Sometimes I’d love to skip dinner.
It’s beautiful in the evening just before the sun has set and I want to be on the patio enjoying the cool, dry air, watching the light against the the trees and houses change as the sun disappears into the Pacific. I don’t want to waste one second of daylight at this time of year when the days are longest and sometimes, the temperature barely fluctuates between day and night.
Like right now. It’s nearly seven and the sun isn’t quite ready to set. Dinner is ready to prepare and won’t take all that long, but I’d rather be sitting in one of the chairs outside doing not much of anything.
All I’d need to complete the picture is some soft cheese — like burrata, perhaps some proscuitto, a handful of the sweet little sungold tomatoes my plant loves to produce, a nice crisp white wine, and good crusty rolls with a bit of something else added — like spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes.
If you’ve tried any of the recipes in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, then you know they’ll be good. But do you know the secret to make them even more crusty?
I do. And it works every single time.
Crusty Spinach Feta and Sun-dried Tomato Bread Rolls
1 c. fresh steamed spinach, chopped (see notes)
1 c. sun-dried tomatoes, julienned
3 egg whites
3 c. lukewarm water
1-1/2 T dry yeast
1 T kosher salt
2/3 c. feta, crumbled
1-1/2 T sugar
6-1/2 c. all-purpose flour
Cornmeal to sprinkle
- Prepare the spinach first by steaming over simmering water until wilted. Remove and when cool to the touch, squeeze in a fist or wring in cheesecloth to remove as much water as possible. Set aside.
- Make the dough by mixing the yeast, salt, spinach, feta, tomatoes, and sugar in a large container.
- ***Add the egg whites to a large measuring cup, then measure the 3 cups of water to include the egg whites. Combine with the spinach mixture.
- Add the flour and mix with a wooden spoon only until all ingredients are moist.
- Do not knead!
- Cover the container lightly and rest at room temperature for 2 hours.
- If you don’t plan to use the dough immediately, you can place it in the fridge, lightly covered until ready for use, up to 7 days.
- To use immediately, sprinkle flour over the surface of the dough and pull off a baseball-sized piece. The dough will be wet and soft, so sprinkling with a bit more flour may be necessary. Shape into an even round. Repeat until the dough is gone.
- Allow each ball of dough to rest on a baking tray covered with parchment and lightly sprinkled with cornmeal for 1 hour.
- Allow each ball of dough to rest for 1 hour on a baking tray covered with parchment that has been lightly sprinkled with cornmeal.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F about 30 minutes into the resting period and place a tray for water into the oven on a rack at the lowest setting.
- After the resting period, sprinkle the dough balls with flour and cut an “X” in the top of each with a pair of scissors by pinching into the dough.
- Prepare a cup of very hot water.
- Slide the baking tray into the oven and carefully pour the hot water into the tray set there earlier to create steam and quickly close the oven door.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the rolls are a rich golden brown and have firm, crusty tops.
- Cool on a baking rack before serving.
- ***I had to edit this post because I omitted the inclusion of the egg whites. Apologies! My server went down while I was writing, and evidently I left that important step out. Thanks to Ailouron for noticing. Much appreciated!
- This recipe was adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. The fabulous idea for using the egg whites in the water for the dough is theirs and can be found in this adaptation of their master dough recipe. We’ve made it many times for holiday dinners and it’s truly the best recipe for rolls we’ve tried. The only change I made for my adaptation above is to avoid brushing egg whites on the dough balls since flour is dusted over them before baking.
- One batch of dough should make about 10 good sized rolls and 1 small boule depending on what you’re interested in.
- I had quite a bit of spinach on hand one day and wondered whether there was such a thing as spinach bread, referred to “AB in 5” and lo and behold there it was. I should have realized it wasn’t all that unusual.
- I had the julienned sun-dried tomatoes on hand so added them to the other ingredients and wanted to add chopped kalamata olives but sadly, didn’t have any. The brand of sun-dried tomatoes I use comes in small bags, they’re pre-cut and quite soft — not the leathery ones sometimes sold in bulk.
- Make sure you steam enough spinach to make a fully squeezed 1 cup — at least 1 lb. of fresh spinach. It’s better to err on the size of steaming more than you think you’ll need because you can always save the excess for another use.
- If you’ve never made AB in 5 dough before, it can seem quite different from making bread in a traditional way, but it’s easy to do. In fact, my husband enjoys making bread using their method, and he’s not a baker — let alone a bread maker. Make sure your hands are a bit wet before grabbing the dough from the container. That keeps the process from getting too messy! Don’t worry about whether all the rolls are exactly the same size, but if you have a scale, that can help.
- Don’t skip the steaming part — it really helps the rolls form a great crusty top. Once you’ve poured in the hot water, keep the oven shut. No peeking until you’re well into the baking process — 20 minutes to check for doneness.
- I do have a baking stone, but it’s a round pizza stone, so when I make rolls I use a baking pan instead. They come out quite nicely.
- Truly a wonderful recipe!
For other versions of Spinach-based bread, you may be interested in the following: