Wednesday, April 02, 2014
I'm serving fresh mozzarella, basil and tomato sandwiches tonight, so I needed rolls that would stand up to it. Sure, I could have made ciabatta, or a baguette-but these are quick, relatively simple, and don't turn an "easy" evening meal into an exercise in authenticity.
The recipe comes from Williams and Sonoma Kitchen Library-Breads, 1996. The previous owner left all sorts of notes on the breads, and reports about it snowing in April for two days straight. We have a couple inches forecast for tomorrow evening, so I guess that's a pattern in Nebraska. Might as well bake some rolls. I made a few changes which I will note in the recipe.
You Will Need:
4-5 cups strong flour(I used 2 cups strong flour and made up the rest with plain)
2 teaspoons salt
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups warm water
Cornmeal for the pan
Wash of egg white and water to glaze
Poppy seeds (I used sesame)
In a large bowl combine 1 cup of the flour with the yeast and salt. Add the butter, and water. Mix well (I did this by hand, but you could obviously use a mixer with a dough hook if you like). Slowly add enough flour to make a dough that you can knead without it sticking. Knead really well, until quite elastic.
Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with cling film, and let rise about an hour until doubled. Punch dough down, and let rest 5 minutes.
The recipe calls for you to make 9 rolls. I made 8 because fiddling about dividing dough into uneven numbers is twenty seconds of mental energy I can't get back. I also wanted them a bit larger as I'm using them for sandwiches. I'll let you be the judge of your ability with maths, and what you'll do with the rolls. Anyway, divide them into balls, and shape them stretching towards the bottom as you go. Place the rolls on a cornmeal dusted baking sheet. Cover lightly with a towel, and let rise another 35 minutes, while the oven preheats to 425 degrees F. You'll need to create steam in the oven. The book suggested spraying the oven sides with a misting bottle, but I don't advise that if you have an uncovered bulb in the oven. What I do is use an old pan that I place on the lowest rack. Heat it along with your oven. When it is time to bake, toss in a handful of ice cubes. Immediately set the baking sheet in the oven, and let it bake for 10 minutes. At this point, you'll want to rotate the pan, but BE CAREFUL when you open the oven as that steam needs to go somewhere. Open it SLOWLY, and for the love of god, stand back, or top the side. You should under no circumstances peer directly into the oven as you do this.
Bake another 10-12 minutes, or until the tops of the rolls are golden. Cool on a wire rack.