Friday, February 19, 2010

Wonder Wife Recipe: Dinner Rolls

These rolls kick butt. Soft, chewy, and delicious, they are also very, very simple to make. No mixer needed. And really, no kneading needed. So no more talking. Let's get to it, shall we?

Mix 4 cups of bread flour (PLEASE use bread flour if you can - makes for way chewier and crustier bread) with 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon yeast.

Get some hot tap water running. Once it's hot, pour two cups into your flour mixture.

And there you have it! Kick-butt rolls! See how easy?!

Ha-ha. Just kidding. Mix well until it's all combined, and cover with a lid.

Let rest for an hour and a half, or longer if you like. Just keep punching down the dough when it's risen to keep it from deflating on its own. Then, I believe, it would be a lost cause. So don't let that happen!

Once the dough has risen at least once, it's ready to bake. Prepare your pan. I'm using a stoneware baker from Pampered Chef, which makes the bread nice and crusty. But you can use a cookie sheet, pie pan, Pyrex dish, anything!

Please, please go heavy on the olive oil.

Because good fats are good for your heart, and omega-3 fatty acids have been proven to BLAH BLAH BLAH - honestly, because it will taste good.

Spread the oil around on the baking dish, a step that I have not photographed. Actually, there are going to be a few steps without photos from here on out, because my hands were oily and I just... figured you guys would be smart enough to fill in the gaps.

Scrape the dough out onto a floured cutting board and knead briefly. Use lots of flour here, because this stuff is STA-HICKY! (Sticky.) The high water content makes the bread moist, but it also makes it treacherously gooey.

With a knife, cut the dough into nine pieces (for large rolls) or as many as twelve (for smaller rolls).

Form each piece into a ball using the "bubble gum" method - use your thumbs to push in the center while using your other fingers to pull the outer skin taut. Pinch the excess underneath together like the extra "wad of gum" you'd have after blowing a bubble.

Brush with more olive oil to help the toppings stick. You'll want to sprinkle on 1 teaspoon of freshly chopped rosemary (Don't use dried! Using nothing is better than using dried rosemary here!)...

... And a light sprinkling of crunchy sea salt. I bought this oh-so-cheap brand in Ocracoke at the grocery store because it was all they had and I was in a pinch because all I had packed for our camping trip was salt SUBSTITUTE by mistake. This is no fancy salt. But the rolls are still great, so hey! Go ahead and use that fancy grey British salt you have in the cupboard if you want, but I'm here to tell you it's not required.

The rolls would be just fine without anything more, but because I was in the mood, I sprinkled about half a cup of grated Romano cheese on top of the rolls.

Cover with plastic wrap and wait for the oven to preheat to 375 degrees F.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until nicely browned.

I accidentally left these in for about 50 minutes, so they were CRA-hunchy! (Crunchy. But still great. Fantastic, in fact. Because these rolls are hard to screw up.)

Are further words required? I didn't think so. Pardon my pushiness, but MAKE THESE.

Rosemary-Romano Dinner Rolls with Olive Oil and Sea Salt
(I came up with the recipe, so I get to call it this long name, and so there!)
  • 4 cups BREAD flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • 2 cups hot tap water

  • Olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon freshly chopped rosemary
  • 1/2 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
  • Sea salt or kosher salt
Mix together flour, yeast, and salt. Stir in hot water and mix well. Cover and set aside until risen, about 1 1/2 hours, or longer. Just keep pushing down the dough when it's risen. You can do that all day long if you want to.

Prepare a baking dish - stoneware, glass pie plate, whatever - by pouring in a few tablespoons of olive oil.

Dump dough out onto a floured board. Have lots of flour at hand - the dough will be sticky. Form as many rolls as you like - I made nine, and they were fairly large. I like to use what I call a "bubble gum" method: use the thumbs to push in the centers while using your other fingers to pull the outer skin taut. Pinch the excess underneath together like the extra "wad of gum" you'd have after blowing a bubble. This is a pretty sticky dough, so I've found that to be the easiest way to do it.

But whatever floats your boat.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Place rolls into the dish, keeping in mind that they will spread in the oven. Brush with more olive oil, sprinkle with rosemary, and top with Romano cheese. Cover with plastic wrap until the oven is preheated.

Bake, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes or until nicely browned.

For the record, if you have neither rosemary nor sea salt nor Romano cheese, you should still make these rolls. Heck, top them with cheddar, Lowry's, and bacon if you want to!

Just make them.

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