Friday, January 15, 2010

Roll Me Away

My friends think I'm crazy, especially the guys, because sometimes I make my own bread.  I like fresh bread, and the nearest grocery store is over thirty miles from my cabin.  If I get any bread there, it's almost stale by the time I get it home.

I don't mean to get all Cooking Photographer on you (as if, right?), but you should try these yeast rolls.  They're straight out of Joy of Cooking, and they're the easiest bread recipe I've ever made.  The best part is you don't have to do any kneading.

Combine in a small bowl: 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) of active dry yeast and 1/4 cup warm water (105°-115°  The temperature range is important. If the water is too cool, the yeast won't do its thing.  If the water is too hot, it will kill the yeast.  I use a candy thermometer to be sure).  Let stand until the yeast is dissolved, about 5 min.

Combine in a large bowl:
  • 1/2 stick of butter (1/4 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
Pour one cup of hot water over these ingredients and stir until melted/dissolved.  Stir in the yeast.  Beat in 1 large egg.

Here's the only tricky part, which isn't that bad: Stir in and beat until a soft dough forms "about 2 3/4 cups" all purpose flour.  (I never follow recipes exactly, but I like to see exact measurements so I know what I'm not following. The "about 2 3/4 cups" throws me off a little bit).  I've found that 2 3/4 cups is the starting point.  The dough is still too sticky to handle, so I keep adding pinches of flour, while stirring it in.  It's more art than science, but I go by what I call the "hesive" test.  The dough should be more cohesive (sticks together) than adhesive (sticks to everything else, mainly the bowl and your hands).

Put the dough in a large greased bowl and turn it to coat it.  Cover with a clean cloth and put in the refrigerator at least 2 hours, but up to 12.

Here's my favorite part: Punch down the dough.

Divide the dough into pieces and shape into round rolls. Joy says 15, but I use a muffin tin that holds 12.  Either I have twelve large rolls, or I put the extra ones on a cookie sheet.  Let rise until doubled in volume, about 45 minutes.  Bake at 425° until golden, 15 to 18 minutes.

As soon as they come out of the oven, I rub the end of a stick of butter across all the tops.

I told you I wasn't the Cooking Photographer--hers would've been perfectly round and all the same size, and her picture would've looked much more attractive.  But these rolls are really tasty, light and buttery.  They're so good, they'll make you want to slap your mother, which is easier in some families than others. 

Mari really loves when I make these (she cooks everything except bread).  So don't anybody tell her I made them while she was out of town, or she may hit me with a cast iron skillet when she gets back.  You know those fiery redheads.  Enjoy.


  1. Anyone got a skillet? Anyone... Buehler?

  2. Yummy...but you could really use a Food Stylist for your pictures! Anyone....Buehler?

    Just kidding!!! I love it that you cook...guess that's the alternative to starving, right? I'll cook a lot of things, but bread scares me the most. Yeast and water that's not to hot or not too cold...too many iffy instructions for me. I like open the package and bake.

    Keep the recipes never know what will appear next on the blog!!

  3. I love the food stylist bit!

    There's a limited amount of stuff to blog about up here in the winter, especially since I don't ski. I expect y'all are tired of hearing about the frozen river and whether it snowed again or not. I'll try to keep the recipes to a minimum, but sometimes they're the best I can come up with.

  4. I'm just yanking your chin whiskers! I love to hear about it all...the snow, the river and your recipes. Keep it up! You've made me so hungry for bread, I might just try them.

  5. we enjoy reading just about anything you blog about, esp the 'simpler' things like cooking. what am i going to blog about here at work that beats what you write? hmmm...sitting at work...talking to an idiot at work...still sitting at work...talking to another moron at work on the phone...going to pee...talking to the idiot in the john...if you see something more interesting than your cooking let me know. i could brag on my kids but then i would never stop!

  6. It is a surprise to see a recipe on your blog -- what hidden talents come out when you live in the wilds -- and all I can say is: Go, Cliff!

  7. Thanks to all for the kind words. Okay, I'll just keep posting about whatever weird stuff occurs to me from time to time.