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The Ultimate Guide to Perfect Looking Breads and Rolls. Learn what 12 different washes did for the tops of our dinner rolls.
When I first got married, I was obsessed with finding our own family recipes. The recipes I would make every holiday and every time guests came over. I wanted the recipes to be so good that people wouldn’t just ask for the recipe, they would say “I NEED that recipe”.
Dinner rolls were high on my list to perfect. And we did find that recipe. This recipe is what kickstarted our search for the best cinnamon rolls. If you haven’t tried our homemade dinner rolls, please do. They are buttery and soft and go well with everything from chicken and noodles to a Thanksgiving turkey dinner.
From Day 1 I knew the dinner roll recipe tasted perfect, but a few years later I wanted my rolls to look perfect, too. How exactly did bakers get that golden brown, shiny top to their rolls? Or the buttery roll that didn’t shine but was oh, so soft on top?
If you’re looking of the perfect bread glaze for your dinner rolls or homemade bread recipes, this is your guide. I tested 12 different bread washes that go on before baking, and I tested a couple that get glazed after baking as well.
You choose which bread glaze looks appetizing to you. Get ready to impress your family and friends!
A bread wash is a liquid that is applied to the top of bread dough before it goes into the oven. Without a bread wash, some rolls and bread can be dull and pale in appearance and may not be as appetizing looking as you’d like. Bread washes have varying results: shiny, golden brown, light brown, matte, salty and even sweet.
Bread washes generally include one or a combination of the following:
I’ll show you the result of each combination below.
If you like to watch rather than read, here’s quick recap of the results:
I tested our dinner roll recipe with 12 different types of bread washes. I’ll show you a picture of how each turned out, plus explain the look and texture of each.
For starters, though, our first wash is actually no wash at all. This is the control of our experiment. Here’s how dinner rolls with no wash look. Still nice and golden brown:
I used a silicone pastry brush to brush the washes on each dough ball.
Wash recipe: 1 large egg yolk + 1 tablespoon heavy cream, whisked in a bowl
Appearance: These were the darkest rolls, thanks to the fat from the yolk and the cream. These were almost as shiny as the egg only wash.
Texture: The tops were a little heavier due to the fat as well. Very pretzel-like.
Wash recipe: Olive oil
Appearance: Matte finish. Almost identical to the butter brushed rolls.
Texture: Same as with the butter, when fresh from the oven they had a slight crispness to the tops, but that softens quickly as they cool.
The differences aren’t as noticeable in pictures as they are in person, but there are definitely differences. Here’s what you should know.
The washes don’t change the flavor a lot, except for my beloved brushed butter 😋 , but as far as looks go, my family chose the egg white + cream wash as the roll that they would choose.
Why? Because it had a golden brown look without being too “orange” from the egg yolk. It had a traditional look with a nice shine.
If you’re looking for a new recipe to try one of these bread washes, here are our favorites: