There's no real story behind why I wanted to create my own version of Hawaiian rolls except for the fact that I love them. Our house was exactly like the King Hawaiian Rolls commercialsMom couldn't hide them from us, and they would inevitably be gone before she had the chance to use them for the purpose for which she bought them.
Soft and fluffy, slightly sweet, yet still savory, these rolls are a great accompaniment to any meal. They work perfectly for pulled pork sliders, or Sloppy Joe's (do people still eat those). They sop up the juices of any barbecue plate or Kahlua pork, and pair very well with a hearty bowl of chili or chowder.
A little pineapple juice and bit of brown sugar give this yeasted dough its sweetness and color. A double rise gives the bread its superb pillowy texture. These are sure to be a crowd pleaser!!
The Recipe: Hawaiian Rolls
yields ~ 15 rolls
The Bits and Bobs:
for the sponge starter:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (or bread flour for a chewier texture)
1 tbsp instant yeast (not dry active bc the sugar content is too high in this recipe)
2 tbsp luke warm water
for the dough:
1/2 cup pineapple juice, room temp (canned is fine)
4 tbsp butter, room temp
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 whole + 1 yolk eggs (save white for brushing before baking)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (or bread flour for a chewier texture)
2 tbsp arrowroot flour or potato flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
coarse sea salt for sprinkling (optional)
for the sponge starter: in the bowl of your mixer (or whatever big bowl you plan to mix in) combine all of the sponge ingredients and allow to rest for at least 15 mins. It will be very thick and might look dry, that's ok.
After the sponge has rested, add the pineapple juice, butter, brown sugar, eggs and yolk, vanilla. Whisk together until well combined. Might take some elbow grease to get that sponge fully incorporated. Will not be smooth.
Mix in the dry ingredients until incorporated with the wet, then switch out to the hook attachment if you are using a stand mixer. Knead for about 5 minutes on medium speed (or ten to 15 minutes on a floured surface if doing so by hand). The dough should form a soft ball and only be slightly tacky/sticky.
Lightly grease a large mixing bowl with butter, oil, or cooking spray. Round out the dough and place ball in the greased bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 1.5-2 hours or until doubled in size and very puffy. If it hasn't doubled in size, allow to sit for another 30 minutes.
Lightly grease a 13x9inch pan. Gently deflate the dough and divide into 15 pieces. Round out each piece into a smooth ball and place in greased pan. Cover the dough again in plastic wrap and allow to rise for another hour; or if you are making ahead, allow to rise overnight in the fridge and allow to come to room temp for about an hour before baking.
Preheat the oven to 350*F. Mix the saved egg white with 1 tbsp of water and brush the surface of each roll. Sprinkle with a little coarse sea salt if using.
Bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes. The tops should be a nice golden brown and the internal temp should read 190*F. If you find the tops are browning too quickly in the oven, tent with foil and continue to bake at the same temp.
Remove the rolls from the oven, allow to cool in pan for 5-10 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling.