Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Honey Hoagie Rolls with a Twist - Perfect for Thanksgiving

Hoagie rolls for Thanksgiving? So, here's the deal. I was looking for some kind of bread for the holiday that would be great for soaking up the sauces and gravies of a big, festive meal, like Thanksgiving. Something that could double for snack time while watching a big game on TV. Here, in Israel we don't really celebrate Thanksgiving, but there are lots of games on TV. Only its usually soccer or basketball. Still, snack food is a must. And these sandwiches, an adaptation of a few recipes I have used for years fits the bill perfectly. They are soft and strong. Soak up whatever, and hold the fillings! Oh, in case you haven't noticed my 'healthy' trend lately, they are super healthy. I mean, bran and toasted wheat germ for goodness sake! This bread can be shaped as small rolls for a dinner, or larger for a hoagie-type roll, or even a loaf. I have made the hoagie roll. You can probably get about a dozen rolls, or maybe 4 hoagies. Or a loaf. Any way you look at it, though, it's just delicious!

Here's What You'll Need:
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast (dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water)
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup wheat bran (optional)
2 1/2 cups AP flour (or 2 cups AP flour + 1/2 cup whole wheat flour)
2 Tbs. honey (or dark brown sugar)
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbs. softened butter
3/4 cup warm water

Here's What You'll Need to Do:

1. Dissolve the yeast in the 1/4 cup warm water and place aside for about 10 minutes until nice and bubbly.

In the meantime...
2. Place the wheat germ in a dry frying pan and warm while tossing lightly in the pan. After a minute or two you will smell the toasty smell of the wheat germ. Remove from the heat and put aside.

3. In a large bowl, place the flour(s), bran (if using), toasted wheat germ, and salt and stir to combine. Then, add the yeast mixture, along with the softened butter, honey (or sugar), and the warm water.

4. Mix to form a shaggy dough, then knead vigorously to make a soft but very smooth dough. This will take 10 minutes by hand or around 5 minutes in a stand mixer.

5. Place in an oiled bowl to rise, covered, until doubled in volume, about 1 1/2 hours.

6. Being careful not to deflate too much, shape the dough into a loaf. If you are making rolls, then divide the dough into the number of pieces required, then roll them into shape. The rolls will deflate more that the loaf, don't worry.

7. Cover the rolls (or loaf) to rise a second time, this time about 45 minutes.

8. Bake at 350 F (180 C) for: 17 minutes (rolls) or 25-30 minutes (loaf). Brush with melted butter, if desired while still hot, then cool on a rack.
 Bon Appetit!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Bread of a Snacky Kind - Crispy, but Soft Pretzels


I have been considering this for a long time and only just now got up the courage. I know that sounds a little dramatic, and, truthfully, maybe I'm overdoing it a little. Still, here goes. Normally I post a recipe and some small reminiscence of a childhood memory associated with the recipe. Like, the famous Bernie's Bakery in Sydney, NS. This time it's different. I think I have mentioned that I like to snack. In fact, it's a bit of an embarrasment that with all my healthy baking that sometimes I just crave a salty snack. So... how to combine the two? Well, here is my first attempt at pretzels, baked with whole wheat and, of course, lots of kosher salt. Honestly? I will have to make them again, and again. My one comment, aside from the fact that they were delicious, is that you should remember to store them in a paper bag. Otherwise, and this happened to me, they become soft like a roll, instead of staying crispy like a good pretzel.

This recipe uses whole wheat and AP flour in combination to allow for gluten development. Also, and this is what separates a good pretzel from a so-so pretzel, they are boiled in water with baking soda added. Well worth the effort, believe me. Try these and you will never eat store-bought pretzels again.

Here's What You'll Need: (for 8 pretzels)
200g (about 1 3/4 cups) whole wheat flour
230ml (8 ounces) warm water
1 Tbs. butter, softened
180g (about 1 1/2 cups) AP flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. instant yeast
1 tsp. barley malt (or demerara sugar)

Water Bath
2 L (8 cups) water in which is dissolved 2 Tbs. baking soda

1 egg beaten with some water
kosher salt and seeds for topping

Here's What You'll Need To Do:

1. Whole wheat flour needs extra time to absorb the liquid (and it also absorbs more liquid) than AP flour. So, mix the whole wheat flour with the water, then cover it and let it stand for about 20 minutes.

2. Then mix in all the remaining ingredients, and knead vigorously for about 10 minutes. The dough will be smooth and just barely sticky. Place it in a bowl, covered, and let it rest and rise until doubled. This will take at least an hour. Maybe longer. Remember, bread is patience. If you hurry it, you get bad bread.

3. Preheat the oven to 220C (450F), and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

4. Pour the water in a largish pot, and bring to a boil. Add in the baking soda.

5. Divide the dough into 8 equal-sized pieces, then roll out into 'snakes'. Fold the dough into a pretzel form by twisting and folding it over on itself. Then place the pretzel on a tray to rest for about 10 minutes.

