Sunday, July 4, 2010

A recent discovery - Great Cooks Blogroll

Hello again it's been a few days since my latest post and, as usual things have been quite hectic. Lot's of new discoveries and additions to the blog! Also a few new developments on the personal level, all leading me inexorably away from my day job (ending Sept. 30) and towards my new profession - baking bread. First the new discovery - Great Cooks Blogroll. This is a website providing code that places a new widget on my home page that is really fantastic. This new widget gathers together links to lots of the very best and most popular food related blogs all in one place. The best part is that you can scroll through the list of blogs and on the spot choose which one/s you want to visit all in one place. This is a great advantage for you,, my readers and I sincerely hope you all enjoy the new feature. You can find it easily in the upper right-hand corner of the home page. BTW, if any of you have your own food-related blogs let me strongly recommend it to you. You can easily get the widget at: Pay them a visit, you won't be sorry!

Another development happened yesterday. I had been asked to bake a few rolls for a gathering and I made about 3 dozen personal sweet rolls. I was feeling adventurous and so not only did I add a few raisins to the base recipe, I also brushed a light sugar syrup over the tops when they first came out of the oven. Yum! The rolls were so successful, that afterwards I was approached by one of attendees, a woman I know who is a local caterer, and a tremendous cook in her own right, about the possibility of perhaps working together in her catering business. All I can say is it really made my day - I mean I'm just getting started and here I'm being 'courted' for a catering job. How cool is that? If you want to make the sweet rolls yourself, here is the recipe.

for about 12 rolls
For the dough:
1 1/3 cups warm water
1 tbs. active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar for the dough
about 4 cups all purpose flour
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup raisins

For the syrup:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

For the glaze:
1 large egg mixed lightly beaten with a little water to brush over

1. Dissolve the sugar in the water then the yeast in a large bowl. Let the mixture stand on the counter for about 10 minutes to activate the yeast. It will be bubbly and frothy and smell 'yeasty'.
2. Add 1 cup of the flour and combine to make a smooth batter. Then add the egg, oil and salt. Finally, add the rest of the flour, one cup at a time until you have a smooth dough that is not too sticky. Be careful not to make the dough too dry by adding too much flour. The dough should still be a little tacky.
3. Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until the texture is silky smooth.
4. Place the kneaded dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat, then cover and let it rise for about 1 1/2 hours or until it about doubles in size.
5. Remove the dough from the bowl to a lightly floured surface, then gently squeeze to remove the gas. Roll it out, or simply spread it with your fingers to form a rough rectangle about 1 inch thick.
6. Sprinkle about 1/2 cup raisins over the surface of the dough. Then roll it up, jelly-roll style. Finally, knead the dough again for a few minutes to evenly spread the raisins throughout the dough.
7. Shape the dough into a 'log', and cut it into three roughly equal pieces. Cut each third into four pieces so that in the end you have 12 pieces of roughly equal size.
8. These pieces can be rolled up into small round rolls, or rolled into a 'snake' and then knotted. Whatever you decide I promise you they will be delicious. Place the shaped rolls on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or lightly oiled. Cover and let them rise again, this time for about 45 minutes.
9. About 15 minutes before the rise is finished pre-heat the oven to 350F (180C).
10. Brush the egg wash over the rolls, then sprinkle with a little sesame seed just before placing in the oven. Bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown. (The house will smell incredible just about now!!!).
11. While the rolls are baking, heat the water and the sugar for the syrup in a small saucepan just until it boils and all the sugar is dissolved. You may have to stir a bit. Then let it cool just a bit.
12. When you remove the rolls form the oven, brush the sugar syrup over them while they are still hot. The syrup will sizzle, and then soak into the rolls making them pretty much heavenly. Bon Appetit!

BTW, I'm in the middle of a two day project, as I write these lines, I have biga at home, slowly fermenting. Later on, hopefully, it will become an awesome ciabatta! Stay posted to find out how it came out.

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