Big Fluffy Buns

By Chef Megan Joy / July 30, 2012

I rarely buy bread products from the grocery store. They smell funny- like chemicals. And I don’t want all those preservatives in my body. Most people wouldn’t either, if they realized what goes into that stuff.

So this time of year when the grill gets fired up, a bad bun can completely ruin a potentially delicious sandwich. I love sandwiches, so this is something I take very seriously.

Last week my wing-woman Meredith and I were dog-sitting for our friends Megan and Dane. It turned out to be the perfect day. We joined forces with two other friends and took the dogs with us up by Vail Pass to Shrine Ridge Trail. It’s a gentle incline with picturesque Colorado views.


Rather than driving home on I-70, we took Shrine Pass to Red Cliff. You can’t drive through Red Cliff hungry and not stop at Mango’s for their famous fish tacos. We had a lot of good laughs and our lungs were full of fresh mountain air. Bliss. I think the dogs had fun, too.

During lunch, we brainstormed some ideas for dinner. Grilled chicken tucked into homemade buns with romaine, parmesan cheese, fresh tomatoes, and caesar dressing. I volunteered to make the buns.

Fortunately for me, making a yeast bread product takes significantly less time up here. Bread doughs rise super fast, and I mean it. Turn around five minutes later and you will already notice a change in your dough. If you’re looking for a deeply developed yeast flavor, punch your dough down and let it rise again. You can also put it in the refrigerator and let it rise slower overnight.

I altered a roll recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather. I substituted some whole wheat flour, added a touch of sea salt to the tops of the buns, and made them big. The finished result is a wholesome, satisfying, fluffy bun that’s large enough to pack all kinds of delicious fillings inside.

Tuck this recipe away for an easy meal inspiration. No sandwich should suffer bad bread!

How to make this high altitude recipe:

Rocket Rolls adapted from The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather

4.8 from 4 reviews
Big Fluffy Buns
Recipe type: High Altitude
  • 1 tablespoon dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • ¼ canola or safflower oil
  • 1 egg
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 1½ cups water
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • pinch of ground cinnamon
  • Olive oil for brushing on the rolls
  • Extra sea salt
  1. Dissolve the yeast in the 1 cup of warm water and let it sit for 5 minutes, until foamy.
  2. Using a mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast mixture, oil, egg, and sugar.
  3. Add the 1½ cups water and mix until combined.
  4. Add the flours and mix on medium-low speed until the dough holds together, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the salt and cinnamon and mix the dough on low speed another minute.
  6. Transfer the dough to a large bowl that has been lightly greased with oil.
  7. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 25-30 minutes.
  8. Preheat your oven to 350 F.
  9. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  10. Punch down the dough and pinch off tennis ball-size pieces of dough, you should have about 12 pieces..
  11. Arrange the rounds on your parchment-lined baking sheets and brush them with olive oil. Sprinkle a few flakes of sea salt on top.
  12. Let them rise for about 10 minutes until they have almost doubled and have the consistency of soft marshmallows.
  13. Bake the rolls for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
Note: This recipe was adjusted for high altitude baking. To prepare at sea level, increase the sugar to 3/4 cup and note that the dough will take longer to rise and bake. For the first rise, allow about 1 1/2 hours. The second rise will take about 20 minutes, and they will bake for 20-30 minutes. As with any variation in altitude, more flour or water may be needed to accommodate the dryness of flour.

About the author

Chef Megan Joy

grandma Pat - July 30, 2012

see you are using recipes from book I got you. Remember there is another holiday coming up shortly which requires adding to the collection. We can accommodate. Miss you, hope to see you soon. How is the Club Soda deal developing?

Love grandma

Deb - August 4, 2012

I enjoyed the photos of your day trip and seeing more of the area around Vail. Big, fluffy buns is a apt description! I am coveting one warm from the oven with pat of melting butter, scrumptious!

Sue - August 9, 2012

Just found your blog. I live at 9200 ft. I find that, at this altitude, if I want the well developed yeast flavor, I reduce the yeast by 1/3. (Recipe calls for 1 tbsp, I use 2 tsp.)

    Chef Megan Joy - August 27, 2012

    Thanks for the suggestion Sue!

