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No Knead Cloverleaf Rolls

No knead cloverleaf rolls perfect individual sized dinner rolls.  No ripping or breaking apart needed. Just bake them in a muffin tin and pop them out.

Four cloverleaf rolls on a white plate

Cloverleaf rolls are an American favorite named not for the type of bread but for their shape.  Just like actual cloverleafs they have three parts that can be pulled away.

These rolls are perfect for family dinners and holidays.  Like yeast rolls, dinner rolls, and crescent rolls, cloverleaf rolls are particularly popular around Thanksgiving.  

I love bread so I will make them even just to have as a treat during the week. These rolls are also great for Thanksgiving because you prep them ahead of time.

These no knead cloverleaf rolls are extremely light and fluffy and couldn’t be easier to make.  All you do is mix the ingredients together and let it rise overnight in the fridge.

The next morning you press it down, make the balls, and let them rise in a warm place.  When they have you just bake them and you’re ready to eat.

Two things to keep in my though:  

No knead dough is very sticky so use plenty of flour when working with it.  

The other thing is that you may be able to skip letting it rise overnight in the fridge.  

I once read that you can just let it rise in a warm place until it triples in size but I’ve never done this.  

Every time I’ve tried I’ve gotten busy and ended up sticking it in the fridge to make in the morning.

Still, if you’re interested, it’s an option.

Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

20% of all profits are donated to a women’s shelter to support the fight against domestic violence.

What you need

Dry measuring cups and spoons
Liquid measuring cup
Mixing bowl
Damp towel
Baking spatula
Muffin pans
Cooling rack

BREAD FLOUR VS ALL PURPOSE FLOUR

Bread flour has a higher protein content than all-purpose, which helps with gluten development.

Some recipes call for it if an especially chewy texture is desired.  It will also produce a heavier and denser loaf.

All-purpose flour has a lower protein content, but can generally be substituted for bread flour.

I almost never use anything other than all-purpose flour, including in bread recipes. I like it because it’s inexpensive and extremely versatile.

Types of YEAST

There are seven different types of yeast used for baking.  However, only five are relevant to home bakers:

WILD YEAST

Wild yeast is found naturally in the air.  This type of yeast is used for sourdough breads, and in order to use it, you need to make a sourdough starter.

FRESH YEAST

Fresh yeast (a.k.a. cake yeast), block yeast, wet yeast, or compressed yeast is found in small, foil-wrapped cubes.  

It is far less popular with home bakers because it’s highly perishable. However, it is still widely available for commercial use and is still used by home bakers in some countries.

The benefits of using it is that it’s easier to measure and has the most leavening power.

If you want to use fresh yeast in this recipe, for every 1 teaspoon instant dry yeast you’d need 17 grams (or .6 ounces) of fresh yeast.

Make sure to bloom it before using it in this recipe.

ACTIVE DRY YEAST

Active dry yeast looks like large grained powder mainly used by home bakers in the States.

It has a much longer lifespan than compressed yeast, lasting up to a year at room temperature and more than a decade if frozen.

Unlike other types of yeast, it needs to proof first. This means it is rehydrated in warm liquid such as water or milk to activate it.

The main downside of using this is that a lot of the yeast is already dead, so you need more of it than other yeasts.  This can cause an undesired yeast flavor.

If you want to use active dry yeast in this recipe, for 1 teaspoon of instant dry yeast you need 1 1/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast.

Make sure to bloom it first before using it in this recipe.

INSTANT YEAST

Instant yeast looks the same as active dry yeast. However, it does not need to be proofed before using. Instead of having to be activated in warm liquid first, it can be added as is when making the dough.

It is more perishable than active dry yeast, lasting only 2 to 4 months at room temperature and for years in the freezer.

This is my favorite type of yeast to use because it lasts longer than fresh yeast and you need less of it than active dry yeast.

Typically, it will be 1 teaspoon of active dry yeast for every cup of flour called for in a recipe.

RAPID-RISE YEAST

Rapid-rise yeast is often specifically marketed toward users of bread machines.  It’s essentially instant yeast with a smaller grain. The smaller granules allow it to dissolve faster in the dough and therefore rise faster.  

While most baking experts believe that the bread flavors aren’t as developed by using this yeast, others feel it makes little difference.

WHY BlOOM INSTANT YEAST?

As mentioned above, active dry yeast needs to be bloomed (aka proofed) before use to activate it, but I also proof instant yeast. The reason for this is because it helps troubleshoot if any problems come up.  

