Heavenly Rolls

I love Chef John from foodwishes.com.  He makes fussy recipes seem easy; he’s got a laid-back demeanor and he just sounds like a wonderful guy.  Watching his videos is spirit-boosting; he comes across like someone who, if you were sharing a kitchen with him, would make you feel competent and confident; he never gives me the impression that he could be condescending or harsh.

I found a recipe for King Arthur Flour pull-apart rolls just before Christmas, and I thought that I’d put together a batch for our feast.  The day before the holiday, I remembered that I’d seen Chef John post a video for a similar recipe earlier in the month, so I went back through his archives and found it.

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I compared the recipes and decided that I liked Chef John’s better, so I busted out the KitchenAid and got to it.  It was stupid-easy and the results were sublime.  I doctored the recipe a bit, which is another thing I love about Chef John; he’s perfectly okay with your mucking about with his recipes; if you don’t like something, sub it out for something you do like.  It’s okay; it’s all good.

Here’s how I worked the recipe on Christmas – and again this afternoon, though today I’m making loaves instead of rolls.  I can’t recommend this recipe enough; it really is delightful.

Start with 2 and a quarter teaspoons of active dry yeast in the bowl of your KitchenAid fitted with the dough hook.  To that, add a quarter cup of warm water and let that sit while you melt a half a stick of butter in a cup of milk (Chef John does this in a little saucepan; I do it in a Pyrex measure in the microwave).  Pour the resultant slurry into the yeast, squeeze in a tablespoon or so of honey (or of sugar; your choice, and how much you put in is entirely up to you), a good teaspoon of salt (I just grab a big pinch), and – here’s where *I* think the magic happens – a good, heaping blop of roasted garlic paste.  I shake in some dried oregano, then scoop out two cups of flour and turn the machine on low.

Once that gets going, start adding flour, a little bit at a time, until the dough started to pull away from the sides of the bowl.  From there, let the machine spin for another 5 minutes or so (that’s the stupid-easy part; there’s literally no hands-on work to this recipe).  Once that’s done, free your dough hook and hold the ball out while you drop a little olive oil into the bowl, then swish the dough around in the oil until it’s well-coated.  Cover the bowl in plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm spot for an hour or so or until it’s doubled in size.

From there, turn the dough onto a board (DON’T flour it; you won’t be working the dough very much and the oil from the rising should be sufficient to keep it from sticking to everything) and shape it as you will.  I made little pull-apart balls for Christmas, but this afternoon’s treatment involved my patting it out into a rectangle, spreading a little more garlic paste onto the top, and jelly-rolling it into a loaf that went onto a silpat-lined cookie sheet.  Paint the bread with an egg beaten with a little bit of water and sprinkle of something – sea salt, garlic salt, parmesan cheese, herbs; whatever makes you happy.  Back into the warm spot it goes for another half hour or so, or until it re-rises.

Take the bread out of your oven if you’re using it as a proofing box, and then crank it up to 375°.  Park the bread in the oven and figure out how long it’ll need to cook; little rolls get about 20 minutes; a larger loaf may need twice that (I test by temperature; pop the bread out of the oven and stick a thermometer in its underbelly; if you’ve got 200°, you’re in business).

Really; Enjoy!

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