6. Finally, gently place each pretzel in the post of boiling water (not a violent boil, but bubbling). Boil the pretzels for about 2-3 minutes, flipping them over halfway through the process. They will swell up appreciably in the water. Then place the boiled pretzels (with a slotted spoon) back on the baking paper.

7. When you have finished with all the pretzels, brush with the egg wash, then sprinkle with kosher salt, and/or seeds if you prefer.

8. Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes, or until they are a deep brown and quite crispy.

Cool on a rack, but they are also delicious served while still warm. Store in a paper bag!!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

'White' & Fluffy Dinner Rolls - With Whole Wheat Flour

As you all must have figured out by now, I am a great fan of the King Arthur Flour website. I collect and try their recipes. I read their reviews. I ask questions on the forums (or is it fora?) And so, imagine my surprise when, a few weeks ago I received mail from Laura, one of their baking experts concerning a question I had posted a long time ago. Truthfully, I had forgotten that I even had posted the question. It went something like this... I would like to bake soft and fluffy dinner rolls using whole wheat flour. I have tried and tried and, while they are always delicious, they also have all the hallmarks of a whole wheat bread: just slightly dense, and just slightly heavy. How can I bake rolls that are light and fluffy with whole wheat flour? The answers went back and forth with all kinds of suggestions. But the best answer, and one that actually worked, is this one. By way of KAF, and adapted from another bread baking blog, these are dinner rolls made from 'white' whole wheat flour. And maybe the best rolls I've ever baked. Thanks again, KAF!

Here's What You'll Need:
 for the Tangzhong (relax, I'll explain)
1/2 cup water
1/6 cup (2 1/2 Tbs) whole wheat flour

Mix the flour and water together into a paste, then heat it slowly in a pot until it starts to thicken, like a roux.  Like vanilla pudding.


2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3 tbsp+2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
All of the tangzhong*
2 tsp instant yeast
3 tbsp butter (cut into small pieces, softened at room temperature)

*Tangzhong - a Chinese method of cooking the flour and water before adding it to recipes for baked goods.

Mix this until combined, then, in a mixer, mix vigorously with a dough hook, for a long time until the dough will pass the window-pane test. My dough took 20 minutes! Finally, place the dough in an oiled bowl, turn to coat, then cover and let it rise for at least 2 hours. It may not double, but will be puffy.

Divide the dough into 10 equal-sized pieces and tighten them into rolls. Cover and let rise a second time, about an hour.

About 20 minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 375F (190C). Bake for 17 minutes or until a deep brown. Cool on a rack. I guarantee these are the best rolls you will ever make. I have already added them to my list of special breads!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Dark Brown and Soft Restaurant Dinner Rolls

I don't get to restaurants very often. Not nearly enough, to tell you the truth. Still, when I do go, I always check out the bread basket. You know the one. The basket of rolls and other home-baked goodies they bring you before the meal. To eat while you wait for your order to arrive. Filled with dinner rolls, made with white flour, or whole wheat or even rye. And with all kinds of decorations, like sesame seeds and so forth. The ones that intrigue me are the rolls that are dark brown in color, with a not too chewy crust, and soft on the inside. And for a while now I have been looking for a recipe to 'duplicate' these rolls. At last I think I have found one... This recipe is adapted from one I found in a new cookbook I have acquired Whole Grain Baking from King Arthur Flour, another in a long line of really informative cookbooks from KAF. These guys really know baking! Their site is great, replete with recipes, forums and even video lessons, you should definitely check them out.

The rolls are soft, and very dark (thanks to the cocoa powder, which, btw, you can barely taste), and very attractive. However like all small breads, these rolls tend to dry quickly, and so should be eaten right away. That is never a problem!

Here's What You'll Need:
1 cup (250 ml) warm water
1/3 cup orange juice
4 Tbs (60g) softened butter or margarine
1/3 cup honey (or other sweetener like silan - date honey)
2 1/4 cups (250g) whole wheat flour
2 1/4 cups (270g) AP flour
1 3/4 tsp salt
3 Tbs (45g) sugar
2 Tbs (30g) cocoa powder
2 1/2 tsp instant yeast

Here's What You'll Need To Do:

Mix together ALL the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, mix thoroughly. If using a mixer, use the dough hook at medium speed for about 7 or 8 minutes.

 If kneading by hand, then knead for longer, like about 12 minutes. The dough should be soft and smooth, and just barely sticky.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl, turn to coat, then cover and let it rise until doubled, about 2 hours.

Remove the dough from the bowl and divide into about 10 equal-sized pieces. Place the rolls on a parchment covered baking sheet and cover to proof again, about 45 minutes.

About 20 minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Bake the rolls for about 15 minutes, until just slightly browned on the bottom. Cool on a rack.