Monday, August 18, 2008

60-Minute Dinner Rolls

There is something so satisfying about making and baking your own bread or rolls. It's not just that the smell permeates your entire house (which is indeed drool-inducing), but the sense of comfort that infuses your soul that's so powerful.

The first time I baked bread I was 11 years old at a 4H Club meeting in Myrna McLean's weathered kitchen along with about 10 other pre-teen girls. Although I spent most of my time there trying to appear cool (which was pretty hard considering I was sporting a fuzzy afro and wore Northern Reflections t-shirts, but whatever), a little part of me was interested in baking and even then, I felt a twinge of awareness that bread-making offered something that I didn't know the name for, but understood, nonetheless.

Fast forward 17 years later, and I can't help but be transported to that warm, lineoleum-floored kitchen when the smell of bread reaches my nostrils. And even more importantly, I can still remember Mrs. McLean's very sage advice:

1. Make sure that all ingredients are at room temperature before you start;
2. After you heat the milk/sugar/butter mixture, make sure that it's not hot, not cold, but LUKEWARM when you add it to the yeast mixture - forgetting or ignoring this step will result in bread that does not rise;
3. Make sure that your dough rises someplace warm. I usually place it on top of my preheated stove (NOT ON THE ELEMENT, THOUGH!) with the dish towel completely covering the top, and make sure that the A/C is off when it's rising, to avoid any unwanted drafts.

The recipe below has been adapted from KitchenAid's Instructions and Recipes booklet (which accompanied my KitchenAid Bowl Lift Stand Mixer). Be advised that if you're planning on making this recipe, and you don't have a KitchenAid mixer (which should always be set to low when mixing dough, by the way), it's best not to use any other brand of electric mixer, unless it specifically states that it can handle bread dough-making, as it will totally burn your motor out.
Instead, you'll have to mix it yourself by hand, and knead it out on a floured surface... just like we did back in 4H in 1991. :)

The ingredients:

Cooling on a wire rack, and making my mouth water:

Sixty-Minute Rolls

1/2 cup low-fat milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsps. salt
3 tbsps. butter or margarine
3 packages of dry active yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water (105F - 115F)
5 - 6 cups all-purpose flour

Directions:
1. In a small saucepan, stir milk, sugar, salt and butter together.
2. Heat over low heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Cool until lukewarm.
3. Dissolve yeast in warm water in warmed mixer bowl.
4. Add lukewarm milk mixture and 4 1/2 cups flour to yeast mixture, and using a dough hook, mix on low speed for about 1 minute.
5. With the mixer still going, add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and mix about 1 1/2 minutes, or until dough starts to clean the sides of the bowl.
6. Knead on low speed for about 2 more minutes, or utnil dough is smooth and elastic - the dough will still be slightly sticky to the touch.
7. Place dough in a greased bowl, turning it to grease the top.
8. Cover the dough with a clean, dry dish towel, and let it rise in a warm place, free from draft, for about 15 minutes.
9. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and divide dough into 24 equal pieces.
10. Form each piece into a ball, and place in a greased muffin pan.
11. Using kitchen shears or a pizza cutter (a knife will also do), cut each ball in half, then in quarters, and replace in the muffin pan.
12. Cover the muffin pan with the dish towel, and let the dough rise in a slightly warm oven (90F) for about 15 minutes.
13. Bake at 425F for 12 minutes, or until rolls are golden brown.
14. Remove from pans immediately, and cool on wire racks.

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