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The Best Super Soft and Chewy Hoagie Bread Rolls

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Find the recipe card at the end of the post. Make sure to read the content as it contains chef tips, substitution options, answers to FAQs to help you succeed the first time around!

The BEST soft and chewy bread roll for hoagies/submarine/grinders. Pillowy soft rolls that are begging to be filled with deliciousness!

*note this post has been drastically updated on 1/20/2020 to include more step-by-step instructions as well as detailed explanations.

Depending on what part of the country, or world, you’re from these things are called various names.  I’ve heard “Subs, Submarines, Hoagies, Grinders, Hero, Italian Sandwich, Torpedo, Blimpie, Po’Boy, and Rocket” just to name a few. 

Whatever you call it, I’m talking about those luxurious sandwiches full of meats and cheeses then wedged into a chewy, soft bread roll.

Hoagie Roll Ingredient List

  • Bread Flour – it must be at least 11-14% protein content
  • Yeast – Active Dry or Instant
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Butter
  • Sugar
  • Items for a bread wash *optional

Can I use All-Purpose Flour?

Normally I’d advise against it because you’ll end up with a different texture and outcome.

However given the current state of the world and the difficulty people are having finding bread flour, you can BUT there are differences in the outcome.

  • You won’t get the same result with US all-purpose flour as you would bread flour. The higher protein in bread flour is what gives the bread its “chew” and rise.
  • Plus, AP flour will make the bread denser. You can use it but they won’t be like classic hoagie rolls but they still will taste yummy.

Since bread flour is so hard to find (I’m feeling that pain too), grab some Vital Wheat Gluten and make your own bread flour using your AP Flour.

I have the formula on my blog. Check out this post on how to make your own bread flour.

Working with yeast – no fears, you got this!

One of the most comment comments I get when I ask why folks don’t make homemade bread at home is that they are afraid of it. They are afraid to work with yeast or aren’t sure about the techniques. Well, that’s where I’m here to help you.

Baking bread, rolls, and doughs is something I honestly find truly cathartic. It’s relaxing albeit using the stand mixer or kneading the dough by hand. Because I use only Red Star Yeasts (99.9% of the time it’s their Platinum), it’s pretty foolproof.

  • Store your yeast in a dark, cool area. I tend to store mine in the fridge or the freezer for extended storage.
  • When adding it, add it to very warm liquids (120-130F). You don’t want to add it to boiling or super hot waters as you will kill the yeast.
  • With the Instant Platinum yeast, you don’t even have to let it proof first – like how I added it in this recipe. Proofing yeast is used more for dry active yeast. Because I use the Instant Active Dry yeast, there’s no proofing involved.
    • To Proof, Active Dry Yeast, place a portion of the warm liquid in a bowl and add the yeast. Give it a little stir and let it sit for 1-5 minutes or until the yeast is completely dissolved. It should bubble up and “bloom”.
  • If, after 5 minutes the yeast isn’t bloomed then your yeast is old (expiration dates matter here!) or the liquid you used is too hot

The Best Hoagie Rolls at home – yes, you can do it!

Feel good about working with yeast? You should. It’s really easy and just don’t be afraid! You can do this!  Baking is a science and when you add ingredients it matters. Plus we need to discuss how humidity can affect how much water you put in.

  1. To the bowl of a stand mixer add in the yeast, water (use all of using Instant yeast or is using Active Dry yeast only  about 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbl) and sugar. Allow to proof for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Next, add in a few cups of flour and the rest of the water (if using Active Dry yeast). You never add in all of the flour at once as it can fly out everywhere when you turn the mixer on and it may not combine correctly. You want to mix on low until it just starts to combine. Slowly you’ll add a little more flour and salt as it mixes. This can take about 5 minutes or so.
  3. Now, depending on the temp in the kitchen or how humid it is, you can add anywhere from 3 1/2 – 4 cups of flour. Just go slow. The worst thing you can do is add too much flour because you’re impatient.
  4. At this point, your dough should start to look and feel “Slack”

What is Slack Dough?

Think of a blob. It kind of fluid but it’s not liquidy. It’s the point where if you were to dump the dough out onto a board and tried to form it into a shape, it would just blob back out and not hold a shape.

