Saturday, February 27, 2010

Dinner Rolls

When I found the world of cooking blogs sometime last year I was opened up to a whole new
domain filled with exciting recipes and great photographs. As I perused some of my favorites, I kept stumbling upon the name Peter Reinhart when bloggers waxed on about bread. After a little research, I decided my plan of attack was to purchase The Bread Baker's Apprentice and see for myself. That purchase has definitely been one of the best I have made in my quest for really learning about bread.
Reinhart is truly a teacher and goes to great lengths to thoroughly explain the many stages that bread goes through so the student can begin to comprehend the how's and why's behind the art. Reinhart is to bread baking what Alton Brown is to cooking...he includes the science of bread making from explaining the ingredients to informative photographs on shaping and preparing a home oven for hearth baking. Here, I am including a simple dinner roll recipe that we used to make mini sloppy joes.

White Bread: Variation One
Makes two one pound loaves, 18 dinner rolls, or 12 burger or hot dog buns

4 3/4 c. unbleached bread flour (I use King Arthur)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. powdered milk (DMS)
3 1/4 T. sugar
2 tsp. instant yeast
1 large egg, slightly beaten at room temperature
3 1/4 T. butter, margarine, or shortening, melted or at room temperature
1 1/2 c. plus 1 T.-1 3/4 c. water, at room temperature
Sesame or poppy seeds for garnish (optional)

1. Mix together the flour, salt, powdered milk, sugar, and yeast in a bowl of electric mixer. Pour in the egg, butter, and 1 1/2 plus 1 T. water and mix on low speed with paddle attachment until all flour is absorbed and dough forms a ball. If dough seems stiff and dry trickle in more water until the dough is soft and supple.
2. Mix on medium speed with dough hook attachment, adding more flour if necessary to create a dough that is soft, supple, and tacky but NOT sticky. Continue mixing for 6-8 minutes. In the electric mixer the dough should clear the sides of the bowl, but stick ever so slightly to the bottom. The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 80 degrees F. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
3. Ferment at room temp for 1 1/2-2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.
4. Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it in half for sandwich rolls, into 18 2 oz. pieces for dinner rolls, or 12 3 oz. pieces for burger or hot dog buns. Shape the pieces into boules for loaves or tight rounds for dinner rolls or buns. Mist the dough lightly with spray oil and cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Allow to rest for about 20 minutes.
5. For loaves shape and lightly oil 2 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pans and place the loaves in the pans. For rolls and buns, line two sheet pans with baking parchment. Rolls require no further shaping. For hamburger buns, gently press down on the rolls to form the desired shape. For hot dog buns, shape without tapering the ends. Transfer the rolls or buns to the sheet pans.
6. Mist the tops of the dough with spray oil and loosely cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Proof the dough at room temp for 60-90 mins. or until it nearly doubles in size.
7. Preheat the oven to 350 for loaves or 400 for rolls and buns.
8. Bake the rolls or buns for approximately 15 mins., or until golden brown and register just above 180 degrees in the center. Bake loaves for 35-45 mins., rotating 180 degrees halfway through for even baking, if needed. The tops should be golden brown and the sides, when removed from the pan should also be golden. The internal temperature of the loaves should be close to 190 degrees and the loaves should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.
9. When the loaves have finished baking, remove them immediately from pans and cool on wire rack for at least one hour before slicing or serving. Rolls should cool for at least 15 minutes on a rack before serving.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Valentine Treats

Although this is coming at you a week late, I wanted to share the treats I made for Valentine's Day. The first photo is the almond toffee crunch topped with chocolate. The second photo shows some simple chocolate dipped pretzels adorned with sprinkles, and the final photo is my new favorite sugar cookie recipe topped with modified royal icing. These cookies were delicious! I do want to note that I did not add the full 1 1/2 tsp. of almond extract to the dough. I thought that sounded a little heavy handed, so I compensated be adding a touch more vanilla as a replacement.

Almond Toffee Crunch
shared by The Quail's Nest

1/2 cup chopped almonds or pecans (toasted)
1 cup butter
1cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon corn syrup
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds or pecans (toasted)

Line a 13" x 9" pan with foil, extending over edge. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup nuts and set aside.

Butter sides of heavy 2 quart saucepan. Melt butter and add sugar, water, and corn syrup. Cook and stir over medium high heat until mixture comes to a boil. Clip a candy thermometer on pan and reduce heat to medium. Continue boiling at moderate, steady rate, stirring frequently until thermometer registers 290 degrees (soft-about 15 mins.). Watch carefully after it reaches 280 to prevent scorching. Remove from heat and quickly pour into prepared pan. Let candy stand for about 5 mins. and then sprinkle with the chocolate chips. When the chocolate has melted, smooth with knife/spatula and finally sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup nuts.