Golden Sandwich Rolls

I have a theory. I can’t prove it beyond question but, I just don’t think I’m wrong.

Theory: A lot of people are scared of baking because of poorly written recipes–especially poorly written recipes for bread.

I struggled a lot in some of my more advanced science classes in college, and I’ll always remember especially struggling when having to complete an experiment as part of the assignment in labs. The directions were almost never very detailed–at least, not detailed enough for me to understand them.

Baking is, essentially, a science experiment. A poorly written science experiment is most likely going to go poorly, especially when the person reading the directions is not familiar with the material. The order in which ingredients are added in a science experiment matters–the same is true with baking just about anything.

Adding the flour into a cake batter before the butter and sugar is creamed will result in a cake that has the texture of a rubber tire. Mixing an egg directly into hot milk (rather than tempering them first) will result in scrambled eggs instead of custard. Room temperature, unchilled chocolate chip cookie dough will result in cookies flat as pancakes, every time.

Baking directions need to be clear and concise, leaving very little room for interpretation because more often than not, there isn’t much room for it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read bread recipes (in cookbooks authored by very famous bakers, or on very popular websites, by the way) and seen them read something like this:

“Combine all ingredients together to make a smooth bread dough, and allow to rise.”

Like…what?

How is someone (who is not a baker) supposed to follow that?

Using yeast used to make me nervous too. In the beginning when I was first starting out learning how to bake, I too avoided bread recipes because when I read through a lot of the recipes, they just weren’t clear enough to where I felt comfortable enough to try. I get it guys.

Whenever I post a bread recipe on this blog, I try to ensure that it’s written as clearly and concisely as I can make it. I know that I do make some things that seem ‘advanced’, but I still want them to be accessible for people who aren’t used to baking and may want to try it out.

Today’s recipe is another where I tried to write it out to make baking with yeast incredibly easy. In fact, I’d go so far as to say, it’s nearly fail-proof. They’re a simple golden, rich sandwich roll that I think would be perfect for sliders, or breakfast sandwiches (which is how I’ve been enjoying them). Feel free to add fresh or dried herbs to give them added flavor. The crumb inside is soft and fluffy, yet also toasts very well. This is one experiment that I can guarantee won’t go wrong, and that you’ll be very happy that you tried it out.

Golden Sandwich Rolls

Recipe Adapted from Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried herbs of your choice
  • 3 teaspoons of dry active yeast
  • 2 tablespoons of softened butter
  • 2 eggs, room temperature and beaten
  • 5 1/2-6 cups of all purpose flour (you may not need it all depending on time of year and your location)
  • sesame seeds, optional

Directions

Place the warm water in a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water. Sprinkle one tablespoon of the sugar on top of the yeast. Allow it to sit for ten minutes, until proofed and frothy.

Pour the yeast-water mixture into the bowl of a standing mixer. Add the dry milk, remaining tablespoon of sugar, salt, pepper, dried herbs and beaten eggs. Use the paddle attachment to mix the ingredients until combined. Switch to the dough hook attachment and add the softened butter, mixing just until butter is absorbed (it’s okay if it looks a little curdled).

Add the flour in one cup increments, just until the dough begins to come together around the hook. Once it has, turn off the mixer and scrape the dough out onto a clean work surface that you’ve sprinkled with flour (like a pastry mat or a smooth countertop). Use your hands to firmly knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 10-12 minutes. You can use additional flour (about 1/4 cup at a time) if it’s still too sticky; I also prefer to rub my hands with canola, olive or vegetable oil before kneading and that helps a lot without having to add more flour.

(The dough is ready when you can stretch one piece of it out very thin, and it’s translucent enough to see through.)

Grease the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl and place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel and allow it to rest until doubled in size, 1 1/2 hours.

Place two sheets of parchment paper onto two sheet pans. Turn dough out onto your clean work surface and punch down to deflate air bubbles. Divide it into 2 halves, keeping one half covered with plastic wrap while you work with the other.

Roll dough out into a rectangle that’s about 1/2 inch thick. Use a 2 1/2 inch cutter (square or circle, doesn’t matter) to cut out individual rolls. Place the rolls on the lined sheet pans. Repeat until you’ve used up all the dough. Cover both sheet pans of rolls with plastic wrap and damp kitchen towels. Allow to rest and rise until puffy and grown (they may not be doubled in size, but they should’ve grown at least a little) about 50-60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly spray the tops of the rolls with cooking spray and sprinkle the tops with sesame seeds. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for about 15-20 minutes (check them early, mine baked quickly).

