OH MY GOODNESS.
*INSERT CRAZY LAUGHTER HERE*
I AM BREAD MAKER, HEAR ME ROAR.
Indulge my craziness, friends. A few days ago I accomplished my biggest triumph yet! I made bread, REAL BREAD, from SCRATCH. And I’m not talking pizza dough. I’m not talking quickbreads for monkey bread. I’m talking a real, made from scratch, rises-five-different-times, honest-to-goodness CRUSTY BREAD.
Can I get a HELL YEAH?
In case you’ve never wandered over there, my about page mentions my fear of baking. I think when I first started this blog, way back in May 2009, I listed learning to bake bread as a major goal. And last Christmas my sister-in-law Amy (of the Uncanny moniker fame) even gave me a bread baker’s newbie kit. I was all set up for success… it just took me 10 months to try it!
Of course I don’t go with an easy recipe for my first time. This is a Martha Stewart recipe, y’all. And you know Her Holiness of All Things Domestic doesn’t do anything EASILY. No sir. This dough rises, let me count… FIVE TIMES.
That Martha is so hardcore. I will say, I am impressed with this recipe. The dough comes out extra fluffy and chewy on the inside, with a crust that is simply Heaven-sent. I like my bread crusty, so if you’re looking for a soft roll, this recipe isn’t for you. I mean, there is a time and a place for soft rolls, definitely. But a good and hot, crusty roll, straight out of the oven? YES. A THOUSAND TIMES YES.
Crusty Dinner Rolls
Martha Stewart Living, January 2007
Makes 16 2-inch rolls
For the starter
5-1/4 ounces King Arthur unbleached all-purpose flour (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
pinch of active dry yeast
5-1/2 ounces cool water (2/3 cup, 75 degrees to 78 degrees)
For the dough
11 ounces King Arthur unbleached all-purpose flour (2-1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon)
1-3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
6 ounces cool water (3/4 cup, 75 degrees to 78 degrees)
1-3/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
vegetable-oil cooking spray
all-purpose flour, for dusting
three mixing bowls (one very deep bowl for rising, or use a bread-rising bucket)
rim-less cookie sheet
lame (bread-slashing blade)
Make the starter. Stir together flour, yeast, and water with a rubber spatula in a medium mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let stand at cool room temperature until it has risen slightly and bubbles cover entire surface, 12 to 15 hours. (This is best done the night before you plan to make the rolls.)
Bubbles over the surface of the starter
Make the dough. Whisk together flour and yeast in a large bowl. Add water and starter, and stir with spatula until mixture comes together in a slightly sticky, loosely formed ball of dough. The dough will look a bit shaggy, which is fine. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes. Prepare a deep mixing bowl or bread-rising bucket by spraying the entire inside with vegetable oil cooking spray.
Gently turn dough onto an unfloured work surface. Sprinkle with salt. Knead dough until it is smooth, supple, and elastic 8 to 10 minutes. (The original recipe directions to knead are: “gather dough, lifting it above work surface. Hold one end of dough close to you while you cast the other end in front of you, onto the surface. Pull the end of dough in your hands toward you, stretching it gently, then fold the dough in half on top of itself. Repeat. Lift, cast, stretch, and fold.” I found this very hard to do, since the dough stuck to my hands endlessly. Instead, I opted for a “smear” knead; smear the dough with the ball of your hand away from you, then claw the dough back towards you into a ball, turn a quarter way, and smear again.) Use a dough scraper to clean the surface as needed, adding the scraps to the dough. The dough will be VERY VERY sticky; I referred to it as the “super glue stage.” Do not add more flour, even though the dough will stick to your hands. Right before I started kneading, my dough was quite lumpy, but by the end of 8 minutes, it was quite smooth, although still quite sticky. Form into a ball; dip your hands in flour at the very end, and pat the dough with your floured fingers to help you form it into a ball.
Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with oiled plastic wrap (oil plastic wrap by spraying one side with vegetable oil cooking spray). Let rise at cool room temperature for 45 minutes. Gently turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. (Do not punch down; because the bowl is oiled, you should just be able to slide the dough straight onto your floured countertop.) Fold into thirds, as you would a business letter. Then fold it in half crosswise. Spray bowl inside again with cooking spray, and return dough to bowl, cover, and let rise at cool room temperature until it has almost doubled, at least 75 minutes.
Gently turn dough onto a lightly floured surface (again, it should slide out of the bowl easily). Using a dough scraper or a knife, divide dough into 2 equal portions. Cover with oiled plastic wrap, and let rest for 20 minutes.
Shape the rolls. On a lightly floured surface, spread each portion of dough into a rectangle that’s roughly 10 by 6 inches. Fold dough into thirds lengthwise again, as you would a business letter, pressing seams with your fingers. Working with 1 portion of dough at a time, keeping remaining dough covered, fold dough in half lengthwise to form a tight, narrow log. (So the dough should be folded in thirds like a letter, first, and then folded again lengthwise, second. You will end up with a very skinny log.) Gently press edges with lightly floured fingertips to seal. Using a dough scraper or a knife, cut into 8 pieces. Gather edges of each piece, and gently pull and tuck them underneath the dough to create a round shape, pinching to seal. Place each piece of dough on the work surface. Cup one hand around dough, and rotate it in circles until a smooth, taut ball forms. Place each shaped roll on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap, and let rise at cool room temperature until rolls have almost doubled and a floured finger pressed into side leaves a slight indentation, 30 to 40 minutes.
Bake rolls. Meanwhile, place an oven-proof skillet on oven rack adjusted to lowest position and a baking stone on middle oven rack. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Just before baking, use a lame or a razor blade to slash the surface of each roll, forming an X. Pour 1/2 cup hot water into skillet in oven. Slide rolls and parchment onto baking stone.
Immediately reduce oven to 450 degrees. Bake until rolls are deep golden brown, sound hollow when bottoms are thumped, and interiors register 205 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool on racks. Rolls are best the day you make them, but they can be wrapped in parchment and then foil, and stored at room temperature overnight (or frozen for up to 1 month; thaw at room temperature before serving).
Herb Compound Butter
Original recipe from The Kitchenette
Makes 2 6-oz logs
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons minced thyme
1/4 cup minced parsley
1/4 cup minced basil
Stir the herbs into the softened butter until thoroughly combined. Place half of the butter mixture on a large sheet of plastic wrap. Cover the butter with one end of the plastic wrap and use your hands to shape the butter into a log. Carefully roll up the butter, pushing out all the air bubbles and pinching the ends. Repeat with the remaining butter. Freeze logs until ready to use. (Make ahead: Can be made up to 3 months in advance, and frozen until later use. Let come to room temperature for 6 hours before use, and re-whip using a spoon or fork before serving.)
Thanksgiving Menu 2010:
Autumn Salad with Apples and Spiced Pecans
Steak over Butternut Squash with Caramelized Onions
Glazed Squash and Sweet Potatoes
Broccoli Puree with Parmesan
Crusty Dinner Rolls with Herb Butter
Thanksgiving Background Music Recommendation of the Day – in our house, we like a constant stream of mellow background music to enjoy along with our holiday festivities. Here is a week of safe-for-childrens’-ears, no-curse-words-to-creep-out-Grandma, soft tunes to accompany your turkey and mashed potatoes. (And not one of my recommendations will be a washed-up-musician’s rendering of Christmas hits, I promise.)
Mumford & Sons / White Blank Page
I’m sure you’ve heard of these guys, since they seem to be the music industry darlings, at least for the summer anyways. But they’re just so HAPPY. And their songs won’t offend anyone at your Thanksgiving table, which is always a plus. (It can get kind of awkward explaining to Grandma what Lil’ Wayne’s song “Lollipop” is about. Just saying.)