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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Home Made Cinnamon Rolls – Rich and Decadent

Is this sweet enough for ya?

Okay, someone asked for my cinnamon roll recipe. Now, I used to work for a country style fried chicken restaurant called Grandy’s back in the day. I learned how to make the world’s BEST dinner rolls and cinnamon rolls under the tutelage of a Hawaiian lady named Lelani. She was a tough customer, let me tell you! The only way was the right way. I got over being intimidated by baking really fast. I used to make rolls and cinnamon rolls for up to 400 customers a day. You get big Popeye biceps doing that! Here’s how I made the ones I made yesterday that are causing a stir on my Facebook page :).

I should warn you that I use my KitchenAid mixer to do the mixing and folding of the dough except right at the end. You can do this all by hand but it will be more work.

Basic Sweet Dough

3-1/2 to 4 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs

In a small pot, heat the milk and the butter. Remove from heat and cool until it is warm enough for you to put your finger in for ten seconds without burning, between about 86 and 103 degrees for you technical types. It is VITAL not to use the milk while it is too hot, or you will kill the yeast and your dough will not rise. While the milk and butter are cooling, in the bowl of your mixer combine the 1-1/2 cups of the flour, all the yeast, and the sugar and the salt. Attach the mixing paddle. Turn the speed to one and slowly add the milk and butter mixture, then add two whole eggs. Mix to combine and then raise to medium speed and allow to mix for about three minutes. This starts activating the gluten in the flour so you’ll get a nice texture. Okay turn off the mixer and then change from the mixing paddle to the dough hook. Add two cups of flour and start the mixer on LOW speed unless you want to have flour in your face, eyes, and up your nose. Allow it to work in and see if the dough starts coming away from the sides of the bowl and creeping up the dough hook. If it is too sticky, add more flour about a 1/4 cup at a time. The dough should be slightly tacky but not too sticky. It is more towards a firm dough than a loose dough. When it looks good, allow it to mix in the mixer for about ten minutes. This saves you from having to knead it by hand. Go have a latte or something….

Okay, turn off the mixer, remove the dough from the hook, scrape all the dough out onto a lightly floured counter, and knead for just a few minutes to bring it together into a nice ball. Place in a greased bowl, grease the top and sides of the dough ball nicely, and allow to rise undisturbed in a warm place for probably at least an hour. This is not a super-fast rising dough and you do want to give it time to work. It should be doubled in size when it is ready.

Punch it down and plop it out onto a floured surface. Flatten it as best you can with your hands and then grab the rolling pin and be ready for battle! You will need to roll this out to about a 12×12 square or 14×12 or so. I actually didn’t measure but just went with what looked right. The dough will want to spring back so you’ll have to put some muscle into it.

For the next step, melt a stick of butter, and get out cinnamon and sugar and raisins (if you like raisins; if not, just omit. Also, you can toss in ground walnuts or pecans also). Using about 3/4ths of the melted butter, pour it on the dough and then lightly spread it with your fingers so the entire face of the dough is covered. Sprinkle liberally with cinnamon, sugar, and nuts; toss raisins on. Then you start to fold the dough away from you until it is rolled up. Now, my mom used to make something called a tea ring, which means she did up to this point, then made a circle of the dough, tucked it in on the ends, then snipped about 3/4ths of the way through all around the ring, laying over the pieces like flower petals. You can do that, or do like I did and cut out 12 cinnamon rolls. Place on a 1/4 sheet pan. Brush with some of the leftover melted butter. I boiled a kettle of water and then poured the hot water into a deep pan and put it on the bottom shelf of the oven (turned OFF), then put the rolls in this steamy environment to proof until they are doubled in size. Take them out – gently so as not to bump and deflate them! – then take out the water pan and heat the oven to 350 degrees. When it is at the proper temperature, put in the rolls and bake for about 15 minutes (check at 13 to see if they are done in case your oven runs a bit hot). Bake until light brown on top and then remove from the oven. Allow to cool for about fifteen minutes. I used store-bought (gasp!) cream cheese frosting on mine because I happened to have it in the cupboard but you can make your own or make a simple powdered sugar glaze. Frost or glaze the rolls, then step out of the way because your family WILL trample you on the way to get them.

Bil hana wa shifaa!

Published in: on September 28, 2011 at 9:57 am  Comments (2)  
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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.