Sunday, September 30, 2012

Knotted Dinner Rolls

Once in a while I enjoy a kitchen challenge. For me, bread is always one of those challenges, since it's a hit-or-miss baking situation. Homemade bread is either great or horrible, but never somewhere in between (if someone says my bread is OK, I can be certain they're being polite and in reality it's pretty bad). I wanted to try something new, so I found this recipe, and gave it a shot. The reviews of the original recipe made me think I'd be able to make these rolls since many non-bakers said they had success with them. Turns out that aside form all the time spent waiting for dough to rise, they're really easy to make. It's also really simple to make them into the knots, even though it looks like you spent hours doing it.

When I was kneading the dough, I ended up adding quite a bit more flour since I found my dough to be really sticky, but I think everyone will have a different experience with this recipe. From what I've learned, this dough is hard to mess up. I'm pretty sure that in  the end I added about an extra 1/3 cup of flour to the dough and it still turned out great. I also got impatient towards the end and didn't give the dough as much time to rise as I should have, but this didn't seem to affect the dough. These are best eaten the day you make them. I froze half of the rolls and they re-warm nicely in your oven. But again, once de-frosted, eat them warm. The dough is much fluffier when these are warm.

Recipe from Fine Cooking
Makes 18 rolls

1 1/2 cups whole milk, plus more as needed
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons or 7 grams) instant or active dry yeast
1/4 cup canola oil, plus more as needed
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 pound and 7 ounces (5 1/4 cups) unbleached bread flour, plus more as needed'
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water

In a small saucepan, heat the milk until it is warm (95F). Remove from heat and whisk in the yeast until it dissolves. Add the butter and oil and stir (not all the butter will melt). Whisk in the sugar and allow the mixture to sit for about 5 minutes, just until the yeast begins to float to the surface.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and egg. Pour the yeast mixture into the bowl and mix on low until a coarse ball forms, about 1 minute. If using a regular bowl, mix with a large spoon. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.

If using a stand mixer, swap out the paddle attachment for the dough hook. Mix on medium-low speed until the dough is soft and and pliable, about 3 minutes. If making dough by hand, knead on a lightly oiled surface until this same texture is achieved. The dough should be tacky, but not sticky. If you poke the dough, there should not be any dough stuck to your finger. If the dough is too sticky, add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time, incorporating it into the dough. If you dough is too stiff, add 1 tablespoon of milk to the dough at a time.

Smear some canola or vegetable oil on your work surface to create an 8 inch circle. Place the dough in the circle and stretch it out and fold it over itself from all 4 sides. Crimp the dough where al the corners meet.

Remove any remaining pieces of dough from your bowl. Lightly oil the bowl and place the dough seam side down in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough sit at room temperature and increase to twice its size. Fine Cooking says this takes 90 minutes, but mine took 3 hours.

Line 2 baking sheets with lightly oiled parchment paper. Divide your dough into 18 even pieces (each will weigh about 2.25 ounces).

On a lightly oiled surface, roll each piece into a 12 inch long rope, using your hands. Do not add more flour to the work surface at this point.

Tie the dough into a loose knot. Tuck the shorter end of the dough under the loop and the longer end of the dough over the loop.

This link will be much more helpful in explaining how to knot these rolls, but its really easy once you try it. Click here for tutorial.

Gently squeeze the shaped roll together to form a circle and place on your baking sheet, pretty side up. Repeat with all the dough.

Mist the tops of the rolls with oil and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Let the rolls rest until they begin to swell, about 1 hour (I got lazy and only waited about 30 minutes for this step).

Place your oven rack in the top and bottom third of your oven. Preheat your oven to 375F/190C (if using a convection oven, heat it to 400F).

Whisk together the egg and 1 tablespoon of water. Lightly brush the tops of the rolls with the eggs wash. Sprinkle the rolls with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or seeds of choice, if using.

While the oven is heating, let the rolls continure to rise, so they are about 1 1/2 to 2 times their original size when they go in to bake. This may take anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes, so don't heat your oven too soon if it's quick to warm up.

Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 6 minutes. Rotate the sheets 180 degrees and switch their placement on the oven racks. Bake until the tops of the rolls are a rich, golden brown color, another 6 to 8 minutes. Allow the rolls to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

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