Tag Archives: rolls

Crusty Spinach Feta and Sun-dried Tomato Bread Rolls

Spinach Feta Sun-dried Tomato Rolls

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.

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Gourmet’s Rye Walnut Rolls

Walnutbuns
I don't know that I've had walnuts in anything that I didn't like.  I just like walnuts.  I like the bite on the side of my tongue that doesn't come when I chew into a pecan which is much more sweet.

Walnuts in cookies, salad, and pasta get my full, undivided attention, so it seems reasonable that I'd like them in bread, too.  And what a surprise that the bread isn't sweet, or filled with raisins and flavored with cinnamon.  But I wouldn't complain if that's what was put in front of me.  How could I?

No, it's a savory bread, and one filled with onions, too.  As I worked my way through this recipe, I wondered about how thyme, or a bit of cheese might taste.

And bacon.  Life is too short to not include a bit of pork fat when one can.

But I resisted, so it looks like I just may have to revisit this recipe, the third of four I've chosen to bake this month and featured in Gourmet.  I've enjoyed making bread once a week so far this month and am considering keeping up with it since the possibilities are endless and I have so much to learn.

I love possibilities.  They're just hovering out there, waiting for someone to take notice.

Unfortunately, it takes some motivation, doesn't it?  And my motivation failed me after I purchased the rye flour I was happy to have in my pantry for these lovely rolls.  It was to have been used in a starter that I promised to make and never did.

I'll get around to that one of these days, but in the meantime, it was nice to have the rye flour just waiting.

This recipe for Rye Walnut Rolls is the third of four for
the month of February as part of "Let Us Eat Bread," featuring recipes
from Gourmet's "Roll With It."  Our bread baking group includes:  Judy of No Fear Entertaining, Courtney of Coco Cooks, Andrea of Andrea's Recipes, Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen, and our fearless leader, Sandy of At the Baker's Bench. 

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Gourmet’s Orange Pumpkin Cloverleafs

We live on a hill.  Some may not call it that, but I do, and depending on which direction you approach our hill, it resembles something quite large with very steep roads leading to it, making it a challenge if one happens to be stuck behind a truck, a school bus, or someone who has passed a driver's test but hasn't yet figured out that the gas pedal is what makes the car proceed in a forward motion if it's properly in gear.

But I digress.

Living on this hill provides us a view of the Pacific from one window and from two others, the skyline of the area near downtown and the mountains in the eastern part of the county.  Actually, the view of the Pacific is about 16 inches if I strain, sneaking out my ruler just to make sure, and the other more a craning of my neck around my neighbor's Texas Cherry Brush hedge that is more like a jungle.  On days like today when the weather is not exactly as most expect it to be, I look at both horizons and notice the dark grey upper sky heavy with rain clouds.  The sun is struggling to shine somewhere East casting the mountains in varying shades of grey and adding to the ominous look of the storm clouds.  The Pacific is indiscernible, as grey as the sky. 

I love rainy days. 

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So it seems appropriate that I bring you something that is about as close to packaged sunshine as I can find.  If you're lucky enough to get one right from the oven, the warmth speaks for itself.

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Cracked-Wheat Topknots

When it comes to baking bread, I’m still in the semi-novice stage.  Sure, I’ve baked many a loaf in my life, and some far better than others, but I’ve got a comfort zone that’s quite different than the wild and frequently erratic boundaries I work within when it comes to cooking in general.

No, bread is still somewhat of a novelty.

When I make bread, it’s an occasion in and of itself.  And although I’m getting better at actually accomplishing other things when I’ve got a batch going, I’ll never quite get to the point where I won’t worry about whether I’ll forget the dough in my oven proofer
after I’ve left to run some errands, or sitting patiently in a strange place on the floor, no longer basking in the warmth cast by the winter sunshine.  Or just wondering why there is so much difference between one recipe and the next when it comes to yeast.

Many expect the liquid we mix the yeast with to be a specific temperature — usually between 105-115 degrees F — and we’re admonished that if the yeast doesn’t bubble and foam happily in the little bowl, then we’re to toss it and begin again.

Other recipes tell us to just throw everything in a mixing bowl at one time, not worrying about the temperature or a waiting time — and never a threat of possibly needing to begin again or risk less than puffy gluten-packed wonderfulness.

But when I get that first whiff of bread in the oven, there’s no way I can take it for granted, and as much as I’d like to admit that we’ll use it for sandwiches during the week, or that I’ll let it cool completely, then freeze it like a more organized and purposeful cook than I might be, I know we’ll simply enjoy it.  We’ll enjoy it like fresh cookies hot from the oven, or a sweet pie baked for a special occasion.

The guys will look at it, then at me, then back at the bread and ask, with hope and longing in their eyes, “Is this for eating?”

Clearly, we need to get a grip!  So when Sandy of At the Baker’s Bench posed an offer to our recent holiday cookie-baking group to join her in baking bread throughout February, I thought absolutely, and “Let Us Bake Bread” was launched.  Once a week for a month I’ll post one of the recipes featured in Gourmet’s article, “Roll with it” in this month’s issue.  I decided to get it rolling with Cracked-Wheat Topknots because I’m a fan of crunchiness in bread regardless of whether it’s due to nuts or whole grains, and I just happened to have some bulgar in my pantry just waiting for a place to get happy.

In case you’ve forgotten who my cookie conspirators were, I’m joined in this yeasty frivolity by Judy of No Fear Entertaining, Courtney of Coco Cooks, Andrea of Andrea’s Recipes, and Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen.

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Pumpkin Rosemary Dinner Rolls

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With all the different types of bread recipes I've tried in the last year, I can say that I not only no longer cringe at the thought of tackling dough, but can decide five minutes before I lift Bertha from her spot in my kitchen that fresh bread it will be — and tonight if I want — even if it's the traditional version.  Big Bertha, my Kitchen Aid, definitely helps since I don't have to knead the dough for 10 minutes and couldn't even if I wanted to.  One or both of my arms have been royally screwed up for the last 25 years and when I do too much grasping or clenching, lifting or pruning, I live to regret it.  I used to be able to use Chopin as an excuse, but can't remember the last time I touched my piano keys for more than dusting.  *Sorry Mom.  How much did those lessons cost when you couldn't afford much else?*

My right arm has been singing with agony for two weeks now, thanks to a couple of hours choosing travertine for our home renovations.  How much does one of those 20×20" pieces weigh?  Definitely more than my arms want to deal with.

I'm quite thankful for my Bertha who is about 10 years old.  She's not sleek, but she's more than dependable, and when my arms are healthy, she doesn't mind that I enjoy getting my hands into a lump of silky dough.

The latest dough I experimented with was anything but silky.  It was sticky and not very cooperative, but so worth it.  Let's just say I was a bit more timely in getting the little  not so carved pumpkin off my porch after Halloween to bake and puree this year to create Pumpkin Rosemary Dinner Rolls.

Talk about pillowey bread-like wonderfulness?

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