That’s what Slack Dough is. Slack dough means when then dough cannot hold a shape; it has no elasticity or spring back at all. It’s a wet dough but not too wet. It’s “billowy”. The dough is super, super soft, and smooth.

Below is what Slack dough looks like

How Humidity affects dough and bread baking

If your bread dough never turns slack there can be 2 reasons for this

  1. You didn’t mix it enough. Give it another minute or two. If it still doesn’t turn slack, add a Tbl of water at a time until it forms slack.
  2. Your house is super dry – add more a bit more water.

The rule of thumb is if your area is hot & humid then reduce the liquid by 10%.

Now, back to making the dough.

  1. Once all the flour is added and the dough is slack, add in the butter one tablespoon at a time. Just like the flour, you’ll add it in slowly allowing it to incorporate into the dough. Don’t panic if it doesn’t go in all at once or the dough looks to break down. Just be patient, it’ll combine again. Patience – that’s the key.
  2. Once it’s mostly all in, turn the mixer up to medium and mix the dough until it pulls completely away from the side and is smooth and shiny.

  1. Transfer the dough into a large, lightly spray bowl.
  2. Cover with plastic wrap or use what I use – Disposable plastic clear shower caps. They have a stretchy-band that snaps around the bowl and remained ballooned to allow the dough to proof without sticking to it.
  3. Once it’s doubled in size, it’s time to shape the hoagie rolls.

How to shape hoagie bread rolls

  1. Punch the dough down and place on a very lightly floured board. I would advise using as little flour as possible when shaping these. The more flour you add, the tougher the hoagies will be.
  2. Divide into 4-8 pieces and shape. *See below on how to shape!
  3. Once shaped, transfer to a parchment-lined tray and cover with lightly sprayed plastic wrap. Allow to rise again until almost doubled. ~30-45 minutes. Do NOT overproof them otherwise they will fall flat

Chef’s Tips on shaping hoagie rolls

Shaping does take practice but that’s the fun of baking, right?!

  1. When you divide the dough, with your fingers, gently pat it into a rectangle where the dough is about 1/4″ thick.
  2. Next, fold the upper quarter (like an envelope) towards the center and press gently to seal.
  3. Rotate the dough 180 degrees (so the last fold faces away from you) and repeat the above folding step then using your hand to seal the dough seams as you fold it. What you’re doing is folding the dough into itself.
  4. At this point, your dough is almost shaped like a log/snake. Gently cup your hand over the center of the dough and, without applying pressure/pressing down, gently roll the dough back and forth to reinforce the seal and roll it out into a log.
  5. I then grab the ends, lightly, and carefully pull them outwards to help stretch out dough (just an inch or so – again dependent on how long you want your rolls).
  6. To help round out the ends, cup each hand at the end of the roll and move them in opposite directions with a back and forth motion to roll the ends and then tuck underneath the roll.
  7. At this point, they are ready for the next rise.

Adding Slashes/Slits

While completely not necessary, you can add slashes/slits to the rolls before they bake to give them a prettier look. Cutting them adds zero taste value; it just pretties them up. 

However, it does help with the texture. Did you ever make or buy bread that has a huge bubble or has a blowout? The bread “ruptures” in a sense. By scoring the bread, you can help control where the gas can escape without destroying how the bread looks.

I use a Lame to do mine.

A lame is a handle that has a very thin razor blade on the end of it specifically used for bread slashing.  In a quick motion, make a slash (or multiple slashes) down the center of the bread but not going in deep. You’re going in maybe a 1/4″ at best.

Can I use a sharp knife instead?

Personally, I would say no as the blade isn’t thin enough and the knife may not be super, SUPER sharp. You could risk tearing the bread instead of a quick, pretty slash.

Coating your rolls before baking

You do not have to coat these if you do not want to. They will bake up beautifully and taste amazing BUT they won’t really have that deep color, crust, or shine like the ones most pizzerias have. Again, not a bad thing. Go with what you like.

