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Old-fashioned Pull-Apart Buns

By JulieVR |

I am a huge sucker for those buttery, old-fashioned pull-apart buns that grandmas used to make, and I can still find in small-town farmers’ markets in the Canadian prairies. (Since I don’t have a grandma to make them for me anymore, I have to buy them from other peoples’ grandmas.) I’ve hunted around for a recipe – I have a few years to perfect them so that one day I can be that bun-baking grandma. But who needs to wait that long?

Old-fashioned Pull-apart Buns

Adapted from King Arthur Flour

3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp. active dry yeast
3 Tbsp. nonfat dry milk
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup lukewarm milk

melted butter, for brushing on top

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients (except the melted butter) and stir until you have a soft dough. Knead — using your hands, a stand mixer, or a bread machine set on the dough cycle — until you have a soft, smooth dough.

Set the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and let it rise for an hour or so, until it’s doubled in bulk. Gently deflate the dough by knocking it down with your hands, and transfer it to a lightly floured work surface.

Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces, by dividing in half, then in halves again, etc. Round each piece into a smooth ball.

Lightly grease two 8″ or 9″ round cake pans and arrange 8 buns in each pan. Cover the pans and allow the buns to rise another hour, until they’re crowded against one another and quite puffy. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Uncover the buns and bake for 22 to 24 minutes, until golden brown on top and the edges of the center bun spring back lightly when you touch it. Remove the buns from the oven and brush with the melted butter. Serve warm.

Makes about 16 buns.

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About JulieVR



Julie Van Rosendaal is the author of five best-selling cookbooks, food editor of Parents Canada magazine, a CBC Radio columnist and a freelance writer. Her award-winning blog, Dinner with Julie documents life in her home kitchen in Canada with her husband and 7-year-old son. Read bio and latest posts → Read Julie's latest posts →

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34 thoughts on “Old-fashioned Pull-Apart Buns

  1. Robin says:

    Ooh- those look fantastic. Thanks for the recipe!

  2. Erica B. says:

    Oh my word those look fantastic! I’d make them today but I’m already in the middle of cinnamon buns. These are definitely up next. Thanks!

  3. Sharon says:

    Got company coming to stay for a few days and these are definitely on the menu. I have high hopes! Was wondering about freezing; perhaps half the recipe in the pan before second rise? Or.. any other suggestion?

  4. says:

    These buns look gorgeous and I love to bake, I will try them for sure. Thanks for the recipe.

  5. JulieVR says:

    Sharon – another suggestion for making them in advance, you mean? putting the dough in the fridge slows the rise, so you could make and shape them, then refrigerate overnight and bake in the morning, or do as you suggested – leave them at room temp to thaw and then do the second rise! good luck!

  6. Julia says:

    Can I ask what does the dry milk do for the rolls? It seems like such an odd ingredient. Thanks!!!

  7. Hayley says:

    Yes, I have tried making these 3 times and they were chewy and tough each time. I looked onto the King Arthur website and their rec calls for potato flakes??? Did you use those? Thanks for any help.

  8. Rita says:

    Mine turned out chewy too. They were especially tough after they cooled off. They certainly didn’t look tall and fluffy like the ones in the picture. I think I’m giving up on making yeast rolls from scratch. Sister Schubert’s are really good and a lot less hassle than homemade rolls.

  9. Hayley says:

    So true Rita!! I use Sister Schuberts all the time!! My mom just got me a bread machine but I think I may try and different recp since these were chewy each time.

  10. Alyssa says:

    I was super excited by the picture and the easy instructions of these rolls. But I too fear that my rolls are about to come out very chewy. I just got done making the dough for these rolls and it already seems very tough and not as though it will give way to soft, fluffy rolls. What are we doing wrong?

  11. Marnie says:

    Just tried this recipe and it most definitely does not turn out like picture. The dough didn’t rise at all and the buns were dense and small. Not happy! Don’t try it, people!

  12. trisha says:

    100% agree with all the comments of a chewy, dense roll turning out. neither dough rise was successful- i think if they had been the rolls would have been more like the photo. here is some troubleshooting info from king arthur’s site–
    IF i ever get crazy and attempt a yeast dough again.

