Light, fluffy buns and rolls are an agreeable accompaniment to almost any meal. Most recipes make a tender, slightly sweet roll, a little denser than standard bread. This is the result of adding milk, sugar and fat to the basic bread recipe. All of these ingredients tend to soften the gluten in the bread dough, enriching the flavour of the rolls but making a finer and denser crumb. To make lighter, fluffier rolls, you must either reduce these ingredients or strengthen the gluten.
Scald the milk in your dough recipe by heating it to 82.2 degrees Celsius, then cooling it until warm. There is a protein in milk that weakens gluten, and it is inactivated by heating. If your recipe calls for milk powder, add it to the water in your recipe and heat it in the same manner.
Reduce the fat in your recipe by one-fourth. The buns will not taste as rich, but they will rise more vigorously, making them lighter and fluffier. In large batches of dough, using a half-cup of fat or more, it may be necessary to reduce the yeast slightly to compensate.
Use bread flour rather than all-purpose flour in your favourite recipe. Bread flour is higher in gluten than all-purpose flour, and will give your buns a better rise and fluffier texture. If you find the buns become chewy when all bread flour is used, try half bread flour and half all-purpose.
Add vital wheat gluten to the dry ingredients in your bun recipe. Gluten is available in many bulk food stores and other locations, and many home bakers find adding gluten as necessary is more convenient that keeping bread flour on hand. Start by adding one teaspoon to your recipe, and increase or decrease the amount until you reach the correct balance of fluffiness and tenderness.
Knead the dough longer. Additional kneading will help develop stronger gluten strands, which will make the buns rise lighter and fluffier. If you use a bread machine, give the finished dough an additional five minutes of kneading in the machine. By hand, an extra five or ten minutes of kneading will also improve the rise of the buns.
Rather than alter an existing recipe, another alternative is to seek out recipes that already make light, fluffy buns.