By blooming the yeast first, you know it is active. So, if the dough has trouble rising, you know it’s not the yeast.

This is particularly useful when you don’t have a “warm” place to let it rise.

How to Bloom Yeast

To bloom, place the yeast, warm water, and sugar together in the bowl. Stir and wait for it to activate.

You know the yeast is activated when foam appears on the surface. This can take up to 10 minutes.

Please note that hot water will kill the yeast and cool water won’t activate it. Lukewarm water is ideal.

If you are using fresh yeast, make sure to break it up with a fork once it is in the water.

No Knead

Like most no knead recipes, these rolls call to sit in the fridge overnight. I once read that you can just let them triple in a warm place, and if you like to experiment, you may want to try that.

I’ve wanted to try it myself, but every time I have, I ended up needing to leave the house so they went into the fridge.

To be honest, up until recently I didn’t like the idea of overnight recipes. If I’m making it, it’s because I want to eat it now.

However, as life has become busier, I’ve come to love them. I mix everything up, cover it with a damp towel, and stick it in the fridge before I rush out the door.

Then, the next morning, I just take it out, finish the recipe, and I have incredible cinnamon rolls ready to be eaten.

A Note on No knead

Something to keep in mind when working with a no knead recipe is that things get sticky.  Very sticky.

I’ve never made a no knead recipe where I didn’t have to use a bunch of flour to shape it.  

This recipe is no exception. You’ll want to keep plenty of flour on hand.

PUNCHING DOUGH DOWN

“Punching” is a bit of a strong word.  Yeast is a delicate living thing so you actually need to treat it with care.  What you’re really doing is lightly pressing down the dough through the center with your fist.

Punching dough removes gases that have formed during the first rise, allowing for a better crumb.  By doing this, you are also bringing the yeast, sugar, and moisture back together. This is important for the second rise as the yeast feeds on the sugar.

After you “punch” the dough, you should pull edges of the dough to the center. Once you’re done, place the dough on a lightly floured board and shape your dough into a ball. If desired, you can knead the dough two or three times to release additional air bubbles.

LET THE DOUGH REST

While you don’t need to let the dough rest after punching it down, it is preferable to.  If you have the time, allow the dough to rest between 10 to 40 minutes. Ideally no less than 15 minutes.  This will allow the gluten to relax making the dough easier to roll out and shape.

I often allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes in the fridge with a damp towel. Chilled dough can be easier to work with – especially sticky no knead dough.

THE SECOND RISE

The second rise allows the yeast to feed longer on the sugar.  This allows the bread to become larger, have a better crumb, and develop a better flavor.

Also, if you were to let it rise only once, punch it down, shape it, and stick it in the oven, your bread would rise somewhat, but not enough for it to become fluffy.  

HOW TO RISE DOUGH FASTER

I often find myself running late and need to rise dough faster, or sometimes, in the winter, I don’t have a warm place and the dough takes forever to rise.  So, I let my dough rise in a warm oven.

What I do is preheat the oven to its lowest temperature and turn it off.  Then, I cover the dough with a damp towel and place the oven.

This trick works for me every time.  On occasion, I may need to remove the dough and preheat the oven another time or two, but usually just once does the trick.

The down side of this process is that some bakers feel it doesn’t allow for flavors to really develop.  Personally, I never noticed much of a difference.

HOW TO MEASURE FLOUR AND OTHER DRY INGREDIENTS

Using a dry measuring cup, scoop ingredients from the bag or spoon them into the cup.  Next, level off the ingredient by removing the excess with an upside-down butter knife.

The one exception to this is brown sugar.  Brown sugar should be packed down and then any excess should be scraped off as well.

DRY VS LIQUID MEASURING CUP

Ever wonder why measuring spoons often come with a set of measuring cups?  I used to.  I didn’t see why we needed a set when we could have one large measuring cup. 

After a quick search, I had my answer.  I discovered that the large measuring cup is used for liquids, whereas the set is used for dry ingredients.

As it turns out, if you try to measure dry ingredients with a liquid cup, the measurements get messed up. 

First, you pour the flour or cocoa in, next you shake it around to get it level, and then you add more. 

By shaking it, you are causing the powder to settle, and when you add more, you end up using more than called for.

WHY SIFT FLOUR and Other Powder Ingredients

There are a number of benefits to sifting flour and other ingredients like cocoa ingredients: 

It removes any unwanted debris and you can get a more accurate measurement than when packed tight in a bag. 

It also removes any lumps that can get into the batter and be hard to break up later, or be missed altogether before baking.

