We're not even a week into school and my kids are already bored with ham sandwiches and apples! I know this lunch boredom occurs in many Irish households and parents can get frustrated trying to pack a school lunch that both fits within their school's healthy eating guidelines and is tasty/fresh enough for your kids to enjoy.

I love making these savoury rolls as a sandwich alternative. You can make a double or triple batch on a Sunday and keep them in the freezer for up to two months. If you store them in a container with a tight-fitting lid or freezer-safe ziplock bag, you can simply take one or two out at a time and they should be defrosted by lunch time.

They're also great for a work-at-home lunch for the many folk still working remotely. Just add some fresh salad greens with a drizzle of vinegar and you've got a great-tasting lunch in minutes.

I filled these rolls with ham, cheese and caramelised onion chutney, which is a fantastic flavour combination, but for my kids I omit the chutney and add a bit of pizza sauce or just keep things simple with the ham and cheese. Sliced chorizo, turkey, chicken or roast beef also work really well here. For a vegetarian alternative, I like to use roasted peppers, kalamata olives, feta and cream cheese. The sky's the limit when it comes to flavour combinations.

You can use plain flour to make the bread dough, but using strong flour will really take the bread up a notch. You can also replace the yeast for sourdough starter, but take note: it will take much longer for the dough to rise if you're using sourdough.

Baked ham and cheese rolls with caramelised onion chutney

Serves eight


For the dough:

1 1/2 tsp dry active yeast

1 tbsp sugar or honey

250ml warm water

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil

400g strong flour (plus more, for dusting)

For the rolls:

200g caramelised onion chutney

200g grated cheddar cheese (or a cheddar/mozzarella mix)

100g sliced ham

1 egg, lightly beaten


1. Make the dough: in a mixing bowl, add the yeast and sugar (or honey). Pour the warm water over the mixture and let sit 5-10 minutes, until the yeast has activated (is bubbly and frothy).

2. Add the salt, oil and flour to the yeast mixture. Bring the mixture together with a fork and then use your hands to bring the dough together. You can knead the dough until light and elastic, or simply ensure it's well-mixed (I don't bother kneading this type of dough; it's not necessary) before covering with a clean dish cloth and leaving to rise for 2 hours (at room temperature).

3. When the dough has risen, place it on a well-floured surface (it will be on the sticky side) and roll out to a rough rectangular shape 2-3cm thick. Spread the dough with the caramelised onion chutney, then layer the ham and cheese over top. Roll the dough up as you would for cinnamon rolls, starting on the long side of the rectangle.

4. When the dough is rolled up, use a sharp, serrated knife to cut the log so you have eight evenly sized pieces. Place each piece on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Let rest for 30 minutes.

5. While the rolls are resting, preheat the oven to 200°C. Brush each roll with the lightly beaten egg and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the rolls are baked through and dark brown on top (the chutney will look very dark, but that's ok).

6 Let cool, then freeze or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. Serve as part of a lunch box or with a side salad.

Read more

The ins and outs of sourdough bread