Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Remember When....

Remember when I was a diligent food blogger that actually wrote multiple posts in a month (sometimes in a day when I was really bored)?  Yeah, me neither.  That was a while ago, although my blog history tells me that it was true. 

What happened, you ask?  Well, at the beginning of June I moved back to Nantucket for the summer, to work at a catering company.  And then that kind of took over my life.  I think the last meal I made for myself (other than the occasional egg over easy on a bagel, which, despite being one of my most favorite meals, is not exactly blog-worthy), was that carrot salad that I blogged about in July.  Around that time work weeks stretched from about 40 hours to 50 to 60, into the 70s come August, and here's what suffered in the mean time:  sleep, my social life, any attempts at fitness and exercise, and cooking for myself.  I think the last time I actually went grocery shopping was like...August?  Since then I've consumed most of my meals in bites, primarily of cupcake and frosting, and appetizers when I've been working at cocktail parties.  And grapes.  There were a lot of grapes in the fridge for the past few months, that made many a meal.  Ahh, the glamorous life of a professional cook! 

But all that ended last week, and now I'm back in Cambridge, and job hunting yet again.  (Anyone in the area looking for a private chef?  Seriously, let me know!)  One of the best things about being back in Cambridge is my Sunday night dinner group--it's one of the highlights of my week.  Five of us gather, and we divvy up the meal by hors d'oeuvre, entree, side dish, dessert, and wine.  Occasionally the meal comes out somewhat disjointed, but it's always delicious, and inevitably I end up eating too much.  This past week I decided to make soup and rolls as a nod to the cooler fall temperatures.  A desire to branch out from my normal No Knead Bread sent me into the blogosphere looking for new recipes.  I love dinner rolls and multigrain bread, so I settled on a multigrain dinner roll from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook.  Because I keep a large variety of baking ingredients on hand, I was able to make them, no grocery store trip required, and only one small substitution.  They baked up beautifully, slightly sweet and full of multigrain goodness.  They were most delicious right out of the oven, but they also reheat well for a couple of days, and they also taste great sliced in half and toasted, with butter or jam.  

(I'll add photos next time I make these)

Multigrain Dinner Rolls (From Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook)
Makes 24 Rolls

I substituted wheat germ for the oat bran, and it seemed to work fine, so I've written that option in below.  Flax seeds can be found in the organic/natural foods section of your grocery store.  They are a bit pricey, but you can add them to nearly any (already kind of healthy) baked good--I mean, I wouldn't throw them into chocolate chip cookies, but they can hide in quick breads or muffins.  Also, you can blend them into smoothies.  Keep them in a container in the freezer to prolong their shelf life.

For the dough:  
* ½ cup oat bran OR wheat germ
* ¼ cup flax seeds
* ½ cup boiling water
* 1 cup warm milk (105-110˚ F)
* 1 envelope (2¼ teaspoons) instant (rapid rise) yeast
* ¼ cup honey
* 2 large eggs at room temperature
* cup old-fashioned (not instant) oats
* 7 ounces (1¼ cups) whole wheat flour
* 1 Tablespoon Kosher salt
* 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 15 ounces (about 3 cups) all-purpose flour
* Oil, for greasing the bowl

For the topping:
* 1 large egg yolk
* 1 Tablespoon water
* 2 Tablespoon mixed seeds (poppy, sesame, fennel, etc.)
* Kosher salt, for sprinkling 

1. Combine the oat bran (or wheat germ) and flax seeds in a small bowl.  Pour the boiling water into the bowl and mix to moisten.  Let sit until the water is absorbed, about 5 minutes.  Set aside to cool. 

2. Meanwhile, add the milk, honey, and yeast to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk to combine; let it stand for 5 minutes.  Using the dough hook and with the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, oats, wheat flour, salt, pepper, and oat bran/flax mixture.  Mix until combined.  Slowly add enough all-purpose flour, ½ cup at a time, to make a soft, slightly sticky dough (I needed all 15 ounces of flour).  Continue to knead on medium-low speed, about 3 minutes.  

3. Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1½-2 hours.  

4. Oil three 8-inch OR two 10-inch cake pans (or line the bottoms with parchment and oil the sides).  On a lightly floured surface, turn the dough out and divide into 24 equal pieces, 2 ounces each. (Food scale!  It makes this step so easy!)  Form each portion into a ball (see below for detailed instructions, if this confuses you) and place the dough balls in the baking dishes, spaced slightly apart so they have room to grow together.  If you're using 8-inch pans, put seven dough balls around the edge of the pan and one in the middle.  If you're using 10-inch pans, put nine around the edge and three in the middle.  Cover again with plastic wrap and let rise until puffy and nearly doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes.
5. Preheat the oven to 375˚F.  In a small bowl whisk together the egg yolk and water.  Brush lightly over the rolls, then sprinkle them with the seed mixture and coarse salt.  Bake until the tops are golden, about 26 minutes (and, if you have an instant-read thermometer, the internal temperature is over 200˚F Cool for 10-15 minutes before removing from the rolls from the pan.  Serve immediately or cool completely before storing in a ziplock bag.  For most delicious results, rewarm before serving in a 300˚F oven for about 10 minutes.  Enjoy!

Dividing and Rounding Bread Dough:

If you don't have a food scale (seriously, WHY DON'T YOU HAVE A FOOD SCALE--IT WILL CHANGE YOUR BAKING LIFE!), the easiest way to make 24 equal pieces is to divide your big dough ball into three equal pieces.  Set two of the pieces aside, and halve the remaining piece.  Repeat twice more with each piece, until you have 8 pieces.  Repeat process with the other two pieces.  This way you don't have to figure out what 24  of a big blob of dough looks like.  Watch the first half of this video if you need an visual.

To round the dough, pinch the edges of your dough piece together.  Place the pinched side down on the counter, and cup your hand over the dough.  Roll the rough in one direction using gentle pressure until the ball is nice and round.  (I always roll counterclockwise, but either way works.)   This motion is second nature to me now, and only takes about 10 seconds per ball, but it'll be awkward until you get the hang of it--don't fret.  Your bread will still be delicious even if the rolls aren't perfectly round.  Also, these balls will seem too small, but they're not. 

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