Archives for posts with tag: yeast rolls
Photo shows whole pecan rolls.

Hot homemade pecan rolls. Photo by Sharyn Dimmick, who ate the missing one.

Two of my lovely readers, Smidge and Granny, asked me separately what the theme for November would be on The Kale Chronicles. I said I wouldn’t know until Sunday. Here it is Sunday evening and I have had a little time to think about themes for November. My first theme for November is returning to solvency. To that end I sold some more books. To that end I studied the buskers at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market yesterday, watching to see who was making money and who was not: the guy playing quietly to himself and not looking at passers-by had two or three dollar bills in his hat; the guy who sat in a chair playing the blues with his face to the crowds had a guitar case full of dollar bills. Who do you suppose I plan to emulate when I make my debut next Saturday afternoon? In the spirit of solvency I will be continuing to work with what we’ve got around here: today’s recipe incorporates some of the lovely pecans Lisa Knighton just shipped out here.

My second theme for November is NaNoWriMo, aka National Novel Writing Month. As a NaNoRebel I eschew the novel form altogether and have started another 50,000 word installment of my memoir, covering the history of Johnny and Sharyn, my pitiful finances and my various attempts to make money. I may post an excerpt of it here sometime in November to honor what I am doing (I spent the afternoon at a write-in at the Berkeley Public Library, scarfing leftover Hallowe’en candy and black tea, participating in “word wars” with my fountain pen — trying to write more words than dextrous young-ens typing on laptops — and feeling a little like John Henry meeting the steam drill…). At the end of the day I dropped my pen nib into my bottle of black ink by mistake and was grateful for my garage rag and bottle of water with which I scrubbed it clean, wiped the table and began to remove ink from my hands before going home to knead the roll dough that I had left rising in the fridge.

Which brings me to the third theme for November, always and forever a month of gratitude with Thanksgiving the third week in to remind us Yanks about sharing food with others, helping people and other things that got the Native Americans run out of their territory. My friend Vicki has started a month of gratitude posts on Facebook and it makes me happy to go to her page once a day and think about what I am grateful for: today it was the computer I type on and the apple pie that Mom made last night, specifically the slice of it I had for breakfast this morning with my decaf coffee.

When I was in the kitchen this morning mixing up sweet roll dough I realized that I had not had my hands in soft dough for a long time: roll dough is the lightest of yeast doughs — I can knead a full batch by hand without resorting to the Kitchen Aid with the dough hook. I used to make bread every week. I don’t know what happened to that habit — I just fell out of it somehow, between the demands of sourdough starter and the activities of daily living. I enjoyed having my hands in the fragrant dough, stirring with a wooden spoon, working in six cups of flour, greasing the bowl with a little butter before heating a tea towel and setting the dough to rise.

My pecan roll (and cinnamon roll and orange roll and spice roll) recipe comes from our trusty Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook. I make a full recipe of Sweet Roll Dough, using mostly butter, amending it to include a cup of whole wheat flour for health’s sake, scalding the milk because my Grandmother Carroll always scalded the milk. Before I leave to write at the library I divide the just rising dough in half. I give half to my mother to shape into clover leaf rolls and tell her to transfer my half to the refrigerator for a slow rise when she punches her dough down.

For the pecan filling I look at The Cheese Board Collective Works: they make delicious pecan rolls except for the mornings when some misguided person throws Sultanas or golden raisins in them and I have to pick them out. Repeat after me, “Raisins do not belong in pecan rolls, which are all about pecans, brown sugar and butter.” I take inspiration from their recipe, but not proportions: there is no way I am going to include a stick and a half of butter in twenty rolls. Theirs are good. Mine will not induce a heart attack. Pecans have healthy fat for you; butter not so much. If I use half a cup of butter it will be a lot.

To make your own pecan rolls, procure at least a cup of pecan pieces. Make sure you have milk, sugar, eggs, white and whole wheat flour, butter, yeast and brown sugar and cinnamon in the house. Then proceed with the recipe below.

Pecan Rolls

Proof 4 and 1/2 teaspoons yeast in 1/2 cup of lukewarm water. (If your yeast is sluggish, add a pinch of sugar and a pinch of flour)

Scald 1 cup milk.

