Thursday, August 11, 2011

White Bread Dinner Rolls

I have to admit, baking with yeast always seemed such a daunting task to me. Something about the whole process; not over mixing, procuring the right temperature for the active yeast, and, not to mention, the patience involved in waiting for a first, then second rise, a virtue I've never had much luck with.

However, I was pleasantly surprised when I started making the dough. Man, did it smell GOOD!
I think I must have eaten about half of the bread batter, and you know what?
I regret nothing.

I would never have guessed that unbaked bread could taste so good! The consistency was so foreign to me, not the sticky, light batter that I've become so used to in my sweet usuals. Instead, I was greeted with a much more dense, doughy texture.

 While the process was rather tedious, it wasn't in the least as challenging as I thought it would be. And the outcome? Delicious!

Now, I'm usually not much of a bread person, but the marriage of the freshly baked, browned, slightly-crusted exterior to the warm, moist interior was a carb epiphany.

What light through yonder oven break? 

To make it even better, I decided to pour a little olive oil. That is when I was inspired to add those little black dots of garnish always added in at restaurants. You know which ones I'm talking about? Of course you do.
Black dots!
Only, in cook-talk, those black dots are known as balsamic vinegar. A few words of wisdom, I'd refer to those "black dots" as balsamic vinegar, to avoid the light teasing and laughs from older and wiser relatives. ♡
You learn something new everyday.

This was an undemanding recipe, not including any fancy herbs or add-ins, but the homey, wafting aroma, was rewarding enough in its simplicity. I felt a sudden connection to my late bestemor, or grandma in Norwegian, whilst kneading the dough. Somewhere, in a mess of old photographs and memories, I see her standing next to my young mother, holding two beautiful loaves of freshly baked white bread. The photo does not have a fancy lens, the angle not the best, and the final product not at all up to modern standards, and yet the snapshot holds its own. She passed away when I was very young, and yet, I still can feel her gentleness, benevolence, and kindheartedness radiating in this one brief murmur of time. And now, kneading the thick batter, glancing down at my meandering fingers, I imagine them as her own, preforming the same, repeating motions, and the world seems at peace.
To be making bread from scratch, constructing the dough from ingredients familiar to her, is a humbling experience. 

White Bread Dinner Rolls
 Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

3 ¼- 3 ¾ cup all purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup milk (nonfat is fine)
¼ cup sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine
1 beaten egg
¾ teaspoon salt

Stir together 1 ¼ cup flour and yeast in an electric mixer. In a saucepan, heat and stir milk, sugar, butter, and salt until just warm. Add to the mixture to the flour and yeast and stir in on medium speed. Slowly stir in the remaining flour. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead in more flour to make the dough elastic. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl, allowing it to rise in a warm place for about an hour. Punch the dough down and place on a floured surface. Divide the dough in half and let rest covered for 10 minutes. Shape the dough and let rise for 30 minutes or until doubled in size. Bake in the oven at 375 degrees for 12-18 minutes depending on size on a greased pan or parchment paper.

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