Remove to a wire rack to let cool completely.

*Thump the bottoms of the rolls with your thumb and forefinger; a hollow sound means they’re done. Bread in general is finished at an inner temp of 195-200 degrees Fahrenheit.*

Sharing this post at Fiesta Friday #260, co-hosted this week by Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau and Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.

Flour’s Famous Sticky Buns

Sticky Buns2

When was the last time you had to do something that required a whole lot of effort?

I can think of several things in my life that I’ve had to do that really forced me to go the extra mile and push myself to the limits to make sure that I got the job done.

Example? Well, let’s take the ISP (Integrated Physical Sciences) course that I took when I was still an undergrad student at Michigan State. It was a requirement for every student to take one before they could graduate. By the time my fifth year came around (‘Super Senior Year’ is what we called them), I still had to get mine out of the way. Now before you get all judgmental on me for that, just hold your horses for one collard-pickin minute and let me explain:

I had a personal goal to keep a very good GPA throughout my undergrad career. This is not easy to do when you’re trying to juggle two jobs (at one point, I had three because I was crazy). Additionally, I’d witnessed one too many other people attempt to get all of their requirements out of the way when they first got to campus freshman year,then witness their GPAs plummet at the subjects they weren’t very good at. This wasn’t going to happen to me. Nope. That’s why, by the time my first year of college came around, I had my strategy all planned out.

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Whereas most freshmen took the  required classes that they thought they would struggle in the most first-I did the complete opposite. I took all the classes I knew that I would do very well in first. Turns out, this was a pretty smart idea because there’s a little secret that they neglect to tell Freshmen about concerning the GPA: it’s very VERY difficult to build back up once it goes down. You’re much better off starting off strong, then gradually allowing it to drop little by little rather than making it plummet right off rip then try to rebuild it back up. Which is exactly what I did. I waited until the last couple years of my undergrad years to take my math and sciences classes- which were still extremely challenging.

I ended up having to take one Math class 3 TIMES. (Don’t ask,it’s still too painful to talk about). My second math class is a blur to me-all I remember was that I did a lot of praying and drank more coffee than was healthy for me. And I swear that my Statistics class was specifically designed to shave off 5 years of my life.

The only reason I passed my Biology course was because I did every single extra credit assignment that my professor assigned- and I really, really REALLY didn’t like him. He was one of the most arrogant jerks I’d ever met and getting up at 8:00 am every Monday morning to listen to him lecture (literally)was just NOT  fun. He was one of those teachers that liked seeing students fail his tests because it made him feel smarter. Just thinking about him now is putting me in a bad mood.  I couldn’t stand him to the point where Hell would freeze over before I gave him the satisfaction of not passing his class. I definitely did.

Sticky Buns4

My Physics class was the last one that I had to take. It was a summer course, which meant it went much faster than normal classes during the Fall and Spring semesters.It was also an online class, meaning that we never even saw the professor besides the lectures videos he uploaded to  a website.Our assignments were submitted electronically and we all had to go into a lecture hall on campus to take 3 tests, and that was it. The cool thing about the tests were that the professor allowed us to have one double sided cheat sheet that we could use.

That was all I needed to hear.

Looking back, the effort I put into my cheat sheet was kinda ridiculous. I wrote as small and tiny as I possibly could to make sure I could fit every single piece of information on the paper. And just to make sure I didn’t waste time during the test looking for the colossal amounts of information i was writing down, I eveen color coded the cheat sheet according to specific topics. I wasn’t leaving ANYTHING to chance. I was GOING to pass that class.

And I did. Rather well, actually.

And my GPA when I graduated? 3.527…like a Boss.

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Like the cheat sheets from my ISP class, these sticky buns require a little bit of extra effort. But like the cheat sheets, they are also SOOOO worth the end result. My twin sister had been asking me to make them for weeks before I finally gave in and decided to give them a go. I’ve heard of this recipe because of the extreme popularity of the bakery, Flour that they originally come from that’s run by Joann Chang. People supposedly line up and wait hours for these sticky buns…and I can’t say that I blame them. The verdict from my family was unanimous; they’re fantastic. What really sets them apart from your typical sticky bun has gotta be the ‘goo’ that they’re topped with. It’s thick and gooey, but not overly sweet. The dough is what requires the extra mile, as it’s supposed to set up overnight in the fridge, but like I said, you’re not going to regret it. It’s golden, buttery and tender brioche at its best.

