Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Another Gourmet Roll

I bridged that gap again, the one between all things domestically intimidating and all things inherently, clumsily me. I successfully employed this living yeast from our fridge to make a yummy, wheaty, and hearty bun. This living organism once again rose to the challenge of foaming and momentously gained that smell of beer even in its chilled and slightly dank abode, and despite my homely fears. These rolls are perfect accompaniments to vegetable tomato based soups, and we're going to make some egg sandwiches for lunch with them. And not only that, they're really fun! Tying knots with bread is revolutionary! It's mischievous! It's almost something you are afraid your grandma will refuse to condone, heaven forbid she catch you in the making!

To achieve the shape of these rolls, you first roll the dough out to about twelve inches in length. You then simply start the knot tying process like you would your sneakers, leaving space in the middle to continue the snake-like bread through that hole. They are satisfying and abundant, making about 24 rolls, just enough to please your those in the office that can't take one more calorie in cupcake form.

There are two parts of these rolls that were devilishly pleasing to me. There is a flaky salt that you twinkle over the tops of the egg washed knots, and there is whole medium bulgur mixed into the bun batter. On an afternoon adventure last weekend, Josh and I ran over to a local Mediterranean shop just because. We found olives, french feta, cream cheese filled baklava, and lo and behold, four different grades of bulgur! I want to know what you do with all these different grades, but most importantly I do know what to do with the medium (grade 2) grain. We soaked the grain in water, drained the water, and it became part of the mix. It's nice to have whole grains in your bread, you know? Just feels like you're doing something good for yourself. Anyway, enjoy this recipe. It's attainable, fun, and great to be able to share with those around you. From Gourmet's February edition...

Cracked-Wheat Topknots

1 1/2 cups boiling hot water
1/2 cup medium bulgur (also called cracked wheat)
1 TB table salt, divided
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast, a 1/4 oz package
1/4 cup warm water (105-115 degrees F)
1 TB mild honey or sugar
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
3 cups all purpose flour plus more for kneading and dusting
1 large egg white beaten with 1 TB water for egg wash
1 1/2 TB flaky sea salt (Maldon)

Stir together boiling-hot water, bulgur, and 1/2 tsp table salt in a small bowl and let stand until bulgur is tender, about 40 minutes.

While bulgur soaks, heat milk with butter in a small saucepan over low heat just until butter is melted.

Stir together yeast, warm water, and honey in a large bowl and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Start with new yeast if mixture doesn't foam. Add flours and remaining 2 1/2 tsp table salt to yeast mixture.

Drain bulgur in a sieve, then mix bulgur and milk mixture into flour mixture with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until a sticky dough forms.

Turn out dough onto a well-floured surface and knead, dusting surface and your hands with just enough flour to keep dough from sticking, until dough is elastic and almost smooth, 6 to 8 minutes. Form dough into a ball.

Put dough in an oiled large bowl and turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 2- 2 1/2 hours.

Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Punch down dough (do not knead), then halve. Cut half of dough into 12 equal pieces (keep remaining half covered with plastic wrap). Roll each piece into a 12-inch-long rope with floured hands (flour surface only if dough is sticky). Make a loop with each rope, wrapping it around fingers of one hand, then knot dough twice through loop, leaving one end in center on top and tucking bottom end under. Transfer to a baking sheet, arranging rolls two inches apart.

Make more rolls with remaining dough, transferring to second sheet. Cover rolls with a kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 with racks in upper and lower thirds.

Brush rolls with egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake rolls, switching position of sheets halfway through, until golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes total. Transfer rolls to a rack to cool at least 20 minutes.

For using leftover bulgur, gourmet suggests going here.


Sarah said...


Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you are taking on bread making, and writing about it. I've been wanting to try my hand at bread making for a while and keep putting it off. (I find yeast very intimidating.) Reading about your bread making adventures is just the motivation I need. I also read an article on NPR called Conquering a Baker's Fear of Yeast that was encouraging. So, this coming Sunday I am giving it a try. No more putting it off. I'll let you know how it goes :) Hope all is well and please give Josh my love. Love - Jillian