Wednesday, November 26, 2014

This is not Thug Kitchen.

However, I have a roll recipe for your motherfuckers that you are gonna love.

This is what I bring to every holiday gathering, and have brought since forever. It's a soft, white, not-too-sweet, not-too-salty, buttery bread that you can make into loaves, or into rolls, or into a braid. It is incredibly easy, even if you've never made bread before. It's also high in fat, totally devoid of nutritional value, and should therefore be eaten only once or twice a year.

Check it out: you will need. . .

one package of regular yeast, or quick-rise/bread-machine yeast, or a cake of yeast, if you roll that way. (For newbies: these packets come in threes in the US. You will need only one. It's about two US teaspoons of yeast.)

two and one-half cups (590 ml) of lukewarm milk. I use whole milk and zap it in the microwave for a minute, just to get the chill off.

one tablespoon (~15 grams) white sugar

one teaspoon (eyeball it) salt

one stick (half a cup, or 4 ounces, or 120 ml) of unsalted (very important!!) butter, melted and cooled slightly. (Salted butter will make the dough both too salty and make it brown unevenly.)

Mix all that stuff up. It'll make a nasty, semi-lumpy, unpromising mess.

Now stir in, about a cup at a time. . .

six (more or less) cups (~150 grams per cup) of plain white all-porpoise flour (not bread or cake or semolina flour)

. . . until you get a sort of sticky, shreddy dough.

Now dump some flour onto a clean surface. It doesn't matter if it's a bread board or a counter or what, as long as it's clean.

Begin to knead. If you've never kneaded bread before, this is a treat: the dough is such that it's not hard to manipulate, and you'll know when it's done by a foolproof method I'll lay on you in a minute.

To knead, take your lump of unpromising flour-goop in the middle of your floured surface. Grab the top edge and bring it toward you. Using the heels of your hands, shove the top edge gently into the middle of the lump. Give the whole shebang a quarter-turn and repeat.

It's not hard, I promise. The trick is to stretch, rather than tear, and tuck, rather than hammer, the dough. Although you really can't go wrong. Add more flour if you need to; it's really hard to fuck up.

The dough has been kneaded enough when it's smooth, relatively elastic, no longer lumpy, and --here's the secret trick-- no longer sticks to the surface, even without extra flour.

Now. Take that dough, butter it well all over (I soften a lump of butter in my hands) and stick it into a buttered bowl. Cover it with a damp dishtowel and stick it in a warm, out-of-the-way place, like the top of the fridge, and forget about it for an hour or so (less if you're using rapid-rise yeast).

Make a mental note of the volume of the dough when you pop it into the bowl, so you'll know when it's roughly doubled in size. When it's at that point, put it back on to your clean surface and shape it into whatever form you like. I make two-bite rolls, about an ounce to an ounce and a half each, and I think I got three dozen? today.

Once you've shaped your dough, stuff it into whatever container you'll bake it in. Strangely, butter will not work for greasing your baking pan. Use solid vegetable shortening instead, okay? Throw your damp towel back over the container(s) and stick it/them back into that warm place you used earlier.

Nota bene for first-time bakers: give your dough some room. You want it to be able to grow and expand and breathe, so use a pan a smidge bigger, or leave a bit more space than you'd expect between pieces of dough. Crowded dough can't rise properly and will make heavy, unhappy rolls that don't fulfill their potential.

Allow that shit to rise until it's doubled in size again. The beauty of this step is this: if you want to take a long nap, like I did today, you can leave the dough in a relatively-cool place to slow its rising. Hell, you could even stick it in the fridge overnight! The possibilities are endless. You do you.

When the dough is nice and puffy, preheat your oven to 425F/220C/gas mark7. If you're making rolls, they'll bake for about 20 minutes. If you're doing a loaf, you might want to turn the oven down to, say, 400F, and give it forty minutes or so.

The bread/rolls/carbohydrate portrait of Nathan Fillion is/are done when they're that golden brown that you only see on TV commercials about bread, and when it/they smell done. At that point, remove your product from the oven and turn it out onto a cooling rack. This is important. No cooling rack = sad soggy bread and disappointed eaters.

Americans love these. Canadians love these. Indians and Filipinos love these. Mexican-Americans from Laredo practically fucking riot over these rolls, since they're very close, apparently, to something served in the Laredo school system in the 1970's. Italians love these, but only for dessert. Nigerians love them, as do all the Egyptians and Lebanese and Moroccan people I've tried them on. I have yet, in short, to meet a single person who does not like these rolls. Even skinny white girls like them.

Starch: the Universal language of Peace. Do your part for understanding and tolerance today!


bobbie said...

And a happy Thanksgiving to you!!

Stefanie said...

Made garam masala pumpkin tart via the NYT recipe on Thanksgiving by state. Tomorrow will be making apple pie. (crust chilling in the fridge. We will ramble down the block to our neighbors' mid afternoon to give thanks for all blessings that flow. There are certainly more than we can count, if given enough time to contemplate. I'll have to try your bread. Peace to you and yours down in Tejas.

messymimi said...

This is one that, if i make it, my Sweetie will want it all the time. That's okay, i'll try it for Christmas anyway.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Lynda Halliger Otvos (Lynda M O) said...

That recipe sounds easy and fast and fun and most important Delicious. Thanks for sharing. Happy Thanksgiving, Jo.

k8 said...

I learned to make popovers from you, waybackwhen, and they were amazing. Can't wait to try this bread.

Dr. Alice said...

This sounds completely awesome. I'll try it for Christmas.

Anonymous said...

I want to leave work this instant, go to the store, buy yeast, then go home, make this bread, and eat it with a stick of butter. Right this minute! :)