If you’re new to bread-making, it may behoove you to read my Bread Workshop post.
Due to the popularity of my last post on bread, and the fact that it was very good bread and I like bread, I’m writing again about bread. I love bread. Scroll to the bottom if you only want the recipe without commentary or pictures.
They’re also pretty easy to make. They’re not as easy Crusty, Rustic, No Knead Bread, but few things in life are. Just so you’re not surprised this recipe calls for poaching bread. It will be weird.
You’ll need: 1.5 cups warm water (Hot water will kill the yeast and cold water will fail to activate it.); 1 package (.25 ounces) dry active yeast; 2 teaspoons sugar; 4.5 cups flour; 2+ teaspoons coarse ground salt. (Sea salt or Kosher salt will do fine, but the coarseness of the salt is important for this dish.); 4 tablespoons of butter; .25 cups baking soda; 1 whole egg.
You’ll note that I have acquired a big mixing bowl. This was a gift from DLH and it is awesome! In this big mixing bowl add your water, yeast, and sugar. Stir together and let sit until foamy. If it does not foam, your water was too hot or your yeast was too old. Try again.
Next, add flour, salt, and melted butter to the bowl. Stir well. Most recipes recommend using a standup mixer with a dough hook on a low setting. You can do that. Or you can start the mixing with a fork then finish it up with your freshly washed hands. (Who can afford a mixer these days!?) Once the mixture has become a single sticky ball, leave it in a warm place to rise. Check the dough periodically. It will increase in size.
Once it has nearly doubled (30 minutes – 2 hours), place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Knead lightly for just a few minutes. The dough should still be sticky when you are done.
Cut the dough into 8 pieces and roll each piece into a ball with your hands. Leave the balls in a warm place to rise. Again, just leave them until they double in size. This could take anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes. If they haven’t risen by then they’re not going to. Make sure it is warm enough for them. My oven runs way too hot for rising bread, but I’ve taken to turning the warmer on for a few minutes then turning the oven off and opening the door. A recently warm (not hot! mind you) oven with an open door seems to be perfect for bread.
Now for the good part! Boil a quart or two of water in a big pan on the stove. Slowly (VERY SLOWLY) add .25 cups baking soda to the boiling water. If you add it too fast the pan will turn into an impromptu volcano.
Then, using a slotted spoon, lower each roll, one by one, into the boiling water. Let them boil for 30 seconds then flip them over and repeat. Remove the rolls and place them on a baking sheet. They will absorb a lot of water and grow significantly.
Finally, stir a single egg up using a whisk or a fork. Lightly brush (or pour) the egg over the rolls. Place the rolls in the oven and bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes. There you have it. They’re amazing hot and still pretty good the next day. If they’ve cooled too much when your guests arrive, just wrap them in a paper towel and pop them in the microwave for 30 seconds.