Saturday, October 14, 2006

Sweet Dough

foodblog 1056
This is the other recipe we made in our class on breads. The following week, dubbed "French Day" by Chef Foran, we made a veritable plethora of classic french recipes - Pate a Choux, Puff Pastry (using the "blitz" method") and Crepes, which I will post next. These are all so basic, but again - just like the french bread, magic. Such good stuff from so few ingredients.

My dough hook did come in, but it's pretty clear that my little mixer will not handle this whole recipe, so I will probably halve it. I plan to try it later today or tomorrow and I will post some pictures.  This is the recipe for plain straight yeast rolls - for the cinnamon rolls above, click here.

Sweet Dough
(makes 3 dozen 2 oz rolls - we did one dozen round rolls, one dozen cloverleaf rolls, and one dozen single knots.)

2 pounds 10 oz bread flour
3/4 oz instant dry yeast
20 fl. oz whole milk
4 oz butter - very soft
4 oz eggs
4 oz sugar
1 oz kosher salt

egg wash
1 egg
2 T water
pinch salt

Place the bread flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer.

Warm the milk gently to between 105 and 115 degrees. Add the yeast and allow to foam (this could take a few minutes.) Add the milk mixture, butter and eggs all at once into the flour mixture.  Blend in the mixer until the dough starts to come away from the sides. Knead a bit longer with the dough hook, then turn out onto a floured surface and knead by hand until it is smooth and elastic, and a small ball can be flattened and stretched paper thin without breaking. (This is called the "window test.") It will still be quite soft and a bit sticky.

When the dough is sufficiently kneaded, form it into a smooth ball. Keep it flat on the surface, but turn it in circles with both hands - simultaneously stretching the surface down over the top and tucking it under until the dough is perfectly round and taut on top, and has a little indentation on the bottom. Place the ball smooth side up in a lightly oiled bowl covered with plastic wrap, and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in volume. (The amount of time this takes will vary depending on the conditions - but it should take less than an hour. The inside of the oven with just the light on is a good spot for this).

Turn the dough out of the bowl and punch it down to let the excess gasses out. Let it rest for just a few minutes. Decide how you want to shape the dough, and cut it into appropriate portions. For dinner rolls use 2 oz of dough per roll. If you are making cloverleaf rolls, divide the 2 oz portions into 3 balls about 1 inch across. Roll each ball across the work surface with your palm, simultaneously stretching the surface of the roll and tucking the edge under the ball with your fingers. It's a fluid motion, sort of like rolling dice only with your palm down. Place three balls in a muffin tin.

For regular rolls, do the same rolling motion with the 2 oz of dough, and place on a cookie sheet covered with parchment. If you like, you can place the balls close together for a pull-apart effect, or sufficiently apart to create a round roll with crust all the way around.

To make knots, roll each 2 oz piece of dough into a snake about eight inches long, and tie in a knot, so the ends are flush with the surface.

Place the formed dough in a warm moist place to proof for about 45 minutes, until risen to the appropriate size for baking (assume they will rise a bit more in the oven.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and brush the rolls generously with the eggwash mixture. Bake the rolls for about 10-15 minutes, carefully watching for the browning. They should be fairly deep brown when they are done - the surface caramelizes fairly quickly because of the sugar content in the dough.

Tear apart and devour warm, with butter. Mmmmm....

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