Basic Dinner Rolls – Gone in an instant!

I’ve made these dinner rolls three times this week.  As usual, they disappear in about five minutes.  The recipe is very basic.  You don’t have to make these into rolls.  You can make two big round loaves, use a loaf pan, or shape them into twists.  I like the little rolls.  They’re easy to shape and the right size for kids to grab.

Dinner Rolls:
5-1/2 to 6-1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup melted butter with 1 tsp dried oregano and 1/2 tsp garlic powder for brushing over finished bread (optional)

First, gather and measure out all your ingredients so you know you have everything you need.  Nothing is worse than getting started making bread and then realizing you are out of yeast or you used the last egg for hubby’s breakfast.  Measure half of the flour into the bowl of your stand mixer (or big bowl if you will be mixing and kneading by hand).  Add the yeast, sugar, and salt and mix up a bit.  Set aside.

In a small pot, add the water, milk, and butter and heat until the butter has melted.  It is very important to not heat it too much, or to let it cool down to the correct temperature, before adding this to the flour.  The liquid needs to be at a temperature of between about 86 degrees and 104 degrees.  Too cool and the yeast will not activate; too hot and the yeast will be killed and your bread will never rise.

Put the bowl with the dry ingredients onto the mixer and attach the mixing paddle (not the dough hook).  Set the speed to one and slowly add the liquid.  Let it mix in and then add the egg.  After this incorporates, turn the speed to medium or a bit higher and allow it to mix for about three minutes.  This starts to activate the gluten, that sticky stuff that provides a strong framework for your bread to rise.  After three minutes, turn off the mixer and replace the paddle with the dough hook.  Add a little less than three cups of flour and turn on the LOWEST speed and allow to mix in.

The consistency you are looking for is fairly firm and pulling away from the sides of the bowl.  The dough will be tacky but not very sticky.  This is where a “feel” for the dough is important, and your feel will develop over time.  If the dough is too wet, add flour about 1/2 cup at a time and let it incorporate fully before checking again.  You may not have to add any flour or you may need to add up to a cup.  It depends on how dry the flour is or even if it is a humid day.  The dough will crawl up the dough hook; this is fine.  If you need to stop the machine to scrape it down you can do that.

Let the dough knead in the mixer for five to eight minutes.  If you are kneading by hand, well, you’re my hero and you no doubt have big Popeye biceps.  You’ll need to knead by hand for a full ten minutes.  Once the kneading is done, stop the machine, detach the hook, and bring the bowl to your work table.  Sprinkle the surface with just a bit of flour and scrape out all the dough onto the table.  Knead it for just a couple of minutes to bring it into shape and then place it in a greased bowl to rise for up to an hour (in my warm kitchen today it only took about half that amount of time) Grease the top of the dough as well to keep it from drying and developing a crust (I use a spritz of cooking spray), and cover it with a clean damp towel or a small clean grocery bag.  After it has doubled in bulk, poke your fingers into it to pop out as many bubbles as you can and then put it on the table again and knead into a round.  Cut the round into fourths, and then cut each fourth into eight relatively even pieces (mine are certainly not Martha Stewart perfect, as you can see.  Please don’t tell on me.)

Each piece should be rolled into a ball.  I usually shape mine in my hand and then roll it in my cupped hand on the surface of the table.  A bit hard to describe but you can watch the technique here.  Place on 1/4 size sheet pans, 8 to a pan, and allow to rise again until doubled in bulk.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Carefully, so as not to deflate your lovely dough, place each tray into the oven.  Close the door gently, set a timer for 8 minutes.  After eight minutes, the rolls will not yet be done, but you will need to rotate the pans so they bake evenly.  That means the pans are turned 180 degrees and the pans on the bottom rack go to the top and the top to the bottom.  Then set the timer for six  minutes.  Check after this time to see if they are done.  I like my rolls to be a little darker so I gave mine eight minutes, but ovens can run a bit hot or cold so keep a close eye on them and take them out when they are medium golden brown or a little darker.

Set them on the counter and brush immediately with the melted butter that has the oregano and garlic powder.  You don’t have to do this step but trust me, it is delicious.  Let the rolls cool either on the pans or on a rack and then get out of the way as your family stampedes to get to them.

Bil hana wa shifaa!

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Published in: on November 27, 2011 at 1:07 pm  Comments (2)  
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Foccacia Bread With an Arabic Twist

I just finished making this recipe for foccacia bread:

It was a pretty simple recipe. I didn’t have honey so I used sugar. Instead of using the herbs he suggested, I used zaatar. I also let it rise a second time after I had punched it down and put it in the pan to bake. I heated water in a kettle, put the hot water into a pan in the bottom of the oven, then put the dough in for about half an hour to rise in the warm, moist oven (with the heat OFF). Then I took it out, set the oven to 375, and baked for about 25 minutes.

The bread came out lovely and delicious. The chopped onions in the bread give it a tiny bit of sweetness when you chew. It is soft but toothsome, not a wimpy bread at all but not something you have to rip at like a vulture on a carcass. Here are some pictures of my method:

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bil hana wa shiffa!

Published in: on October 3, 2011 at 2:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Poofy Bread is Happy Bread

I made my pita bread today. It’s called “eish baladi” in Arabic. Eish is a word that really means “life” but since this bread is the staff of life, up to 1/3 of the caloric intake of most poor Egyptians, the slang term is appropriate. I have the recipe over at my other blog, muslimahinprogress, so I won’t post it here. You’re welcome to mosey on over there and take a look:

I made mine today with half all purpose flour and half whole wheat. So funny, I had let the mixer do the first kneading, then took it out and formed it into a ball, popped it into a bowl to rest and rise. I totally forgot about it for about an hour. Fortunately, the weather has been unseasonably cool and I had the window over the sink open for some fresh air, too, so it rose more slowly than it would on a warm day.

I love the smell of the yeasty dough when I uncover it; I love the consistency when I punch it down to let the gases escape; I love finally, finally being able to knead it into a beautiful smooth round ball. Took me forever to learn how to do that. I cut it into four and made balls out of that, then let it rest until it was time to roll it out. Two of the four ovals poofed up nicely in the oven. The other two resisted poofage but will still taste just as good. I let them cool then put them in the freezer. I’m going to save them until tomorrow when I plan to have a traditional Egyptian breakfast of fuul for my husband. InshaAllah I’ll remember to take pictures before everyone eats everything.

Today is a day for leftovers so I don’t have to cook dinner tonight. Tomorrow being Friday we generally buy burgers or pizza so maybe I’ll bake something else in my free time. Or I could make beignets. Oh, those are lovely. I’ll tease you now, heh heh. If I make them, I’ll post the recipe and make sure to take pictures. And then I won’t share them with you, sorry :). Well, not really.