If you sift the powdered ingredients together, it helps combine them and mix more evenly with other dry ingredients like sugar.

BAKING WITH OIL

In general, oil in baked goods makes for a superior texture than those made with butter.  

Oil cakes tend to bake up taller with a better crumb. They also stay moist and tender far longer than recipes made with butter.

Furthermore, since oil is lighter than butter, the texture of oil cakes is lighter too. Also, given that oil is 100% fat while most American butter is 15% water, it creates a more tender crumb.

This is due to the fact that the extra water strengthens the gluten, resulting in a crumb that’s more dense.

Which Type Of Oil to Use

I use neutral oils like canola oil, safflower oil, and vegetable oil.  However, it’s not unheard of for oils with stronger flavors like olive oil or coconut oil to be used.

If using olive oil, I recommend using pure olive oil for its milder flavor and higher smoking point.

Baking with Oil Conversion Chart

If you want to convert your butter recipes to oil recipes, check out my baking with oil butter to oil conversion chart.

Understanding Sugar

Sugar may seem very basic if you’ve baked before, but I’ve been asked about it before, so I’m explaining.

There are many different types of sugar, including white sugar, brown sugar, vanilla sugar, powdered sugar, turbinado sugar, and demerara sugar.

When a recipe – any recipe, not just mine – says “sugar” without specifying anything else, it is regular white sugar.

White Sugar

White sugar (sometimes called granulated sugar, table sugar, or white granulated sugar) is made of either beet sugar or cane sugar, which has undergone a refining process.

It is the easiest to find and most commonly used.

Brown Sugar

Brown sugar is white sugar with molasses added to it.

It is commonly used in chocolate chip cookie recipes, and it’s rare for a recipe that calls for brown sugar not to also call for white sugar as well.

When a recipe calls for “brown sugar” but doesn’t specify what type (light or dark), it is referring to light brown sugar.

In my recipes, you can use whatever type of brown sugar you have on hand whether it is dark brown sugar, light brown sugar, or demerara sugar – which is very common in Israel.

Just keep in mind that the flavor and color will be slightly different depending on what you choose to use.

Turbinado Sugar

Turbinado sugar is better known as “raw sugar”. But, despite this name, the sugar is not really “raw.”

Instead, it’s partially refined sugar that retains some of the original molasses.

The term “raw sugar” may also give off the impression that it is somehow healthier.

In reality, turbinado sugar is nutritionally similar to white sugar.

Demerara Sugar

Demerara sugar is very popular in Israel and is especially delicious in tea but is also used for baking.

Unlike white sugar, demerara sugar undergoes minimal processing and retains some vitamins and mineral.

However, it is still not much healthier than white sugar.

Vanilla Sugar

Vanilla sugar is not very common in the States. However, it is common in Israel and parts of Europe.

This is sugar that sat for an extended period of time with vanilla beans, giving it a vanilla flavor.

Caster Sugar

This type of sugar is common in the United Kingdom.

It has a finer grain than white (granulated) sugar and larger than powdered sugar.

Caster sugar is often called for in recipes for delicate baked goods like meringues, souffles, and sponge cakes.

You can use a 1:1 conversion rate between caster sugar and white (granulated) sugar.

Powdered sugar

Powdered sugar, sometimes known as confectioners’ sugar, is a sugar with a powdered texture.

This sugar is rarely, if ever, used for baking. Instead, it is used for dusting desserts and making frosting and icings.

In some countries, you can also find powdered vanilla sugar. It is made the exact same way regular vanilla sugar is made. However, the sugar used is powdered instead of granulated.

Vanilla Extract vs Vanilla sugar

In my recipes, I don’t specify what kind of vanilla to use.

The reason for this is that in the States, vanilla extract is exclusively used. Meanwhile in Israel, along with many European countries, vanilla sugar is common.

In most, if not all recipes, both vanilla extract and vanilla sugar can be used.

In recipes where vanilla sugar can be used instead of extract, you can replace them 1:1.

DO EGGS NEED TO BE AT ROOM TEMPERATURE?

The short answer is “no”.  While a side-by-side comparison shows that baking with eggs at room temperature makes a better crumb, it’s not otherwise noticeable.

What are Eggs used for?

Eggs do three things in most recipes: they help bind the ingredients together, act as a mild leavening agent, and they add moisture.

EGG FREE OPTION

Eggs can be substituted with 1/4 cup of unsweetened apple sauce per egg.  This means for recipes calling for 2 eggs, you’d need 1/2 cup of unsweetened apple sauce.

