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.