Add to milk one stick of soft butter (1/2 cup) and 1/2 cup sugar. If you use salted butter you will not need to add any salt. Otherwise, add a pinch.

Pour milk mixture into a large mixing bowl.

Beat 2 eggs in the cup that you used to measure the milk. Temper the eggs with the warm liquid and add them to the  mixing bowl.

Add 1 cup whole wheat flour, plus 2 and 1/2 cups unbleached flour.

Check temperature with fingers. When mixture is no more than warm add reserved yeast.

Continue to add flour by the cupful until you have a soft but firm consistency. I used six cups total flour today, beginning with the cup of whole wheat and eventually adding five cups of unbleached flour, but sometimes the recipe takes as much as seven cups altogether. You know how bread is.

Cover roll dough with warm damp dish towel and go away for awhile. When dough has doubled in size, punch it down. If you do not have time to wait through the next rise, put the covered dough in the refrigerator and pull it out this evening or tomorrow morning. Let it warm and then roll it out on a floured board into a large rectangle. Roll it thin, but not so thin that it will break, perhaps 1/2 inch or a little thicker.

Let dough rest while you melt 1 stick of butter and stir in 3/4 cup brown sugar, plus 1/4 tsp cinnamon.

Spread one third of this mixture in the bottom of a baking pan (I used a 13″ x 9″ Pyrex pan), leaving a clear border at the edges with no goo.

Spread the rest of the butter and sugar mixture on the dough. Sprinkle on the pecans evenly and roll the dough up like a jelly roll, starting from the short side of the rectangle. Slice one-inch rounds from the log with a sharp, serrated knife and place each roll atop the goo in the pan. Let rise for fifteen minutes while you preheat your oven to 350.

Bake 25 minutes or until sufficiently brown. Then invert carefully onto another plate so that the goo runs down over the rolls. Enjoy, perhaps with a glass of milk.

Painting Note. No painting. I started one but I prefer not to paint after dark. When I finish it I’ll pop it into the post later in the week. Meanwhile I have NaNoWords to type.

Painting shows Dutch Crunch rolls on baking sheet, plus sandwich on a roll.

Dutch Crunch Rolls. 8″ x 8″ Gouache. Sharyn Dimmick

Sara and Erica of Baking JDs were our March 2012 Daring Baker hostesses! Sara & Erica challenged us to make Dutch Crunch bread, a delicious sandwich bread with a unique, crunchy topping. Sara and Erica also challenged us to create a one of a kind sandwich with our bread!

In my long history of bread baking I had never made Dutch Crunch bread or rolls. I have eaten Dutch Crunch often enough to remember what it looks like with the famous crackled top, sort of like bread dough that morphed into ginger snaps. Because I needed to make a sandwich I went for rolls rather than a loaf of bread and because I needed a reliable roll recipe under the crunch topping I used my grandmother’s roll recipe. You can read that recipe here and read more about Grandma Carroll here.

Well, I should say I started to make my grandma’s roll recipe, but it became apparent that I was going to need to make a few substitutions. First, I normally cook with 1% or 2% milk, but Mom had come home with a gallon of skim milk by mistake last week and we are trying to use it up. Then, when I measured the corn oil I found that I only had 1/3 cup and I needed 2 Tbsp of that for the crunch topping. Second substitution — subtract 2 Tbsp oil from the dough and replace it with 2 Tbsp butter. Done. Third substitution: Grandma’s rolls are a rich, eggy dough and I wanted a little more wheat flavor in a sandwich bun, so instead of using 5 cups of unbleached flour I used 4 cups unbleached and 1 cup whole wheat. Four: we had several bargain-priced packets of Rapid Rise yeast that I wanted to use up: normally, I use loose active dry yeast that I buy in bulk. Since the yeast bubbled adequately in its warm water I knew it was fine: what I didn’t know is how long the roll dough would take to rise.

What I like about roll dough, as opposed to bread dough, is that it is light enough to knead by hand —  I can just stand at the bread board and work. I had to add 2 Tbsp extra flour to the dough, probably because it was a rainy day. I learned from The Cheese Board Collective Works to add flour by the tablespoon when doughs are too sticky or wet to hold their shape. Sometimes it takes several tablespoons to fix wet dough but you don’t run the risk of getting dry, floury dough because you got impatient and dumped in half a cup at a time.

