Friday, August 5, 2011

Calm Before the Storm: A Moment Back in the Kitchen

Ahh, the relaxation of baking.  I didn't realize how much I've missed it.

Princess Bossy, Prince Helium, and an out-of-state friend arrived Wednesday in anticipation of Monday's wedding.  I expected a whirlwind of non-stop activity, as the bride pulled out her lists and schedules and we hit the ground running for the goal.  But instead, Princess Bossy is enjoying catching up with the friend she hasn't seen in a few months, and also catching up on cuddles with the Prince.  They were all easily talked into an afternoon of sightseeing on the Olympic Peninsula by Hubby, so went off to enjoy the beautiful, summer afternoon.

I stayed home with the younger kids, and enjoyed calmly working on the menu I'd planned for dinner.  I needed to braise some chicken breast to accompany the fantastic salad Princess Artiste is so good at making.  It has Romaine lettuce, cucumber, onion, tomato, feta cheese, dried cranberries (Craisins), a bit of shredded carrot, and chopped walnuts.  Princess Bossy suggested we toss in some of the nasturtiums blooming in my garden.  I haven't tried that before, so it'll be a new experience for the rest of the family.

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking
Artisan Bread
in Five Minutes a Day
To go with the salad, I decided to stir up some rolls I hadn't made in a long time.  They are crusty, German-style Brotchen, I discovered on  They utilize the Master Recipe from the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day cookbook.  

The authors made a couple changes to that basic recipe...enriching the dough with egg whites, and, also, washing the small rolls with it after they are formed to help harden the crust... and I made one more.  I replaced 3 cups of the white, all-purpose flour with fresh, whole (hard white) wheat flour, and 1/4 cup with vital wheat gluten.  Here is the recipe I made:                                                                                                        
Brotchen: German-Style Rolls
adapted from Recipes on

After placing 
3 egg whites
in the bottom of a quart measuring pitcher, I added enough
warm water 
to bring it to 3 cups.
Cambro RFS6PPSW2190 6-Quart Round Food-Storage Container with Lid, Set of 2
Cambro 6 quart bucket

I poured that into my Cambro 6 quart bucket and added
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
3 cups freshly milled, whole-wheat flour (from hard white wheat)
1 Tablespoon Kosher salt

Danish Dough Whisk Size Large
Danish dough whisk
I stirred all with my Danish dough whisk, covered the bucket (not quite sealing the lid), and let it rest on the counter for approximately three hours, before putting it in the refrigerator to chill for another couple of hours, for easier handling when forming the rolls with the comparatively wet dough.  

As instructed for all the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day recipes, I preheated the oven to 450 degrees with the pizza/baking stone centered, and an empty roasting pan on the shelf underneath, and meanwhile, I shaped the rolls.  

Using flour to keep the dough from sticking to my hands, I divided the dough into 20 pieces, and pulled the sides around of each to form oval rolls, about the size of small peaches.   
I placed 10 each on 2 pieces of parchment paper previously used for baking pizzas.  I knew, that way, that they'd slide nicely onto the pizza peel, and then fit just right on the stone.

I let them rest for 30 minutes before brushing them with egg white.  I used my sharpest serrated knife to quickly cut a slit in the top of each roll, then sprinkled some with sesame seeds, some with coarse salt, and left some plain.

Using the pizza peel, I slipped one batch onto the baking stone, and poured 1 cup hot water into the roasting pan below.  

The instructions said to bake them for 25 minutes, but I found that in my oven, 15 to 20 was enough.  Maybe the rolls were meant to be harder and browner on the outside with the longer baking time, but I didn't want them to be impossible to eat.  I repeated the process with the 2nd batch, and cooled all on a rack.

They aren't as rustic looking as those on the website.  Maybe the dough was wetter or softer, so that center cut smoothed out and the rolls weren't so craggy.
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