Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Staff of Life

I am currently out in the woods of Michigan practicing what I preached last Monday on the show....bread making!!!!
And I mean lots of bread making. I got up yesterday at 6am to start the process of making whole wheat rolls for 40+ people. I ended up making over 100 rolls for pulled pork sandwiches for my sister's annual Harvest Party, an event that has been taking place out in the Michigan woods of her and her partner's log house for 24 years. (Actually, the party itself is held up by--and in--the barn which is decorated with dried corn, outfitted with long tables for eating and boards groaning with all the food brought by guests and made by the hosts.)
These are the same rolls that I gave the recipe for on the show last Monday. One recipe makes quiet a few and they keep well if sealed in plastic bags. (I quadrupled the recipe when making these for the party!) A little tip for a nice soft roll: after you take them out of the oven, cover them with a kitchen towel as the cool. The result is a very soft roll which is the sort you want. This is the all-american dinner roll.

Whole Wheat Rolls

2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
2 cups warm water (110 degrees to 115 degrees)
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups whole wheat flour
1.In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Let stand 5 minutes. Blend in sugar, salt and 3 cups all-purpose flour at low speed until moistened; beat 2 minutes at medium speed. Beat in egg and oil. By hand, gradually stir in whole wheat flour and enough remaining all-purpose flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise until doubled. Punch dough down and form into dinner-size rolls. Place on greased baking sheets and cover with a towel and let rise for about 45 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees F for 13-15 minutes. Cover with a towel until cool. This makes a soft roll.

I remember my very first night in Sicily and the very first thing I ate. I immediately fell in love with the place that had produced a bread that I never knew could taste as it did. I have never been able to reproduce the exact taste because I do not have access to Sicilian semolina flour and water. (Actually, semolina is just the word for flour--any type--in Italian. What we call semolina here is Duram wheat flour, the hard winter wheat variety used in making boxed pasta and the delicious bread from Sicily.)
This recipe comes from my friend, Claudia, a displaced Siciliana living in Germany with her husband and son. The measurements here are given in metric weight. If you don't have a kitchen scales, you may think about getting one. I've had mine for several years now and find myself using it all the time. In the meantime, you can sort of guess like I did the other night when I wanted to make this bread and remembered that my mother doesn't own a kitchen scales. The recipe calls for 500 grams of flour total. That is about a pound (very slightly over.)
Just make sure you have 3/4 of that pound be semolina and the rest just regular all-purpose.
But please do make it, it's very good and great for a little olive oil over a slice or perhaps a tapenade or caponata as we had the other night.

Sicilian Semolina Bread
(ala Claudia)

(75% semolina to 25 % plain flour) ....about 500g of
flour per
loaf + 2tsp dried yeast + 1.5 tsp sea salt + good
drizzle of
extra virgin olive oil + approx. 350-400 ml of lukewarm water....make it
a dough and knead with a dough hook for at least
10mins....let it rise for approx. 2 hours, punch it
back,knead it again and shape into a loaf...leave it
prove for another 45mins or so.....spray with water,
sprinkle with sesame seeds, slash then bake at 220C (425F)
approx. 40mins.

1 comment: