Q: How can I make my own sub rolls using my existing pizza dough?
A: Most pizza dough formulations are well suited for also making your own sub rolls. It is not terribly difficult, but it will take a little practice to make them right.
Begin by using your regular pizza dough formula, but mix the dough about five minutes longer at either low or medium speed. This will result in better gluten development, which is necessary in allowing the rolls to achieve their height and shape without collapse.
After mixing, the dough temperature should be in the 80-85° F range, about the same as for pizza dough. Take the dough directly to the bench after mixing and scale into 4.5-ounce pieces for 8″ rolls or 10.5-ounce pieces for 11″ rolls. Form each dough piece into a ball shape. Give the dough pieces a light dusting of flour and cover with a sheet of plastic to rest for 15 to 20 minutes, then begin forming each ball of dough into a hot dog shaped roll. Do this by rolling the dough under your hands on the bench top.
Roll the dough piece out to the appropriate length and place onto lightly oiled or parchment paper-lined sheet pans with about a three-inch spacing between dough pieces. Slip each pan of dough into a plastic bag and secure the end. Allow the dough pieces to proof for 45 to 60 minutes, remove the bag and give each dough piece three or four diagonal French cuts about 1/4-inch deep across the top. Spray the dough pieces with water and bake in a deck oven at 400° F or an air impingement oven at 375° F. Adjust the baking time to give a lightly browned finished roll.
After baking, transfer the rolls to a wire screen for cooling. When cooled, the rolls may be stored in plastic bags for use over the next three days. As mold may become a problem, it is not recommended that the rolls be kept for more than three days.
The late Tom Lehmann was a longtime columnist for PMQ and served as director of bakery assistance for the American Institute of Baking (AIB).