Bacon & Caramelized Onion Rolls

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Founded in 1868 in Cincinnati, Ohio by Austro-Hungarian brothers Charles and Maximillian Fleischmann, Fleischmann’s Yeast has a long history of recipe outreach to home cooks. In 1877, it was one of the first companies to put out a free recipe book, followed by the many more you can still find in antiquarian book-nooks and crannies. In the ‘90s, aware that local fairs were among the richest mines to plumb for American regional recipes coming out of home kitchens, Fleischmann’s started sponsoring recipe contests at State and County fairs. The tradition stuck and Fleischmann fair contests now attract tens of thousands of contestants annually. Categories switch out from year to year, ranging from “best special occasion breads” to “mother-daughter themes,” to “sensational sandwich breads” all celebrating home baking.

Among those rising to the top in recent years? This Cuyahoga County Fair Fleischmann’s grand-prize-winning recipe from Bryan Welch of Parma, Ohio, tucks caramelized onion, port wine, bacon and smoked cheddar cheese into pinwheel rolls easy-baked in a muffin tin. Brushed with butter, the rolls have a crisp crunchy exterior, staying tender & moist on the inside, where you find the sweet onions, bacon and cheese.

Welch says he learned baking from his wife who is also a county fair winning cook. The idea for stuffing the rolls with this ingredient combo came from Welch’s love for caramelized onion and bacon on pizzas—the smoked cheddar adds extra depth. For best success with this recipe? Welch suggests “a very fine dice for the onion, stir often, use fresh-as-possible yeast for the dough. And be sure to grease the tins,” for easy release.

Makes 12 rolls

Dough Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
  • 1 envelope (2 1/2 tsp) Fleischmann’s Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/4 to 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

Filling Ingredients

  • 12 oz. bacon (10 to 11 slices–one cookie sheet full)
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup Port wine
  • 1 cup grated smoked cheddar cheese (about 1/2 an 8-ounce chunk of cheese)



  1. Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, sprinkle yeast and sugar over warm water. Let yeast bloom for five to 10 minutes, until foamy. Stir in salt, oil and 1 cup of flour at medium speed on mixer for two minutes. Add another cup of flour to make a soft dough. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of flour onto work surface and turn soft dough on to this, kneading repeatedly to incorporate the flour. Continue sprinkling surface with a few more Tbsp of flour and kneading to take the flour up, until the dough is smooth and elastic–about 8 minutes worth of kneading.
  2. Pour 1 Tbsp canola oil in a large bowl and place dough ball in bowl, turning once to coat ball in oil. Cover with kitchen towel and place in warm, draft-free place for 1 hour.
  3. While dough is rising, prepare filling. Preheat oven to 350. Spread cookie sheet with bacon slices and bake for 20 minutes. Drain oil into melt-proof cup and reserve. Bake bacon an addition 3 minutes until bacon is beginning to crisp, but still pliable. Remove bacon from oven, drain fat a second time and blot bacon on paper towel-lined plate. Cool. Chop fine.
  4. In heavy skillet over medium heat, saute onion in 2 Tbsp of the reserved bacon fat. Stir onion well to incorporate the fat; cover pan and cook for five to 10 minutes, removing cover to stir several times. As onion becomes translucent and takes on a golden color, stir frequently and watch carefully. Once onion is golden, but not crisp or brown, stir in 1/4 cup Port wine. Continue stirring until the wine evaporates and thickens with the onion into a glaze. Remove from heat.
  5. Punch down dough. On lightly floured work surface stretch and flatten dough into a 15 x 10 inch rectangle. Spread caramelized onions over the dough. Sprinkle bacon over. Sprinkle cheese over. Starting at the long side of the rectangle, tuck and roll the filled dough into a log. Pinch seams to seal filling in. Cut into 12 equal slices. Place each slice in a greased cup of a muffin tin, cut side up. Brush with melted butter. Cover with kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes until golden. Remove to wire rack to cool.

4 thoughts on “Bacon & Caramelized Onion Rolls

  1. Saw you on WGNTV Chicago, IL today. Never knew that your website existed. Fantastic! Will make good use of it in the future. Thanks!

  2. I didn’t see you on T.V. wish I had though. As a collector of cookbooks for many years, I must say, you have a terrific collection of vintage recipes! Are you on Pinterest by any chance. I’m pinning this as we speak and I will be back!

    Thank you so much for sharing…

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