Just before I made up my dough I put an orange-marinated pork loin in the oven to roast. For the real recipe, visit Bewitching Kitchen. I used Sally’s marinade, but did not make the accompanying sauce. By the time I had kneaded the dough and corrected its stickiness it was time to look at the pork loin and think about side dishes. Mom wanted applesauce and thawed some and I saw an opportunity to use some cabbage.  I heated a skillet over medium heat with a little olive oil and a half-Tablespoon of butter while I sliced cabbage. Since the pork loin was not done, I basted it with marinade and tossed some cauliflower and carrots in a little olive oil, adding them to the roasting pan and turned down the skillet to a low simmer to keep warm until I was ready to cook the cabbage.  We usually eat lunch at noon, but noon had come and gone before anything was ready. By the time I sliced the meat and fried the cabbage and heated plates and microwaved the applesauce, it was nearly 12:30.

Lunch was ready just when the bread dough was ready for shaping, of course. Uh-oh. Hoping for the best, I punched it down for the third time so that I could eat my lunch while it was hot. I poured my tea and brought it back down to the kitchen.   I cranked up the oven to 400 degrees and got out my dough cutter to divide the dough in half.

Perhaps because some people call Dutch Crunch “Tiger Bread” or perhaps because we still have a lot of oranges I got the idea to make half regular Dutch Crunch rolls and half orange Dutch Crunch. For the orange rolls, I zested one orange, added an extra Tablespoon of sugar to the dough and squeezed in 1 Tablespoon of fresh orange juice. I kneaded it just enough to incorporate these ingredients and let it sit while I shaped the regular Dutch Crunch rolls. I used half the recipe to make six large buns to use as sandwich rolls, which I placed as far apart as possible on a standard baking sheet that I had rubbed with a little butter.

Retrieving the orange dough, I shaped it into nine smaller buns.

Then I made the Dutch Crunch topping from a recipe provided by Daring Kitchen. The basic version called for

2 Tablespoons active dry yeast

1 cup warm water

2 Tablespoons sugar

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 tsp salt

1 and 1/2 cups rice flour (NOT sweet rice flour). Increase by a cup or more for homemade rice flour. I ended up using 1 cup sweet rice flour, 1/2 cup ground basmati rice and 1 and 1/2 cups ground brown rice.

When I pulled the rice flour out of the cupboard it was, of course, sweet rice flour! Undeterred, I measured 1 cup of it and then proceeded to check various containers for rice that I could throw in the blender to make instant rice flour. I used half a cup of white basmati rice and about a cup and a half of short-grain brown rice. What I learned is that the blender will make rice flour out of rice, brown or white, and probably black or red, too — there is no reason to buy any rice flour ever again.

So I whisked up the crunch topping, which looks like a thick, grainy paste, and let it sit for fifteen minutes as instructed, then used my hands to glop it onto the top of each roll, applying it liberally. By the time I had smeared it on all fifteen rolls it was time to bake them.

Silly me: I forgot that the orange crunch rolls would brown faster because of the extra sugar in the dough. Oops. I managed to get them out just in time after about twelve minutes. The regular Dutch Crunch rolls took another three minutes, probably because I made them larger.

Now I’m supposed to make a splendid sandwich. How about orange-roasted pork loin with arugula on Dutch crunch? I’ll spread the bun with a little peach chutney mixed with yogurt, but before I do that I’ll toast the bun in the toaster oven.

Food Notes: You should make this if you adore Dutch Crunch and you might as well grind your own rice, which takes less than a minute.

painting of my Grandmother's Kitchen

Grandma’s Kitchen, El Cerrito, CA. 8″ by 8″ Watercolor pencil and gouache. Sharyn Dimmick.

My Grandma was not a great cook — maybe not even a good cook: she was a home cook who fed threshing crews, a husband and seven children on very little money. But she could make bread: my Mom remembers her making bread in a huge dishpan, four loaves at a time. She made jam, too, and I am sorry not to have her recipe for berry jam (she died before I got interested in canning) — I don’t know what kind of berries she used. Not strawberries, but maybe blackberries and raspberries together? I don’t know. She made excellent chicken and noodles and a nice cocoa cake. On holidays she brought the rolls.