When it comes to these rolls, depending on the application you use to coat, you’ll end up with different results. For my hoagie rolls, I use egg whites mixed with just a Tbl of milk

  • Whole egg: this will give your bread a sheen and color
  • Egg Yolk: this will give your bread color and will help brown it
  • Egg White: Will give you a firmer crust
  • Milk: will give your crust color
  • Butter: will make your crust softer and richer
  • Egg White with Milk: will give you a firmer crust and deeper crust color

 Cutting your hoagie rolls

At first cut, the bread insides are so soft and billowy.  It’s as if it’s held together by pockets of air and strands of sweet dough. 

While it’s hard to resist, I HIGHLY recommend waiting about 10 minutes before trying to slice into these hoagie rolls. If you don’t, you risk tearing the bread (even with the best of bread knives) because it’s simply too hot and too soft inside.

Trust me on this, it’s worth the wait!

I would HIGHLY recommend using a quality bread knife to slice these as the rolls are soft and chewy and nothing is worse when cutting into them with a crappy knife! You’ll love this knife! Sani-Safe S162-8SC-PCP 8″ Scalloped Bread Knife with Polypropylene Handle Pan is a great knife that’s affordable!

How to use The Best Hoagie Bread Roll Recipe

There’s no limit to how you can use these hoagie rolls or what you can put in or on them.

  • Italian Rocket Hoagie or any favorite hoagie topping such as steak, meatball, cheese, pizza… you get the idea!)
  • Meatball Hoagie like the pics below – use any of my meatball recipes, top with sauce of choice, cheese, and bake at 400F for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted
  • French Bread Pizza – split in half, top each side with cheese and pizza toppings. Bake at 400F until the cheese is melted
  • Stuffed Breakfast Boats – these were such a HUGE seller at our pizzeria (even though they were on the ‘secret’ menu
  • Make them smaller as dinner rolls and, while still warm, top with honey cinnamon butter right before serving

How to store your Best Soft and Chewy Hoagie Rolls

Store them uncut.  When you’re storing overnight, you’ll want to store in a paper bag OR, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and then in a plastic bag. Air is your enemy here.

Freezing

These rolls can be frozen either before they are baked or after.

Post-baking

  • I personally prefer to freeze these after they are baked. Simply wrap each cooled loaf in plastic wrap, twice and place it in a freezer-safe bag for up to 3 months.

Pre-baking

  1. If you do this add a little more yeast (about a tsp more) to the recipe. This ensures that the post-freeze rise will give you a gorgeous result.
  2. Allow the dough to proof and then shape on a parchment-lined pan.
  3. Wrap the pan with plastic wrap. Once each loaf is frozen stiff, wrap each roll twice in plastic wrap. Store in a freezer-safe bag for up to 6 months.
  4. To use frozen dough rolls, remove a loaf from the freezer the night before you want to bake it. Keep the loaf wrapped in the plastic and let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  5. Place the thawed dough in a greased bread pan, cover, and let it rise in a warm, dry place. Bake the bread per the recipe below.

Chef Tips About Bread Baking

  • As mentioned above, humidity and heat in your kitchen will drastically affect the dough texture (too wet/too dry while mixing) as well as proofing.
  • If your kitchen is warmer, your bread will rise faster. Think of bread dough like a toddler. You really can’t let it be unsupervised for very long. Use the times as a guideline but your eyes will be your best judge.
  • If you overproof your dough it will fall flat when it bakes. The gluten structure will be too weak to hold the gas production.
  • USE GENTLE HANDS when shaping your dough.
  • Make sure your yeast is FRESH!
  • Watch your oven as it bakes. If your oven thermostat is on the fritz this can affect your bread either baking too fast leading to burnt bread on the outside and raw on the inside.
  • Just relax. If you don’t get it perfect the first time, try again. Ask questions if you’re not sure what went wrong. The biggest things are:
    • Not mixing your dough enough before the first proof
    • Too rough on shaping it and you lost the gas in it
    • Over proofed the 2nd shape and the bread went flat upon baking
    • Your oven thermostat is on the fritz
  • PATIENCE – BE PATIENT and keep dumping in more flour or water. Rome wasn’t built in a day, just as the dough won’t come together in a minute or two.


