Friday, November 16, 2007

Ever wondered how to cut an epi?

baked epi
Just in time to impress your friends and family with a lovely epi, or sheaf of wheat, loaf at a holiday dinner, I posted a step-by-step lesson in how to cut an epi. It is actually simple once you have seen it done and it offers a less common alternative to the dinner rolls we have been baking here this month.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Kevin: Holiday Rolls - Yeast Beer Rolls Recipe

No one in my family is a big bread eater. I probably eat far more bread than anyone else and that's mostly in the form of sandwiches (which I love — shut-up Beth). But the holidays seem to call for bread and, in particular, those soft dinner rolls your mother used to buy and finish baking.

I've made these slightly sweet, tender, and buttery rolls in the past. Unfortunately I had no idea what recipe I've used in the past, so I decided to use Rose Berenbaum's recipe from The Bread Bible. Rose let me down. Alternatively, I screwed up. At any rate, the dough was so soft I couldn't get any loft, it simply spread out like a pancake. The rolls tasted fine, but looked terrible. Not something I wanted on a holiday table.

Click to enlarge

Because I had other commitments I didn't have time to experiment, so I decided to fall back on a recipe I developed a couple of years ago. I knew these would look great and taste great — and besides, I hadn't made them in a while. Besides, they make great little turkey sandwiches.

I was trying to make a beer bread. I thought whole wheat would play well with the beer, but I didn't really want a whole wheat bread. I wanted the flavor as an ingredient. Besides it's sometimes tricky to get a good rise out of whole wheat (the fragments of bran tend to cut the gluten strands) and I certainly didn't want to repeat the pancake experience. I added honey because beer and whole wheat tend to be a somewhat bitter and I chose a dark porter to get a strong beer flavor.

Whole Wheat Beer Rolls
Makes 16 rolls.

Ingredient US Volume Metric Volume US Weight Metric Weight
instant yeast 1 1/2 tsp 7 ml -- --
honey 2 tbsp 30 ml -- --
porter beer warm, flat 1 1/2 c 255 ml 12 oz 337 g
bread flour 1 1/2 c 350 ml 7 1/2 oz 220 g
whole wheat flour 2 1/4 c 530 ml 11 oz 330 g
butter melted and cooled 1 1/2 tbsp 22.5 ml -- --
salt 2 tsp 10 ml -- --
egg 1 each
water 1 tbsp 15 ml -- --

Using the paddle attachment on a stand mixer, combine 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) yeast and bread flour. Whisk the honey into the beer, then, with the motor running on low, add the beer. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 1 hour. This is called a poolish.

Click to enlarge

Combine 2 cups whole wheat flour and remaining 1 teaspoon of yeast. Sprinkle flour over over poolish, sprinkle salt over flour, and recover bowl with plastic. Allow to ferment for 4 hours. The poolish will break through the flour cover — not a problem.

Using the dough hook. Mix together the flour into the poolish then add melted butter.
Knead for four minutes at medium speed. The dough should be slightly sticky but should clear the bowl. Add additional flour if needed and knead for another 2 - 3 minutes. Dump dough onto a floured board and knead another minute or two until dough is fairly smooth and resilient. Allow to rest 5 to 10 minutes.

Clean and dry mixing bowl and spray with a nonstick spray. Shape dough into a ball and place seam-side down in bowl. Spritz top lightly with cooking spray and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in bulk — 60 to 90 minutes.

Punch down dough and turn out onto floured board. Lightly knead dough and form into a flattened ball. Allow to rest 10 minutes.

Using a dough scraper cut dough in four equal quarters. Set three quarters aside and cover. Shape remaining quarter into a flattened ball and divide into four quarters. Shape each quarter into a ball and place on a parchment-covered baking sheet. Repeat for remaining dough, cover, and allow to rise until rolls double in bulk.

Heat oven to 400F/205C.

In small bowl, beat together egg and water. Brush rolls with egg mixture and bake on middle oven rack for about 25 minutes. Watch closely to avoid overcooking.

Cool on a wire rack.


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