Mom made rolls, too, but not for Thanksgiving or Christmas. She liked to make “bread rolls,” a less rich roll dough. She liked to use dried milk. Grandma always used fresh milk and scalded it. She warmed the flour and the eggs. She used oil rather than shortening or butter.

After Grandma died at ninety-six, I took over her roll-making job: I make yeast-risen oil rolls. I make cloverleaf rolls in a muffin tin greased with Crisco because that is what my Mom always did. The recipe comes from Grandma. The shape comes from Mom. My contribution is sometimes to sneak in a little whole wheat flour, but everybody else likes it better if I don’t: the consensus is that we should be allowed to eat white flour on holidays, along with pie and gravy and stuffing and whipped cream. “It’s only for one day,” Mom says. Two, if we’re counting Christmas, but hey, why be literal-minded?

Here is my grandmother’s recipe for rolls.

Scald 1 cup of milk and pull off burner to cool.

Dissolve 4 and 1/2 tsp of yeast (two packets) in 1/2 cup lukewarm water by sprinkling the yeast into the water in a one-cup liquid measuring cup and beating it with a fork

To the scalded milk, add:

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup corn oil. You can add this stuff while the milk is still warm — it will speed the cooling.

While the milk is cooling to lukewarm, if you want to imitate my grandmother you need to warm the flour and eggs. This is how you do it.

Turn on your oven to warm or low. Measure 5 cups sifted flour into a glass, metal or ceramic bowl. Bury 2 large whole eggs in the shell in the flour. Turn off the oven. Set the bowl in the oven for a few minutes until the flour is warm to the touch. This is a good trick for cold kitchens: the warmed flour gives the yeast a little boost.

Remove eggs from flour (or just take 2 eggs out of your fridge) Beat the eggs until blended and whisk them into your milk-oil-sugar mixture. Pour liquids, including eggs over flour. Add dissolved yeast.

Knead until dough is uniform, soft and spongy — about ten minutes by hand. The dough should be soft and light, but not sticky. If it is a humid day, you might have to add more flour, but you only want to do that if it is impossible to knead.

Cover your bread bowl with a warm, damp tea towel (I like linen and find that dampening it and microwaving it for twenty seconds gets it warm enough).

Set bowl in warm oven (warm from before — your oven should not be on at this point) or other warm draft-free spot. We have been known to run our clothes dryer for awhile before turning it off and setting the covered bowl of dough inside to rise. Let dough rise until double — I’m going to say an hour, but you need to go by volume rather than time.

Punch dough down and let it rise again. This will take half the time of the first rise.

While dough is rising the second time, get out your Crisco vegetable shortening that you bought to make pie crust. Grease two normal-size 12 cup muffin tins or 1 12-cup muffin tin and one 6-cup one. This recipe will yield eighteen to twenty-four cloverleaf dinner rolls, depending on how big you make them. If you have extra dough, plop it in a small greased bowl and make a bun.

When dough has doubled again, punch it down and form cloverleaf rolls by pinching off three balls of dough. They should be about the size of the circle you make with your thumb and forefinger, unless you have huge hands, in which case they can be a little smaller. Place three balls of dough in each greased muffin cup: as the dough rises and spreads it will fill the muffin tin and leave you with rolls.

While your rolls complete their last rise, go ahead and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Do not put the rolls in it yet. The rolls are ready to go in when they have risen above the edge of the muffin cups.

Bake rolls in 425 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Serve hot — or at least warm. You can eat them cold later — and you will, if there are any left. We eye them jealously and fight for our share. Sometimes we make more during the holiday weekend if we feel we have been shorted.

Food Notes: These rolls are simple and good. You can add a touch of butter to the milk mixture if you like. You can also substitute up to 1 cup of whole wheat flour for unbleached flour or bread flour — add more than that and you will lose their marvelous lightness and beautiful creamy color. My brother would say just lose the whole wheat flour altogether and my Mom would say to hold it to a quarter cup. You can, of course, use only one packet of yeast or 2 and 1/4 teaspoons — if you do, things will just take a little longer: these rolls take me about two and a half to three hours total time.

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