Monday, February 22, 2010

Two and a Half Successes

I had been waiting for an opportunity to make these wheat dinner rolls again. I made them last week, but then had to let a few days elapse so that C wouldn't accuse me of trying to kill him with carbs. I was a little disappointed with them the first time. While the recipe specifies instant yeast, I had only had active dry on hand and had subbed that in. The resulting rolls were soft and delicious but didn't quite satisfy me aesthetically. They just didn't rise as much as I thought they should. Since that modified disappointment, I had picked up some packets of instant yeast in anticipation of my next opportunity to make another run at them. So when yesterday (my day to cook dinner) shaped up to be cool, misty, and cloudy, I figured this was the perfect opportunity to see how much of a difference instant yeast could actually make. Following the recipe more to the letter definitely produced a bigger and fluffier result. Total win.

Here's the recipe, copied from the above blog. My notes follow.

Maple Wheat Pull-Apart Rolls


1 1/2 cups warmed unsweetened soy milk (microwave about 30 seconds)
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 pkg. instant yeast (quick-rise)**
1/4 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
2 cups unbleached white flour***
1 teaspoon salt
Oil for brushing

In a large bowl, combine soy milk and maple syrup. Add yeast and stir to dissolve. Cover and let sit until bubbly, about 5 minutes.

To yeast mixture, add canola oil, whole-wheat flour, 1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour, and salt. Stir until well mixed.

Generously flour a work surface with some the remaining flour and place dough on it. Knead dough, gradually incorporating remaining flour (until the dough you’ve incorporated enough that the dough doesn’t stick to your hands). The kneading will take 10 to 12 minutes. By the end of this time the dough should be slightly sticky but it should not stick to your hands (add a little more flour if it does). Place dough in a large oiled bowl, turn dough in bowl to coat with oil, and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Place in a warm place. Let rise until doubled, 30 to 45 minutes.

Lightly oil an 9″x16″ glass baking pan. Divide dough into 16 equal pieces, shape into round balls, brush lightly with oil, and place in prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap, place in a warm place, and let rise until until doubled, 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake rolls until golden brown, 20 minutes.

I found that I need quite a bit more flour than this calls for above, but the author mentions that this is due to differences in altitude. Also, just a word on yeast for those of you unaccustomed to it. When proofing your yeast (waiting for it to prove itself to you), it's very important not to overheat your milk/water. You want it warm to the touch, but nothing close to hot or you risk killing your yeasties and having all your efforts be for naught. Also, I used a rather smaller pan than the one called for above because on my wayward first attempt the rolls didn't fill the pan in that delightful, plumpish way that rolls can.

That was one success. The other came in the form of an unexpected side dish. We eat so much steamed and braised greens--collards, lacinato kale, curly kale, broccoli rabe--that I occasionally get desperate for some other veggie side. I decided on broccoli. In truth, I wanted broccolini (so cute!) but these were $2.00 for the tiniest little bunches. In the end, I chopped up the broccoli and tossed it with a little olive oil, blood orange slices, salt & pepper, and toasted pepitas. I roasted the whole bunch for twenty minutes (or so) in a 400 degree oven. Quite tasty, but if I had it to do again, I'd throw in some thinly sliced shallots.

The half success was my lentil stew. Full disclosure: When it comes to soups and stews, I'm kind of a one trick pony. Those I make are delicious, but all close variations on a fairly predictable theme. The one I made last night would have been better, too, but I got a little overzealous with my prolonged, slow simmering of the lentils and squash, and in the fullness of time, the lentils just couldn't take it anymore. They lost all their integrity and dissolved into mash--proteiny, tasty mash, but mash. All of this wouldn't be quite as disappointing if I hadn't made a shit. ton. of it. I plan to futz with it a bit today and see if I can coax it back to some kind of self-respect. Get them to remember their lentil-hood, or at the very least, not be such a embarrassment. I feel the need to note, though, that the dish was in large part rescued by the presence of a delicious and delightful butternut squash. Even when full cooked, this squash was toothsome (what a weird word, that), sweet, and buttery.


Cael said...

Those little rolls are my fluffy, buttery negation.

Cael said...

Also, I am bummed that you started this blog right AFTER making the pizza pockets. Perhaps they can be made again--this time, with pictures?

I'm just sayin'.