The reason applesauce makes a good binder is that it’s high in pectin. Pectin is a naturally occurring starch in fruits and berries that acts as a thickening agent and stabilizer in food.

This happens when combined with sugar and acid (if the fruit or berry isn’t naturally acidic).

Just keep in mind that it may change the flavor slightly.

ARE EGGS DAIRY?

No, eggs are not dairy.  Dairy is milk and any food products made from milk, including cheese, cream, butter, and yogurt. 

So, while eggs are an animal product, they are not dairy. In fact, eggs fall under the protein food group.

TROUBLESHOOTING

WHY IS IT TAKING LONGER THAN DESCRIBED TO BAKE?

Over time the thermostat on ovens gets a little off causing some ovens to run hot and others to run cool.  This is why recipes tend to say things like “10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.” 

So, if it takes you longer than expected that’s fine, don’t worry about it, just keep baking until ready.

WHY DID MY RECIPE COME OUT TOO DRY?

Just like some ovens run cool, others run hot.  If you’re oven runs hot bake these at a lower temperature.  Ideally, you should get an oven thermometer to know what temperature you’re really baking at.

HOW TO STORE BREAD

Breads, like challah and brioche, take longer to go stale while sourdough bread, is more resilient against mold than other types of bread.  

On the other hand there are breads, like baguettes, which should be eaten same day. Most breads can be stored.

DO NOT REFRIGERATE BREAD

Unlike commercial bread that has preservatives, homemade bread will become stale much faster in the fridge.  Instead you want to leave it out on the counter.

STORING BREAD IN A BAG

Storing bread in a bag may seem like a good idea, and it’s not exactly a bad idea, but it will make the crust softer due to trapped moisture.  If you do this, it is best to use it for toast.

STORING BREAD IN A BREAD BOX

Storing bread in a bread box will create an environment with balanced humidity and the air circulation.  A large box is better because it will allow for maximum air circulation.

Make sure not to crowd your bread because the more bread you put in the bread box, the higher the humidity level.  The downside of a breadbox is that bread is prone to molding, especially in hot weather.

How To Freeze Bread

Let bread completely.

Wrap each loaf tightly in plastic wrap and again in foil or freezer paper. Or, use a zip-top freezer bag with all of the air removed.

Freeze for up to six months. After that, the bread may become freezer burnt.

If You do leave bread in the freezer too long and it becomes a little stale or slightly freezer burnt don’t throw it out. Instead, make use it to make French toast or croutons.

How to Defrost Bread

Defrosted bread in the oven at 325°F or 260°C for 20 to 30 minutes, until soft and fully thawed in the middle.

Yield: 24 servings

No Knead Cloverleaf Rolls

Four cloverleaf rolls on a white plate

No knead cloverleaf rolls are perfect for anyone who doesn't have a mixer and doesn't know how or like to knead.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup white sugar (50 grams)
  • 1 ½ cup warm water (355 milliliters)
  • 4 to 4 ½ cups all-purpose or bread flour (530 to 600 grams)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons oil*
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt

Instructions

  1. Place the yeast, sugar, and water in a large mixing bowl and stir. Let it sit for about 5 to 10 minutes until it foams.
  2. Add flour, eggs, oil and salt.
  3. Using a baking spatula mix to combine until you have a thick, sticky, almost wet, loose dough.
  4. Cover with a damp towel and leave overnight in the fridge. In the morning set the dough on the counter to warm up a little.
  5. Deflate the dough by pushing it down and pulling it away from the sides.
  6. Pinch off dough (see note above) and flatten it to remove air bubbles. Shape into small ball and place in the muffin pan. Place three per muffin cup. 
  7. Repeat with the remaining dough. Use a baking spatula scrape out the remaining dough from the bowl and use that as well.
  8. Cover with a damp towel keep in a warm place. Leave for 30 to 45 min or until the dough has about doubled in size.**
  9. Preheat oven to 390°F or 200°C. Bake for 15 to 18 minute. Switch the oven to broil for the last minute to brown the rolls on top.
  10. Remove and brush the tops with oil or vegan butter. Let sit for 5 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack.

Notes

*Click here to jump to notes on oil
**Click here to jump to notes on how to rise bread faster

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

24

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 114Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 139mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 3g

Did you make this recipe?

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Thursday 4th of April 2019

Do these freeze well?

ElissaBeth

Sunday 7th of April 2019

To be honest, I always eat them fresh or a few days old so I've never had a need to freeze them. However, a good friend of mine has and she said they froze very well. I hope that helps!

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