with the holiday fast approaching, many of my friends and family members have been seeking out my advice on their thanksgiving tables. most of them have been asking me the same question… “what should i bring to so-and-so’s house?” and my answer is this… if you don’t or don’t like to cook, bring wine or a nice bottle of booze. if you want to participate in a true pot-luck style and bring something you made, stick with dessert or bread. this way, if the dish fails, nobody is missing a side dish or vegetable that you signed up to make and if it’s successful, hooray for everyone! i mean, really? who wouldn’t like more dessert or bread? since my last two posts have focused on dessert, it’s time to zero in on a good holiday bread recipe. i realize that for many people bread baking can be a terrifying endeavor. i used to be one of those people. since i’m “self taught” in the baking department, you can rest assured that i’ve made all the same mistakes that you have. but, by making all those mistakes, i’ve worked out the kinks for you and written some easy to follow bread recipes and these pumpkin dinner rolls are one of them. i have also come up with a few bread baking tips that will take some of the fear out of rising dough…
1. always proof your yeast in warm water before adding the rest of the ingredients. this way you won’t waste all of the ingredients if your yeast is bad. the water should be the temperature of a gentle bath. test it on your wrist since our hands tend to be slightly desensitized.
2. knead your dough for a solid 5 minutes. set your timer! your dough should be silky and elastic.
3. be patient! let your dough rise to double its size, punch it down, and let it rise again as a roll or a loaf.
pumpkin dinner rolls (makes 24 rolls)
2 packages of active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup water (it should be the temperature of a nice bath)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 stick butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon salt
1- 15 oz can pumpkin
4 to 5 cups flour
in the bowl of an electric mixer, combine yeast with 1 tablespoon of sugar and warm water, stir, let proof for 5 minutes. (it should be a little foamy)
add brown sugar, butter, salt, pumpkin and the eggs to the yeast mixture and whisk to combine. using the dough hook, turn the mixture on low and add the flour, 1 cup at a time until the dough forms a nice ball and doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl. this will take around 10 minutes.
turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes adding only enough flour to prevent it from 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 lightly with oil (spray canola oil is great for this). 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 24 balls. place them on 2 cookie sheets that are covered in parchment about 2 inches apart. let rise another 20 minutes.*
preheat oven to 375° .
brush the rolls with an egg wash (an egg beaten with a little water or milk)
bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
*at this point you can put the cookie sheets in the fridge and bake the rolls right before dinner. just bring them up to room temperature and brush with the egg wash before baking.
baking bread has become one of my favorite past times. even the failed attempts don’t get me down because i usually learn something. these rolls have a subtle sweetness that goes wonderfully with turkey. they also make a great vehicle for left-over turkey sandwiches. your holiday host will appreciate your effort in making these homemade rolls and probably request them year after year. have a fabulous thanksgiving everyone! gobble gobble!