Oh how I loved spending my childhood summer breaks at my grandpa’s home in Guyana. Besides loving to help out in his convenience shop, I loved eating tennis rolls. The hot rolls were delivered to his shop very early every morning. The beautiful smell of the rolls woke me from my sleep; and of course I got out of bed to eat one while the rolls were still usually warm. Smeared a little butter and add cheese were a marvelous combination.
The recipe for the rolls were always a big secret – well guarded like the KFC’s chicken recipe. Over the years, I came across a variation of the recipes on the web – some were close but others weren’t. Since graduating from Culinary Arts, Art of International Bread Baking, I set out to work on developing a Tennis Roll recipe that mirrors the traditional Guyanese roll. This version is super close, if not better; the perfect flavors of vanilla extract and fresh orange zest collaborate beautifully with the sweetness making this roll perfect! Tennis roll is a very dense bread, and my version is no exception.
I hope you with try this recipe and enjoy it as much as we do. Happy Cooking!
Tennis Rolls | Guyanese Sweet Rolls
A super delicious sweet roll recipe. Great for breakfast or brunch – just add butter and cheese.
- 5 cups all purpose flour plus more for kneading
- 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs (plus 1 extra egg to use as egg wash)
- 1 cup milk Carnation or whole milk
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted and cooled to 100F degrees
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons orange zest (fresh zest from about 2 large oranges)
- 2 teaspoons salt I use sea salt
- 2 packages plus 1 teaspoon instant yeast
Combine the melted butter, water and milk. Warm to 95 to 100 degrees.
In an electric mixer equipped with a dough hook, add all of the ingredients, including the warm liquid.
Note: The order of adding the ingredients does not matter.
If using ACTIVE yeast instead of INSTANT you will need to ferment it first. To do this, use the recipe's recommended water and warm the water to 105 – 110 degrees. Add the yeast to the warm water and add a teaspoon granulated sugar. Stir to desolve the yeast and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes until it starts to look bubbly/foamy. You can now add this to the other ingredients.
Turn the mixer on low speed and mix until a dough starts to form. This generally takes about 3 to 4 minutes.
Note: I use a kitchen aid mixer that has 8 speeds. I put it on speed 2.
Once the dough starts to come together, turn the speed up to 4 (or medium).
Continue mixing for 5 to 6 minutes. The dough will still be soft and sticky.
Tranfer the sticky dough onto a generously floured clean work surface.
Note: I use a silicone mat and a scarper tool. You can use a rubber spatula or your fingers/hands.
Knead the dough for 4 to 5 minutes until it is smooth. Shape the dough into a round.
Note: To knead the dough, use fingers to pull a corner of the dough into the center and use palm to gently press in. Rotate the the dough quarter turns continuing this process until the dough is smooth. As you knead, the dough will pull away from the work surface easily, without sticking.
Do not over add flour when kneading – you do NOT want to end up with too firm of a dough. The dough should be soft without sticking to the work surface (see tutorial video in summary)
Lightly grease an extra large mixing bowl with vegetable or olive oil. Transfer the dough into the bowl, coating it with some of the oil in the bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and then drape a clean kitchen towel over the bowl. Place the bowl in a warm spot, away from heat sources. Let the dough rise/proof/fermentation for 2 hours until doubled.
2 hours later, transfer the dough to a clean work surface.
Note: You will not need additional flour for dusting. The dough will be easy to handle and not sticky.
Form a log about 16 inches long. Cut in half. Then cut each half into 8 pieces each. You should not have 16 pieces of dough.
Line a half sheetpan with parchment paper.
Shape each piece of dough into a smooth roll. Place the rolls on the lined sheetpan about 1 inches apart.
Note: You can use one of two methods to shape:
1) place a piece of dough in your palm. Pull the cut edges into the center and use your fingers to seal leaving the dough in a roll shape. You can further seal the dough by placing it on the work surface, seam side down. Use your palm to cuff the roll and roll the dough in a circular motion to seal completely – be sure to keep the dough seam side down and place on the lined sheetpan.
2) Alternatively, hold a piece of dough and gently stretch. Place it on the work surface and fold a corner into the center. Fold the opposite corner into the center. Rotate the dough to fold the other sides. Place the folded seam on the work surface. Tuck in the edges to form a smooth round top. Use your palm to cuff the roll and roll to seal completely.
Once all the rolls are formed, cover them loosely with a kitchen towel. Place the pan in a warm location, away from heat source. Let the dough rise/proof for 45 minutes to 1 hour until doubled.
While the dough is in this final proof, preheat the oven 350F degrees. And prepare one egg for egg washing the dough.
Note: I use the convection setting on my oven.
I place 1 egg in a small bowl with a tight cover and then I shake it rigorously. You can also use a fork if you prefer.
One hour later, the rolls will be doubled in size. Use a pastry brush to brush each roll all over the top with the egg wash. Be generous without flooding the rolls with the wash.
Bake the rolls for 25 minutes. They will be a nice golden brown. Remove the rolls from the oven and place the pan on a cooling rack.
Note: You can check the rolls for doneness by carefully flipping one over and tapping the bottom. It will sound hollow. Or test internal temperature with a kitchen thermometer – need to be at least 170F degrees.
Cool completely. Serve with a smear of butter and cheese, if desired. Enjoy.
Step by step tutorial video available. Tennis Rolls | Guyanese Style Sweet Bread
Nutrition facts are based on a serving of 1 roll.