My goal with this recipe was to make a hoagie with a light, crispy exterior and a very soft, fluffy and flavorful interior. You may have different goals, and that’s OK, I’m sure you’ll find happiness somewhere else.
I suggest pairing this with pork butt confit, broccoli rabe, and sharp provolone. Salt the meat, and cook it in some lard alongside garlic, at around 22 hours at 165°F in a water bath or on your stove-top (induction cook tops can be useful for something like this). If you can’t get the exact right cook temperature, the key is for the collagen in the meat to break down into gelatin. The meat should be extremely soft and tender, and it ought to jiggle, like jello (again, it’s the magic of gelatin).
Wait for it to cool, pull it, and fry hard with some oil to serve for an extremely tender pork with a crispy crust (salt it to taste at the fry stage—it needs a lot of salt). The result is essentially carnitas meets a roast pork sandwich. And truth be told, I use the same pork precursor for these sandwiches and carnitas both, but if you know you only want the pork for sandwiches, feel free to add the likes of oregano, fennel, and rosemary to the pork during the initial cook. And note that the pork freezes well after the initial cook, so you can freeze any extras. I usually freeze it in chunks, and I don’t do an aggressive pulling before freezing.
For the broccoli rabe, chop it up a bit (those big pieces of broccoli rabe are no fun) and sauté in olive oil with some salt, minced garlic, and red pepper.
If you hate sandwiches, I suggest making this recipe, cutting through the resulting rolls lengthwise, and eat it as bread. It pairs especially well with the butter in my gift guide. You can also turn the rolls into toasts—fresh avacado, sea salt, and Calabrian chili oil make an excellent toast topping.
A scientist and bread baker friend, Sarah, thoroughly documented her process of making this hoagie roll recipe in her Instagram Story, and I recommend checking it out. Please ignore everything that contradicts the exact wording of this recipe.
Everything but the semolina, rice flour, spray bottle, and lame are in the gift guide. You don’t need to buy the exact items from the gift guide to make this recipe, but it’s a good starting point for what you need.
A steel will more effectively conduct energy into dough than stone, so you’ll see a better rise with steel versus stone, but it’ll be a subtle difference. Use a baking stone if you’ve already got one. If not, Dough Joe sells a reasonably priced steel, which also works well for pizzas. A 1/4-inch or 3/8-inch steel would both work well, and the latter would require a bit less time to recover its heat after baking, which is more useful if you’re planning to bake pizzas, too.
You can bake this hoagie roll on a baking sheet in the oven and skip a baking stone or steel, but the bake time for the roll will be longer, and the resulting roll will have a less aggressive rise due to the lack of energy being dumped into the bottom of the dough while baking.
A Jeweler’s scale isn’t strictly necessary, but it’s useful for measuring smaller quantities of ingredients (if you do purchase one, be sure to grab a calibration mass). I’ve never trusted the accuracy of measuring small quantities (less than 10g) with my larger OXO scale, so I use a Jeweler’s scale for that. Do what you will.
If you're baking on a stone or steel, you’ll want a peel to launch your hoagie dough into the oven (and also to retrieve it). You can use a cheap metal one for both launching and retrieving. In a pinch, you may be able to use an upside down baking sheet or a cookie sheet in lieu of a peel.
I like rice flour for dusting a flour sack towel that covers the shaped rolls as they rise. If you can’t buy rice flour, you can use a light dusting of regular flour instead. You can use a baker’s couche instead of a towel, but it’s not necessary. I like to use semolina flour for dusting your peel before launching, but you can substitute with regular flour.
My lame is fine, and you can buy that. I have not tested a bunch of lames. I don’t know that it really matters. If you don’t have a lame, you probably will want to get one, but a sharp knife will do in a pinch. Regardless, slashing is critical for letting the dough expand in a controlled manner.
The spray bottle is my favorite way of keeping the oven (and dough) moist, which gets you the best rise and crust quality. You can try other methods, but they are not supported. Follow the spray regimen outlined in the end of this recipe. If you have no spray bottle, you may be able to use a squirt gun filled with water (do not fill with other liquids). A particularly powerful squirt gun may relocate the dough while it cooks, which is unideal. Good luck.
King Arthur bread flour will get you a roll that has a tough, chewy exterior, the antithesis of what I wanted out of this recipe. I use King Arthur All-Purpose flour, which forms much more gluten than a typical grocery store all-purpose flour. Central Milling Artisan Bakers Craft, a basic supermarket bleached bread flour, or something with a similar amount of gluten-forming protein will also work well, if you have a choice. Do not use standard supermarket all-purpose flour: it lacks the gluten-forming protein necessary for this recipe.
As far as the yeast goes, this recipe was developed with SAF Instant Yeast. You can buy it at Sur La Table, some Restaurant Depot locations, and it’s on Amazon. Once the package is open, I throw it into a freezer bag and store it in the freezer. You can use it straight from frozen without issue—it’ll warm up quickly enough. If you can’t get SAF Instant Yeast, buy some other “instant yeast” in the store. Instant yeast is not the same as active dry yeast, and I am not recommending the latter.
Originally this recipe was released with a bit more yeast, but I’ve since halved the yeast to 0.25% to make the dough more robust against weaker flours (flours that have less gluten-forming protein) and warmer or more humid kitchens. I think this new lower concentration of yeast serves as a better default. If you were happy before, no need to change what you were doing, and if you’re in a particularly cool environment, you may want to go ahead and try 0.50% (4.54g), or you can just let the dough sit out at room temperature longer with 0.25%. There’s a lot of flexibility here.
