I’m a bit disappointed that I missed posting yesterday in accordance with my anniversary commitment, but I’ve been completely consumed by The Sickness. I felt like I got hit by a truck yesterday, and I think I spent approximately 30 minutes of the entire day upright with my eyes open. Yuck.
I was actually supposed to have a dinner party tonight, but I had to cancel it because of my illness. (I know I wouldn’t want someone with flu-like symptoms preparing my food, never mind that I couldn’t work up the energy to go to the grocery store. I’m also not talking at this point because my throat hurts so bad. Wah, wah.) I did spend the earlier part of my week experimenting with a few recipes I intended to use for the dinner party, though, including Martha Stewart’s No-Knead Dinner Rolls.
Back in 2006, there was all this hullabaloo about “no-knead bread.” (Mark Bittman then created some residual hullabaloo in 2008 with his Faster No-Knead Bread recipe.) Apparently, some people hate kneading bread so much that it’s the one thing stopping them from making it. I actually love kneading bread; I think it’s therapeutic (and a good mini workout). When I was looking for dinner roll recipes (kneading allowed) earlier this week, though, most had a yield much greater than what I needed and they weren’t easily halved. (While it is possible to reduce recipes that call for only one egg, I can’t say that I enjoy weighing and dividing one; I never feel like I get a good white-to-yolk ratio.) The No-Knead Dinner Roll recipe, though, had quantities that were easily reduced. The half-yield was still a bit too much (9 rolls), but I couldn’t deal with the waste that making two or three dozen rolls would create. Plus, they’re super easy, which is always a plus.
Note: The ingredient quantities mentioned below are for a half recipe; click on the recipe link at the end of the post for the original amounts.
First, I put 1 cup of warm (105F to 115F) water in a large bowl. I sprinkled it with 1 packet (1/4 ounce) of active dry yeast and let the mixture stand until it was foamy (about 5 minutes).
Next, I added 2 tablespoons of sugar, 2 tablespoons of melted butter, 1 large egg (lightly beaten), and 3/4 teaspoon of table salt to the yeast-water mixture, whisking to combine. I added 3 cups of all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), stirring with a wooden spoon until everything was incorporated and a sticky dough had formed. Using a pastry brush, I brushed the top of the dough with more melted butter, covered the bowl with plastic wrap, and set it aside until the dough had doubled in bulk (about 1 hour).
After the hour had passed, I turned the dough out onto my well-floured kitchen counter. With floured hands, I rolled the dough into a thick log and cut it into 9 equal pieces. (I cut the log into thirds, and then cut each third into thirds.)
To prepare for baking, I brushed an 8 x 8-inch pan with melted butter. I used my hands to flatten each piece of dough individually, then folded the edges towards the center, pressing to secure, until a smooth ball formed. I put the dough balls in the prepared baking pan (smooth side up), covered the pan loosely with plastic wrap, and let them rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (about 30 minutes).
After the rolls had risen adequately, I removed the plastic wrap from the pan and baked them at 400F for 35 minutes. The recipe said to tent the rolls if they were browning too quickly. I tented them when I checked them at the 20-minute mark, but I probably would have tented them at the 15-minute mark if I had checked them sooner. (The ended up a bit more brown that I would have liked.) I pulled the rolls apart and served them warm.
Considering that this was just about the easiest bread recipe ever, the rolls were pretty good. The “shell” was a bit firmer than I like and I already mentioned that they were a bit too brown, but the bread really was delicious. Plus, I could take the credit for making them from scratch (with hardly any work, seriously) and the house smelled heavenly. I think this recipe would be absolutely perfect for “beginner” bread makers; it’s pretty straightforward and hard to screw up, but the results are worthwhile.
TIP: The recipe says you can skip the second rise and refrigerate the rolls for 4 hours or up to 1 day instead. That way, you could make the dough and form the rolls the night before or the morning of, and then just move them directly from the refrigerator to the oven when you’re ready to bake them.
Recipe link: No-Knead Dinner Rolls