Subbing Sourdough Starter

I get asked this question a lot. I never use sourdough starter in this recipe as I love it as-is however you can sub in sourdough starter with some recipe modifications.

  • 8 ounces of ripened sourdough starter
  • Reduce the total flour to 334-339 grams
  • Reduce the total water to 177-237 grams

Print

The Best Super Soft and Chewy Hoagie Rolls

  • Author: The Kitchen Whisperer
  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 25 minutes
  • Category: bread
  • Method: oven
  • Cuisine: baking

The BEST soft and chewy bread roll for hoagies/submarine/grinders. Pillowy soft rolls that are begging to be filled with deliciousness!

Ingredients

  • 3 1/24 cups bread flour/448-512 grams
  • 1 1/4 cups plus 2 Tbl – 1 1/2 cups warm water (110-115F degrees) / 308-355 grams
  • 2 Tbl sugar
  • 1 packet instant yeast (2 1/4 tsp of RedStar Platinum Yeast)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 Tbl cold butter, cubed

Instructions

Using Active Dry Yeast? Start here

  1. If using Active Dry Yeast (not the Instant I use) you have to proof the yeast first. Add the Active Dry Yeast, sugar and 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbl warm water in a bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Using a whisk or spoon, mix and set aside for 5-10 minutes or until the yeast has bubbled quite a bit.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook (this would be the same bowl your yeast mixture is in) add in 2 cups of flour and remaining cup of water. Start off on low. Mix for 4 minutes.
  4. Go to Step 1 of Recipe Continuation and follow the rest of the recipe

Using Instant Yeast? Start here

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook add in 2 cups of flour, water, sugar, and Instant Yeast.  Start off on low. Mix for 4 minutes.
  2. Go to Step 1 of Recipe Continuation and follow the rest of the recipe.

Recipe Continuation

  1. Add in the salt and 1 cup at a time of the remaining flour and mix for 5-6 minutes until the dough is slack (See note). At this point, your mixer should be at medium speed. If your dough, after 5-6 minutes is not slack add in a bit more water (2-4 Tbl). The additional water will fully depend on how humid your room is.
  2. Add in the butter 1 Tbl at a time and mix until almost fully melded in before adding the next Tbl.  In total, mix for 1-3 minutes or until the dough comes back together. Remove from bowl and transfer to a greased, covered bowl until doubled in size. ~1 hour.
  3. Punch the dough down and place on a very lightly floured board. Divide into 4-8 pieces and shape. I would advise using as little flour as possible when shaping these. The more flour you add, the tougher the hoagies will be. Transfer to a parchment lined tray and cover with lightly sprayed plastic wrap. Allow to rise again until almost doubled. ~30-45 minutes. Do NOT overproof them otherwise they will fall flat.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 F. If you want to slash your bread, using a lame, make your slashes. If desired, brush with coating of choice and bake for 16-23 minutes or until golden brown. To ensure doneness, test the internal bread temp. It should be at 200F.
  5. Allow to cool before cutting with a quality bread knife ( Sani-Safe S162-8SC-PCP 8″ Scalloped Bread Knife with Polypropylene Handle Pan )

Notes

Water

Depending on the type of bread flour as well as how humid your kitchen in you may need to increase the water to 1 1/2 cups (which is only another 2 Tbl more than originally). At times I’ve had to actually go up to 1 3/4 cups total but that was due to how humid my house was at the time.

Slack Dough

Slack dough means when then dough cannot hold a shape; it has no elasticity or spring back at all. It’s wet dough but not too wet. It’s “billowy”. The dough is super, super soft and smooth.

Equipment

I would HIGHLY recommend using a quality bread knife to slice these as the rolls are soft and chewy and nothing is worse when cutting into them with a crappy knife! You’ll love this knife! Sani-Safe S162-8SC-PCP 8″ Scalloped Bread Knife with Polypropylene Handle Pan

Coating your bread

  • Whole egg: this will give your bread a sheen and color
  • Egg Yolk: this will give your bread color and will help brown it
  • Egg White: Will give you a firmer crust
  • Milk: will give your crust color
  • Butter: will make your crust softer and richer

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