The Reason You Should Try Adding Oats To Your Homemade Dinner Rolls

It takes just flour, yeast, and water to make bread, but the resulting loaf can vary significantly depending on a number of factors. Some recipes call for bread flour which is higher in protein, while others require a longer kneading time to develop more gluten. Quick-rise bread is made with instant yeast, while others require at least 24 hours of proofing. Asian-type bread, like Hong Kong-style pineapple buns, is typically pillowy soft with a sweeter flavor, while Western ones mostly have more air pockets and a crisp crust. 

As the Michelin Guide explains, the main difference lies in a technique invented by the Japanese called tangzhong. Tangzhong entails combining a portion of the flour with equal water and boiling the mixture in a pot until a dough forms. This dough is then added to the rest of the ingredients. Because the water gets locked into the flour through the cooking process, the excess moisture creates an ultra-soft bread. According to Cook's Illustrated, the same technique is the key to making the fluffiest dinner rolls.

Oats are more absorbent with the tangzhong technique

Tangzhong is usually done with refined white flour, Cook's Illustrated says; however, it works better when you use oats instead because they are much more naturally absorbent than flour. The reason for this, the publication explains, is that oats are a fully intact whole grain and still contain the layer of pentosan that gets milled down into starch and turned into refined flour. Pentosan and starch both soak up liquids, but the amount that pentosan can retain is higher — about 10 times its weight. When you make your tangzhong dough using oats, any bread or dinner rolls you add it to will turn out extra fluffy.

According to King Arthur Baking, this works for three reasons: The tangzhong dough traps in water and yields a softer texture, and the excess moisture causes the bread to steam and rise more in the oven. Finally, it's easier to knead because the cooked tangzhong dough retains the water. All of these steps combined ultimately make your dinner rolls fluffy, moist, and softer for longer.