Since it’s customary to present a dough recipe in large quantities, this recipe is four dough balls for 12-inch hoagies, at 400g of dough per hoagie. You can leverage the powers of mathematics to bring this down to fewer hoagies per batch, or make all four, bake them throughout the week, or bake them all, and freeze the ones you don’t eat—do not store breads or pizza in the fridge, lest you form disgusting retrograde starches that make the bread stale.
For kneading and shaping this dough, my preferred work surface is a freshly oiled and wiped (with food-safe mineral oil, which won’t go rancid) wood cutting board. If you follow the instructions of this recipe, the wood board should be very easy on which to work.
Mix the dry ingredients, stir, add the oil, and add the water. Mix until vaguely together. Knead by hand until almost smooth or throw into a stand mixer on “stir” for 10 minutes or so until nearly smooth. Do not use bench flour. Bench flour perturbs the recipe—power through it. Use your bench scraper to move the dough if it’s sticky.
If you’re kneading by hand, and the dough is too sticky, if the dough is more or less homogeneous, that is, all of the flour is incorporated, you can just invert a bowl over the dough and walk away for fifteen minutes or so. Do not cover the dough with a towel—it’ll stick, and you don’t want moisture to escape at this point. I’ve had very good luck with just walking away from stubborn doughs. If necessary, you can give the dough a quick fold and let it sit for another 15 minutes. Again, do not use bench flour. Do not use bench flour. Power through it.
Remove the dough from your bowl using a bowl scraper, and be sure to remove all of the dough. Place the dough on your working surface. Knead the dough a few times, and then cover the dough with your mixing bowl inverted over the work surface (let’s not needlessly dirty new containers). Wait 30 minutes to an hour (stick closer to latter if your house is cold), and then split into each hoagie-sized portions. Use your bowl or bench scraper to remove the dough from the work surface if it’s a little sticky. Do not use bench flour. Knead each portion briefly, and form a ball.
Place each ball into a lightly oiled container. Size the container so that the dough has some room to grow. You don’t want to use a completely airtight container, but a basic seal is fine. Place the dough in the fridge for one-to-three days. I’ve had it in the fridge for up to six days, and it was still fine.
I typically remove the doughs from the fridge before I go to bed, and then first thing in the morning, I shape the dough. I’ve found that in my approximately 67°F kitchen, it’s fine. If your kitchen is much warmer than that or particularly humid, you can take the dough out sooner relative to when you shape it. The key is for the dough to have warmed up fully by the time you shape it. If you’re pressed for time, three-to-five hours at room temp should be enough time for the dough to warm up fully from the fridge (you may be able to get away with just two hours in a warm kitchen or if the dough has been in the fridge for a couple of days already).
When the dough is ready for shaping, get a tea towel, and cover it lightly with rice flour, and put the towel aside for now. Place the dough on your bare work surface, flatten it, and then fold it in half and flatten it again. Pinch the seam closed, and roll the dough on your work surface until it reaches 12 inches in length. If you do a poor job of shaping it, don’t worry, you can re-ball, wait 15 minutes or so for the gluten to relax somewhat, and start over shaping without much worry, because, you didn’t use bench flour.-->
Proceed to roll the shaped dough in a small baking sheet full of sesame seeds, if you’d like to use sesame seeds (optional), and then place the shaped dough on a flour sack towel, and fold over the towel to cover the dough. The hoagie dough will need to rise after it’s shaped for two-to-three hours.
At this point, I preheat my oven to 500°F on convection bake, but if you don’t have a convection oven, bake at 525°F. I put a stone or steel on the middle rack of the oven, but again, you scan skip the stone at the cost of some volume with your bread. With a stone or steel, you’ll want to preheat an hour to an hour and a half prior to baking. I preheat after I’ve shaped the dough, so I don’t have to worry about hoagies again until l bake.
I prefer to bake one hoagie at a time in a home oven. You can do more than that, but do no more than two at a time. Lightly cover your peel with a light uniform dusting of semolina flour (or regular flour if that’s all you have). Roll the dough onto your peel (carefully so it doesn’t fall on the floor), and shake it a few times to make sure it moves freely.
Get a lame ready and dip the blade in water.
With the lame (or you can use a knife if you don’t have one), slash the dough length-wise using the corner of the blade. Cut deep across the entire length of the dough. If necessary, you can redo your cut going from the opposite side.
Launch the dough into the oven, and immediately lightly and uniformly spray the surface with water. Set timers for 2.5 minutes and 5 minutes. After each timer, open the oven and spray the roll with water.
Bake until golden brown—around 10–12 minutes. The bake time depends on your oven and your baking surface. In general, if you’re nervous about doneness for a bread, you can test the interior temperature with an instant-read thermometer, and approximately 200F is a good goal for bread. For this hoagie recipe, once it’s golden brown, it’s very likely to be done.
When done, remove the roll from the oven and place it on a cooling rack to cool, if you have one. Otherwise, place it on an inverted small plate, or find some other accommodation for the finished roll that facilitates airflow. Spray the roll lightly with water, and wait at least a half hour before cutting into it.
Keep the roll uncut until you’re ready to use it. When ready to serve, cut the roll lengthwise with a good bread knife. I prefer to cut almost all the way through, almost like a hot dog bun, rather than cutting the roll into two separate halves, so there’s a sort of hinge on the side of the cut roll. The roll can then be opened, scooped (if you so desire) and stuffed.