Hannah - November 4, 2012

I just found your Blog..I moved from NY to Steamboat Co about a year ago. None of my east coast baking recipes are the same.I am a chef and have had alot of difficulty finding good recipes and altering baking recipes for the high altitude!!!! Thank-you Thank-You!!!!!! Finally some good bread recipes..I just made these rolls tonight..Viola! (I topped them with sesame and poopy seeds) I can’t wait to try some other recipes..Can you sujest a good Pullman Loaf? Thanks Hannah

    ReniLyn - December 14, 2013

    Hi Hannah,

    I know it’s been more than a year, but I live in Co. Springs and have a ton of Pullman recipes I’ve finally “fixed” for us altitude challenged folk. LOL Let me know if you are still in need.

Arlie Rogers - November 21, 2012

Attempting to make these for the first time in Denver. They are in the oven and I can
t wait to eat them with some good swiss butter. If they turn out the plan is serve them tomorrow at the Thanksgiving feast! Thanks!

Allison - March 30, 2013

Approximately how many rolls does this recipe yield?

    Chef Megan Joy - March 30, 2013

    This recipe makes about 12 rolls, depending on the size you make them. If made smaller, you may end up with 14-16.

Stephanie - March 16, 2014

I just wanted to say thank you so much for posting this recipe! I just moved to high altitute and I’ve been having trouble getting fluffy breads to be fluffy. This worked magically. My boyfriend and his son have already eaten half of them and they keep making the appreciative “MMM!” and “OOOH! *under-breath-chuckle*” sounds after every bite and are requesting that I keep a steady flow of these coming out of the oven. New family favorite, for sure 🙂

Stephanie - March 16, 2014

Oops, forgot to rate it …

Mimmie - November 27, 2014

Thanks Megan! Just made these and they came out great! Happy Thanksgiving!

patty mc donald - December 15, 2014

thanks for the info. i want to know one thing i live in Ecuador they have no sea salt . what can i do use reg. salt but less or what?

    Chef Megan Joy - December 17, 2014

    Hi Patty, you can definitely use regular salt or kosher salt in place of the sea salt. For this recipe, the salt is sprinkled on top just to give a little extra flavor to the buns. Use as much or as little of the salt you have as you want, to best fit your taste preferences. Happy baking!

anji - December 23, 2014

Not sure what happened. I followed the recipe exactly, except I had to add extra flour just to be able to handle it. After the first rising, the dough was so incredibly sticky that I could only drop gloppy balls into the pan! Second “high altitude” recipe I’ve tried, and neither worked. Getting so very frustrated!

    Chef Megan Joy - December 24, 2014

    Hi Anji, I’m sorry to hear you’ve been having trouble baking bread at high altitude. Without seeing you make the dough, it’s hard to say what could be the culprit. Are you using the right kind of flour, all-purpose or bread flour? Is your water temperature slightly warm, but not hot? Is your yeast active dry, not ‘rapid rise’ or bread machine yeast? Are you measuring your flour correctly? How warm is your kitchen (Did the dough rise too fast?)?Other factors I can think of are the freshness of your flour (is it too old?), the type of flour (is it too low in gluten?) and did you overknead the dough (it loses its elasticity). I would double check all of these conditions and I recommend starting with a very basic, simple recipe, such as Dutch Oven Bread (doesn’t require kneading!)to boost your confidence back up. We all have ‘off days’ in the kitchen and practice makes perfect. Hang in there!

Sara - January 17, 2015

Thanks for the great recipe! I have had a beast of a time baking at altitude but your recipes have all been successes.. So thanks! I just made these (in Denver). The dough take a whole to rise because of the cool temp of my house, could this have affected the density of the rolls? They didn’t come out quite as fluffy as yours look.

    Chef Megan Joy - January 19, 2015

    Hi Sara, I’m glad to hear you are having some baking successes! My first suggestion would be to check your yeast. It sounds like it may not be at its freshest anymore (it happens) and it therefore has lost some of it’s rising power. The cooler temps in your house could also play a role- if your dough didn’t rise enough you will get a denser, flatter product. When my kitchen is cool and drafty, while I’m making my dough I’ll preheat my oven to it’s lowest setting- I think that’s 175 F. Once the oven is heated, I turn it off right away. When my dough is ready for its first rise, the oven should be the perfect warm temperature (but not hot). I’ll also stick a bowl or pan of steaming water in the oven too- right on the bottom- so the yeast has a balmy, humid environment to rise in.

Click here to add a comment

Leave a comment:

Rate this recipe: