baking bread

i’m taking advantage of this gloomy, rainy day to develop some new sandwich recipes for my lunch box delivery business that i will be launching soon. i have some friends coming by tonight to munch away on my creations and give me their opinions. it’s not soooo bad to be my friend on days like this!
the first sandwich i’m working on is a nod to the classic combination of chicken and waffles. i want the bread to be a little sweet to counter the savory, salty fried chicken, so i’m making sweet potato rolls. after searching high and low for a good recipe, i found James Beard’s recipe and, no offense to James Beard, i tweaked it just a little. it needed more sweet potato (which, in turn upped the flour content) and i used brown sugar instead of white. here is my version… 

sweet potato rolls (makes 12 sandwich sized rolls)

2 packages of yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water (it should be the temperature of a nice bath)
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon salt
3 eggs, one of which is beaten together with 2 tablespoons heavy cream
4 to 5 cups flour
1 large roasted sweet potato mashed

in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook combine yeast with 1 tablespoon of sugar and warm water, let proof for 5 minutes.
add brown sugar, butter, salt, mashed sweet potato and 2 of the eggs to the yeast mixture, stir to blend well. add the flour, 1 cup at a time.
turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 2 to 3 minutes adding only enough flour to prevent it for sticking to the board. when the dough is smooth and springy, shape it into a ball. place in an oiled bowl, and coat the dough completely with oil. cover bowl with a kitchen towel and let sit in a warm place until it doubles in size, about 2 hours.
punch down the dough and shape into 12 balls. place them on a cookie sheet covered in parchment about 2 inches apart. cover and let rise until doubled in size.
preheat oven to 375° .
brush the rolls with the beaten egg and cream mixture.
bake for about 25 minutes.

this is what the rolls look like before you bake them. 

this is what the rolls look like after they come out of the oven. 

the next sandwich on my menu for the evening is served on pretzel bread. i’ve tested this recipe several times. i’ve found that instead of using a modified soft pretzel recipe; just use an actual soft pretzel dough recipe and shape the dough into 12 balls instead of rolling out ropes and tying them like pretzels. i don’t make splits on top of my rolls either. i found it to be an unnecessary step. the rolls split on their own in the oven and end up looking homemade and beautiful. i much prefer a little imperfection, don’t you? here is the recipe i have developed… 

soft pretzel rolls (makes 12 sandwich sized rolls)

2 cups warm water (it should be the temperature of a nice bath)
1 tablespoon + 2 tablespoons sugar
2 packets active dry yeast
4 to 5 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
canola oil spray
1/4 cup baking soda
1 egg beaten together with 2 tablespoons of water
course sea salt

in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook combine yeast with 1 tablespoon of sugar and warm water, let proof for 5 minutes.
add 1 cup flour to yeast, and mix on low until combined. add salt and remaining 4 cups of flour 1 cup at a time. beat on med-low until dough pulls away from the sides of bowl. turn out on floured board and knead until smooth and elastic.
put in oiled bowl and turn to coat. cover with a kitchen towel, and leave in a warm spot for 1 hour, or until dough has doubled in size.
preheat oven to 450°.
punch down the dough and shape into 12 balls. place them on a cookie sheet covered in parchment about 2 inches apart. cover and let rest for 15 minutes.
fill large, shallow pot with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Add baking soda (it will foam up a little) and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Reduce to a simmer; transfer three to four rolls to water. poach 1 minute on each side. use slotted spoon to transfer rolls back to baking sheet.
beat egg with 2 tablespoon water. brush rolls with egg glaze. sprinkle with salt. bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. let cool on wire rack, or eat warm. rolls are best when eaten the same day, but will keep at room temperature, uncovered, for two days. do not store in covered container or they’ll get soggy.

the pretzel rolls look amazing!

i worked with a chef once who said that the most honest things a cook can make are bread and soup. i must be the most honest cook on the planet by now because those are the things that i make most often. enjoy baking bread and i’ll keep sharing my recipes with you.

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About jentarantino

i went to culinary school back in the mid 90's where i soon discovered that most of my favorite things to eat begin with celery, carrots and onions; or at the very least, one of the three. i cooked professionally for a very short time, but never stopped being a "home cook". i used the skills i acquired in school to teach myself to bake and kept up on food trends by becoming addicted to cooking shows and food magazines. i will eventually open my own soup shop, but until that happens, this blog will be my culinary outlet. i hope it inspires you to... stand lovingly over a simmering pot, wait anxiously for rising bread dough, frost cupcakes with care, marinate, brine, and most importantly... make it yourself!
This entry was posted in breads, Recipes. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to baking bread

  1. Anonymous says:

    Well, these all look amazing! Every time I “bake”….. I don’t do so well and you have inspired me to try again! Gals like you always make it look easy! Here I go again!

  2. Marcelo says:

    those look delish — I wish you could deliver lucnhbox meals to me in New York City!

  3. Chicago Cuz says:

    Jen, a food blog! This is great. I’m inspired to actually cook something. I want you to start a chocolate blog next.

  4. hey cuz! i’ll make sure to post a lot of chocolate goodness for you!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Those pretzel rolls look impressive.

  6. bluefirecracker says:

    These turned out wonderfully for me – thank you!

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