Friday, December 5, 2008

Honey Yeast Rolls

Every week (yes, even last week, with all of the Thanksgiving hooplah), I sit down to my computer and begin research to answer one question: what bread will I be eating this week? You see, I stopped buying bread a few months back, for a number of reasons. I enjoy making bread and love the smell of yeast and bread rising. It's wonderfully therapeutic to hand knead dough and watch it turn into something cohesive in my hands. The entire process is so measured, there are no times when an "oops" completely ruins my batch of dough. Yes, I might have to put in a bit more flour because I added too much water, but that's fixable. Not many baked goods are as forgiving as a nice yeasted loaf of bread. Also, I tried some storebought bread a few weeks back at the boyfriend's, and excuse me, but YEECCHHH. No flavor, no spring, it's a pale imitation of what good homemade bread tastes like.

I also get to try out different types of bread each week, so I never get tired of one flavor, shape, or texture. If I feel rushed, I'll make my great grandmother's white bread. If I feel indulgent, challah it is. And if I want a project, I'll make something requiring my sourdough starter and an overnight fermentation. But some days, I just want rolls. Little balls of slightly sweet dough, perfectly portioned to go with the soup that I seem to be eating for lunch and dinner every day now that it's getting colder here.

So that's what I made - a honey yeast dough, divided up into 15 little dough balls that rose like the devil was after them. Brushed with thinned-down honey and baked until golden, they cooled and were stashed away in the fridge for my daily carb quota. Right out of the fridge, with a smear of sweet butter, it was a perfect breakfast. They were even better split in half and reheated in the oven, dipped in soups and stews. In the interest of decadence, I took a few of the dough balls and placed a dollop of raspberry jam in the middle, sealing it in carefully before baking. Those were the perfect on-the-go breakfast, slightly sweet with a tart raspberry *pop* in the middle.

They're gone now, so I guess the new question is - what bread is next?

Honey Yeast Rolls (adapted from ...a cookie a day)

4 cups bread flour (Start with 3 if you are hand kneading)
1 cup warm water (105° to 115°F)
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 package active dry yeast (1/4-ounce)
Vegetable cooking spray

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the honey, egg and oil. Add roughly 3 cups of the flour and the salt until the dough comes together in a sticky mass. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, working in the remaining flour as necessary to keep the dough from being too sticky, until the dough is smooth and elastic, 8 minutes. Do not be tempted to add too much flour. The dough should stay soft and will become less sticky with kneading. I used closer to 3.5 cups than four and had a dough that still slightly clung to my fingers when shaping.

Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in bulk, about 2 hours.

Punch dough down, and divide into 12-18 equal portions. Shape each portion into a ball, and place in a baking pan coated with cooking spray. I wouldn't suggest trying to fit all of them into an 8" round cake pan, but two pans would probably work. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 20 minutes. Uncover and bake at 400° for 13 minutes or until browned. For a shinier crust, you can brush them with some honey partway through, but if humidity is high I wouldn't recommend it. Honey is so hygroscopic it gets a bit tacky on top of the rolls. Remove rolls from pans, and serve warm or at room temperature.


The Food Librarian said...

Yummy! I'm impressed with your weekly bread baking. That is awesome and delicious.

Cristine said...

Nothing beats homemade bread! Those rolls look fantastic!

Kristin said...

Oh wow those look so good! I want to start baking bread at home too. Your roll recipe might be just the place to start! Thanks for sharing.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

;) all the way to seeing yeast and dough as so forgiving! It really is. Store bread should be called something else because it's really not bread.

These are wonderful rolls and fabulous more than one way. Marvelous what happens when we relax with dough.

rainbowbrown said...

*nod nod nod*

Ever made semolina bread? Either sourdough or commercial-yeasted, both are incredibly good. I've got a sourdough one fermenting right now. Just an idea.

Di said...

Yum. I love the idea of raspberry inside. I've been baking a lot of rolls lately, too. Brianna likes them in her lunch, and I'd much rather feed her homemade bread.

Snooky doodle said...

hmmm I can smell the freshly baked bread. Ups I was dreaming just looking at these :)

AmyRuth said...

Umm wish I could smell those. They look so warm and ymmy. How come you don't weigh a ton?

Jules Someone said...

Those look delicious. I make challah every two weeks. I need to start experimenting with other things. Inspiring.

Amanda said...

Oh I am a bread lover too so I can't wait to try this! Bookmarking now :) Hope to see you join the Cooking with Alicia & Annie blog event this month!

n.o.e said...

Caitlin, you've totally inspired me. Well, you and the kugelhopf! I'm excited to start experimenting with yeast in the new year. I've got a few yeast baking books on my Christmas list.

MacDuff said...

Honestly, part of me gets really upset whenever I look at your blog. Because I, a yeastaphobic, cannot make perfect little rolls. Just the thought of baking bread makes me think "Well, the birds need something to choke on now that it's cold again." But then, part of me reads your blog and finds inspiration. Finds the will to really start baking bread seriously, to find that yeasty bliss you communicate so poetically.

Then I just go back to my TiVo queue and the beer.

Baking Soda said...

Love the raspberry pop! The small ones look so cute. Great job!

Jude said...

Bread looks extra delicious in fluted molds like those
for some reason. I think I know what's going to be on the dinner table tonight.

Amanda said...

These look delicious! I love baking bread but have cut down since moving to Italy, where I can get it daily, fresh, cheap and amazing in taste. These will get me back into bread baking!