Thursday, November 10, 2011

Soft Semolina Dinner Rolls

I really can't remember what inspired me to buy an enormous bag of semolina flour. No, wait. Yes I can. I was going to make gnocchi. That was a year ago. I made gnocchi from scratch once before, about the time we were all worried that Y2k meant that every computer on the planet would simultaneously explode when we crossed the threshold of the 21st century. Then suddenly last fall, there was this flood of recipes on every food blog for sweet potato or butternut squash gnocchi. Coincidence? Maybe...

Anyway, I was swept up by the food fad. Only I never made the gnocchi. Shrug. It happens. Or in this case, it didn't. Eventually, I modified my favorite corn muffin recipe to include semolina, and used up some of the flour making Semolina & Honey Muffins.
Almost ready for the oven.

I made another batch of the muffins recently, and noticed this recipe for semolina dinner rolls on the bag. Now, I am not typically a fan of label recipes (I swear some of them are written by people who have heard of food, but never actually seen it, much less eaten it), but this was from King Arthur. Those good people wouldn't know how to publish a bad recipe. Well, I was making a huge batch of red lentil soup, and I wanted some fresh, hot rolls. I did not have all of the ingredients listed, so I improvised.

What You Need
Fresh and hot from the oven. Too hot to eat. You know how I know they
are still too hot to eat? Because there are twelve rolls on the cooling
rack. I ate that little one in the back row on the right as soon as it was
cool enough to butter and cram into my mouth.
  • 300g (2 cups) semolina
  • 100g (¾ cup) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp instant yeast
  • 125 ml (½ cup) warm water, 105-110°F
  • 180 ml (¾ cup) buttermilk, well-shaken
  • 2 TBS melted butter
What You Do
  1. Combine semolina, flour, and salt in a bowl.
  2. Stir the sugar and yeast into the warm water in the bowl of the stand mixer. Let the yeast proof for about 5 minutes until it is foamy, and obvious that the yeast are doing their exponential growth thing.
  3. Add the buttermilk, butter, and dry ingredients all at once. Mix using the dough hook until you have a smooth, elastic dough. This takes about five minutes.
  4. Transfer the dough to a clean, oiled bowl and cover with cling film or a clean, damp kitchen towel. Let rise until doubled in bulk (about an hour).
  5. Punch the dough down, and let it rise again until it doubles.
  6. Punch the dough again, and divide it into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece in semolina, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  7. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  8. Let the rolls rise for about 30 minutes, again until they about double.
  9. Bake the risen rolls for about 12-15 minutes, until they are delicately golden. They will not get browned, but they will take on some color.
  10. Try not to stuff an entire roll in your mouth straight from the oven. Let them cool a bit first, but definitely serve them warm with a bit of butter.
What You Eat
These are soft, buttery, and slightly tangy from the buttermilk. They are addictive. You will feel the need to stuff three of them in your mouth simultaneously, like a labrador retriever with tennis balls. Please don't. If you restrain yourself to a single roll, you will consume:
Calories 150 Protein 5.0g Vitamin B6 2.2%
Fat 2.6g Vitamin A 1.4% Folate 19%
Saturated Fat 1.5g Vitamin C 2.9% Vitamin B12 1.0%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.23g Calcium 2.9% Pantothenic Acid 2.7%
Monounsaturated Fat 0.65g Iron 8.3% Phosphorus 6.1%
Cholesterol 6.3mg Vitamin D 0.36% Magnesium 4.0%
Sodium 228mg Vitamin E 0.82% Zinc 2.8%
Potassium 90mg Thiamin 23% Copper 3.2%
Carbohydrate 26g Riboflavin 14% Selenium 37%
Fiber 1.4g Niacin 11% Manganese 11%
Sugars 1.5g

What You Learn
  • The original recipe calls for buttermilk powder. Haven't got any. Never do. What I always do have is−surprise!−actual buttermilk. If you don't keep a quart in the fridge at all times, use the same volume of liquid, just use all water plus 2 TBS buttermilk powder. No powder? I would use whole milk instead of the buttermilk. The rolls won't have the same tangy flavor, but they will have that lovely, soft, bready texture.
  • The original recipe calls for olive oil. I used butter, because, well, I love butter. How can you not? The flavor of my rolls was great: tangy and buttery. I ate the first one with butter, and almost swooned. I ate the rest (not all at once, I swear) without any butter, and did not miss it.
  • The original recipe calls for more salt. Do not use more salt, especially if you have used salted butter. The recipe calls for 1½ tsp, which is easily ½ tsp too much. Especially if you use plain table salt. I used kosher flake salt, which will be less salt by volume than table salt (because of the larger flaked structure), and 1 tsp was bordering on too much salt.
  • The original recipe also calls for a lot of spices. And cheese. I know, it's hard to believe that I did not follow the recipe. But I just wanted a tender dinner roll, because the soup I served was spicy enough.
  • The original recipe does not call for a second rise. That was me punching down the dough, then going for a run and forgetting all about it. The second rise gives the yeast more time to multiply, and if you like yeasty bread, this is an improvement in flavor. If you are indifferent to yeasty flavor, one rise is probably all you need.

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