I’m taking these sticky buns to the Fiesta Friday #29 hosted this week by Angie@TheNoviceGardener and cohosted by Jhuls and Selma.  I certainly hope you’ll be there to join us at the party to get one….because these babies just aren’t gonna last that long.

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Flour’s Famous Sticky Buns

Recipe Courtesy of Joann Chang

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION (PAGE 1, PAGE 2, PAGE 3)

Ingredients

Goo

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks;)unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Basic Brioche Dough, recipe follows
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Brioche Dough

  • 2 1/2 cups (350 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
  • 2 1/4 cups (340 grams) bread flour
  • 1 1/2 packages (3 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast or 1-ounce fresh cake yeast
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 3/8 cups (2 3/4 sticks;) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 10 to 12 pieces

Directions

1. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the brown sugar & cook, stirring, to combine (it may look separated, that’s ok).

2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the honey, cream, water, &salt. Strain to remove any undissolved lumps of brown sugar. Let cool for about 30 minutes, or until cooled to room temperature. You should have about 3 cups. (The mixture can be made up to 2 weeks in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)

3. Divide the dough in half. Use half for this recipe and reserve the other half for another use. On a floured work surface, roll out the brioche into rectangle about 12 by 16 inches and 1/4-inch thick. It will have the consistency of cold, damp Play-Doh and should be fairly easy to roll. Position the rectangle so a short side is facing you.

4. In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and half of the pecans. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the entire surface of the dough. Starting from the short side farthest from you and working your way down, roll up the rectangle like a jelly roll. Try to roll tightly, so you have a nice round spiral. Trim off about 1/4- inch from each end of the roll to make them even.

5. Use a bench scraper or a chef’s knife to cut the roll into 8 equal pieces, each about 1 1/2-inches wide. (At this point, the unbaked buns can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 1 week. When ready to bake, thaw them, still wrapped, in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours, then proceed as directed.)

6. Pour the goo into a 9 by 13-inch baking dish, covering the bottom evenly. Sprinkle the remaining pecans evenly over the surface. Arrange the buns, evenly spaced, in the baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm spot to proof until the dough is puffy, pillowy, and soft and the buns are touching-almost tripled in size, about 2 hours.

7. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat to 350 degrees F. Bake until golden brown, about 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool in the dish on a wire rack for 20 to 30 minutes. One at a time, invert the buns onto a serving platter, and spoon any extra goo and pecans from the bottom of the dish over the top. The buns are best served warm or within 4 hours of baking. They can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day, and then warmed in a 325 degree F oven for 10 to 12 minutes before serving.

Brioche Dough:

8. Using a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the all-purpose flour, bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt, water, and 5 of the eggs. Beat on low speed for 3 to 4 minutes, or until all the ingredients are combined. Stop the mixer, as needed, to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all the flour is incorporated into the wet ingredients. Once the dough has come together, beat on low speed for another 3 to 4 minutes. The dough will be very stiff and seem quite dry.

9. With the mixer on low speed, add the butter, 1 piece at a time, mixing after each addition until it disappears into the dough. Continue mixing on low speed for about 10 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. It is important for all the butter to be thoroughly mixed into the dough. If necessary, stop the mixer occasionally and break up the dough with your hands to help mix in the butter.

10. Once the butter is completely incorporated, turn up the speed to medium and beat until the dough becomes sticky, soft, and somewhat shiny, another 15 minutes. It will take some time to come together. It will look shaggy and questionable at the start and then eventually it will turn smooth and silky. Turn the speed to medium-high and beat for about 1 minute. You should hear the dough make a slap-slap-slap sound as it hits the sides of the bowl. Test the dough by pulling at it; it should stretch a bit and have a little give. If it seems wet and loose and more like a batter than a dough, add a few tablespoons of flour and mix until it comes together. If it breaks off into pieces when you pull at it, continue to mix on medium speed for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until it develops more strength and stretches when you grab it. It is ready when you can gather it all together and pick it up in 1 piece.

11. Put the dough in a large bowl or plastic container and cover it with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly onto the surface of the dough. Let the dough proof (that is, grow and develop flavor) in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or up to overnight At this point you can freeze the dough in an airtight container for up to 1 week.