  13. Melanie says:

    I have mine raising and was worried that they would be tough, so I also started a second batch….. then I get on here again while they are rising and start reading the posts AFTER I made them (just going off the photos) and I think I am in for some tough rolls. :( I will let you know.

  14. Chrystal says:

    Original recipe calls for INSTANT yeast not active as this page suggests… that is why the recipe doesn’t turn out. I mixed it while sick and after I put it in the bowl thought “Why on earth wasn’t the yeast proofed?” This method of bread making will only work if you are using instant/rapid rise yeast.

  15. Bonny says:

    Just made this and YES you need instant yeast. For first time rolls, they came out pretty good. Not chewy but pretty thick, hearty, and buttery.

  16. Jennifer says:

    Chewy, heavy rolls are probably due to too much flour. Flour compresses in the bag and in the container, so scooping a cup of flour out of your container is probably more than a recipe cup of flour. Weigh the flour – 4 oz to every cup.

    Potato flour holds moisture and using dry milk rather than wet milk will add height and lightness.

  17. Polyvorina says:

    These were great! Even for a first-time bread maker like me. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  18. Venieca says:

    ohhh those look like the same buns that the Golden Coral makes. Gotta make them.

  19. Belinda ferrell says:

    you need to make sure you are using unbleached all purpose flour. not self rising and don’t over mix

  20. Cameron says:

    I followed the recipe exactly and the bread will not rise. I have been waiting for it to rise for 3 hours. What could I have done wrong?

    1. JulieVR says:

      Your yeast may be outdated – if it has expired and lost its leavening power your bread won’t rise.. could that be it?

  21. debbie says:

    For those who felt the dough too stiff and made tough rolls…next time watch your dough as you mix it and add more water or milk. Depending on how old your flour is (or was at the store when you bought it) it’s going to suck up all the water and make an over stiff dough if it’s older. I used my kitchen aid to mix it and when the initial mix looked a bit stiff I stopped the mixer, changed to the dough hook and broke up the dough into lumps and added about 1/3 cup more water. This made for a sticky, tacky dough that looked slightly too moist and soft. I let it knead for a couple of minutes to let the gluten develop and it tightened up into a soft, supple dough…. and then I put it into the oiled bowl to rise. If you’ve ever poked the ready made pizza dough you can buy at the grocer’s bakery , this is what it should feel like.

  22. joanne says:

    I made these and they didnt rise either so the yeast that you use in this receipe you dont have to mix with a warm liquid…?

  23. christi3296 says:

    I made these tonight and they definitely did not look like the picture. They did not rise very well even though I used all new ingredients and followed the intructions to a tee. They were a little dense but my family still loved them, especially because they were drenched in butter. The tops were quite hard but actually tasted okay. I know what to do different next time. For one, I know I need to knead the dough longer and try dissolving the yeast first as the back of the package reads. Maybe I will try instant yeast next time…
    overall I thought they turned out only okay for my first bread making attempt.

  24. Leahbeth says:

    I was fully prepared to leave a comment of pure frustration and illness. These did not rise either of the two times I attempted. I lost hope that they’d be fit to eat and was all but ready to give up on bread/roll making. Low and behold! I put these in the oven and they rose right up! They DO NOT look like the picture, but they are lovely and would make sister Schubert proud!

  25. Reba says:

    Just now punched down the dough it doubled up beautifly and now waiting for it to double up again. Will post results later.

  26. KR says:

    When making yeast breads DO NOT USE TAP WATER. Your local water company adds chemicals such as chloride that kill yeast. Use bottled spring water instead. You’ll be amazed at the difference!!

  27. Kelly says:

    I’ve made the King Arthur Flour version a few times and they were great. I haven’t compared that veraion with this version but King Aethur Flour has a 1-800 number to call to troubleshoot. It’s a great service.

  28. snowlyjam says:


  29. Birgit says:

    I only have regular flour in hand. Will that work?

  30. Rahidah says:

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe. Made them, filled with mozzarella cheese & used the same dough to roll with hotdogs..they’re amazing , soft & yummy !

  31. Edna Coaker says:

    I don’t have bottle water,or potatoe flour. Will the rolls still turn out ok?

  32. Edna Coaker says:

    No, I have not make any comments, it was someone else not me. I wanted to know because I don’t have bottle water will the rolls still rise & turn out like they suspose to?

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