Hawaiian Rolls

So, funny story.  I was totally on the ball with this months Cook the Books Club.  I finished the book over Christmas vacation and made my recipe right away.

Then I got sick (just a sinus infection, but I was completely wiped out) plus I was getting my family all packed and ready for Disney so the recipe just sat there!

Now I’m back from that amazing trip, it’s the end of the month, and here I am!

This month book was hosted by Deb at Kahakai Kitchen.  She chose Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers – a historical fiction book that takes place in Hawaii during World War II.  Though my typical genre is high fantasy, I do love a great historical fiction – especially if it deals with WWII!

I could not put this book down!  I was enthralled the whole time (even if I did guess the ending before the “big reveal”)

The book follows Violet & Ella (Mother and Daughter) as they navigate WWII plus the mysterious loss for Violet’s husband (Ella’s Dad).

There is a ton of WWII recipe inspiration in this book – coconut pie, chocolate honeycomb pie, sweet potato pie, spam…

I wanted to make pie, but wasn’t planning to make any of the pies from the book.  I was just going to share this fun pie I made for Spud!  He saw this on Pinterest and desperately wanted one this past Thanksgiving (so we made it using my recipe for Brown Sugar Pumpkin Pie).

But using the same pumpkin pie recipe with just a car on top seemed like cheating, so I went back to the drawing board.  But seriously, how cute is this pie (if you’re in a houseful of little boys, that is!)

I started looking more closely at Hawaiian food and I was having trouble finding something authentic that I wanted to make (I really didn’t want to use spam!)  Finally, I decided to make copycat Hawaiian Rolls. 

Fun fact – on our Disney vacation, we had a dinner at the Polynesian Resort and the bread on the table was remarkably similar to this recipe!

These rolls are super soft, quite sweet, and include pineapple juice for that Hawaiian flare!

Please note the long rise times in this recipe.  They are definitely needed – the high sugar content (even slightly cut down from the original as I have here) slows the rise!  The rolls are delicious but so take patience!

Hawaiian Rolls
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

¼ cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon instant yeast
¼ cup very warm water (about 115 degrees F)

½ cup canned pineapple juice
¼ butter, softened
¼ cup brown sugar
2 whole eggs + 1 yolk (white reserved)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ¾ cups all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoon salt

Mix together the ¼ cup flour, yeast, and water in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Allow the mixture to rest for 10-15 minutes.

Add the pineapple juice, butter, brown sugar, eggs, egg, yolk, and vanilla.  Mix until smooth.

Add the flour and salt.  Switch to the dough hook and knead for 5 minutes.  Dough should form a sticky ball.  It will stick to the bottom but hold together on the sides.

Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl.  Cover loosely with a lint free kitchen towel and set aside in a warm, draft-free area to rise for 2 hours.

Spray a 9x13 inch pan with nonstick spray.  Divide the dough into 15 equal sized pieces.  Form into smooth balls and evenly space in the prepared pan.  Cover with the kitchen towel and allow to rise for 1-1 ½ hours or until the buns are light and fluffy.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Whisk the remaining egg white with 1 tablespoon of water.  Brush the tops of the buns with the egg white mixture.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until browned and measuring at an internal temperature of 190 degrees F.

Cool in the pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool.   These are best served the day they’re made.


  1. Sounds wonderful Amy and I'm glad you joined us. Better late than never. I loved this book too. PS: I went with Spam.

  2. Yum! Your Hawaiian rolls look so perfectly soft and delicious. (The pumpkin pie is adorable too);-) Glad you enjoyed the book.

  3. The pie is too cute. I would have so used it. Thanks for the roll recipe. I have always wanted to try to make these.

  4. I struggled too with what to cook from the book, but in the end went more Hawaiian fusion. Those Hawaiian rolls look too good. I'm a secret fan of King's Hawaiian and will bet yours are even better than theirs. If I could ask a favor... I'm reaching out for followers on IG and would be so grateful if you would follow me there @brancica. This pics are worth it (if I do say so myself). TIA - cathy

  5. Lovely rolls! I didn't know they had pineapple juice as an ingredient. Thank you for choosing such an interesting recipe.


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