be very, very tempted to grab one and cram into your mouth hot, let the tray or dish rest and cool down at least a few minutes. Or longer, if it’s a bake for a social gathering – which, in truth, it is ideal for.

And pity those who know nothing but supermarket sliced white.

More sourdough bread roll recipes

Crusty and chewy dinner rolls, French dimple rolls made with sourdough starter. Dimple rolls shaped like coffee beans are perfect for sharing.

My own Golden Gate bread rolls, made with San Francisco style sourdough. These square smooth crusty bread rolls are perfect company to a bowl of soup and they also make mean panini.

Seelen means souls in German, and in Schwabia it means fantastically tasty spelt sourdough bread rolls, rustic and completely artisan.

More tear and share bread recipes

Kubaneh, Yemeni Jewish bread traditionally baked slowly overnight, is the original croissant except with none of the hassle and lots of fun in the making.

Partybrot, German party bread rolls to tear and share. This is an easy and simple recipe for pull-apart bread, little brown and white rolls baked together in a round tin. Various options include cheese partybrot or herb partybrot.

Chinese flower shaped bread rolls, baked in the oven, are buttery and spiced with za’atar and chives instead of traditional spring onions. Just so I can have them for breakfast!

pull apart sourdough filled dinner rolls

Pull apart sourdough rolls

Servings: 19Time: 60 hours


  • For the sponge:
  • 50g sourdough starter
  • 100g strong white bread flour
  • 100g water, at room temperature
  • For the ferment:
  • 200g sponge, from above
  • 350g warm water
  • 250g strong white bread flour
  • 50g light rye flour
  • 50g wholemeal flour
  • For the white rolls:
  • ½ the ferment from above
  • 125g strong white bread flour
  • 6g fine salt
  • For the brown rolls:
  • ½ the ferment from above
  • 120g wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp black molasses
  • 6g fine salt
  • For the fillings:
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • a handful of basil leaves
  • black pepper
  • 50g mixed pitted olives
  • 50g hard cheese, Gruyere or Comte
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp honey
  • For the topping:
  • 1 egg beaten with 2 tbsp water
  • black and white sesame seeds, poppy seeds and oat flakes or similar contrasting toppings


This is cold proving sourdough made over three days.

Day 1

1. In the evening, refresh the starter with flour and water. Leave in a warm place overnight. If your starter is quite old, start in the morning and refresh it twice.

Day 2

2. Mix the sponge with the water, leave it for a few minutes to disperse. Place the flours in a large bowl. Pour in the sourdough mix and stir to a rough dough. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave in a warm place for 1 hour.

3. Now divide the ferment between two bowls: you should have about 450g for each half. Add the flour and salt to the portion for white rolls and the wholemeal flour, the molasses, salt and cocoa to the other portion. Knead each dough in a standing mixer with the dough hook attachment until smooth and elastic. If doing it by hand, flatten the piece of dough on a worktop and roll it up into a cylinder. Turn it 90 degrees seam side up; flatten it again pressing with your fingers and roll up in the other direction to form a shorter cylinder. Repeat this until the dough shows resistance to being flattened and rolled again, about 10 repetitions in all. Place both pieces in plastic containers or bags and leave them in the fridge for 24 hours.

Day 3

4. Remove the dough from the fridge and bring it to room temperature, it will take at least an hour. In the meantime prepare the fillings.

5. For the garlic pesto, mash the garlic cloves in a pestle and mortar with a little black pepper and the basil leaves.
For the tapenade, whiz the olives in a blender or food processor to a paste.
For the cheese filling, cut the cheese into small dice.
For the tomato, mix the tomato puree with the honey.

6. Divide the white dough into 9 pieces and the brown dough into 10; each weighing about 60g. Flatten each piece and spread with the filling; be sparing with tomato and garlic as those are wet and the roll might not seal well. Roll up each piece into a little sausage, then roll it up again in the other direction; pinch the bottom to seal it and shape it into a ball.

7. Prepare a round tin or baking dish about 25 – 30cm (10in) in diameter; brush the sides with butter and line the bottom with baking parchment.

8. Place 12 balls evenly around the outer edge of the dish alternating the white with the brown ones. Next place 6 balls in the inner ring and the final brown one in the centre. Cover the dish with cling film or place it in a plastic bag and leave to prove in a warm place for 90 minutes; until the rolls have doubled in size and are all touching each other.

9. In the meantime preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6. Place a small container with water on the bottom of the oven for moisture release (or use a spray bottle when the bread goes in).

10. When the rolls have risen, brush them all with the egg wash and sprinkle the dark seeds on the white ones; and the lighter ones on the brown rolls.

11. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden and crusty. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack or keep in the dish if it’s nice enough.

Originally published: Mon, 11 September, 2017

NEW recipe finder

Ingredients lying around and no idea what to cook with them? Then use my NEW Recipe Finder for inspiration!

Recipe Finder

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published

Characters left 800
Recipe rating
Email address*
Web site name
Be notified by email when a comment is posted

* required

Cuisine Fiend's

most recent

About me

Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


Sign up to receive the weekly recipes updates

Follow Fiend