After one year and 104 recipes, I finished the Brooks Bakes Bread Project on March 27, 2012. You can still find me baking and cooking at my new blog, Tangled Up In Food.

Categories: Rolls

Crackling Biscuits
February 28, 2012

by stacy
Published on: February 28, 2012
Categories: Crackling Biscuits, Rolls
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Since I live north of the Mason-Dixon Line, I couldn’t find any pork cracklings.  I also couldn’t find lard in a quantity less than five pounds, and Minnesota has blue laws that prohibit the sale of most alcohol on Sundays (such as the white wine the recipe calls for).  Also, I wanted to halve the recipe.

So here is my heavily modified version of Crackling Biscuits, without cracklings:

Bacon Biscuits
Inspired by “Crackling Biscuits” from Beard on Bread, by James Beard

Crackling Biscuits

Ingredients:

1/2 package active dry yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons warm milk
1 3/4 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 egg, separated
4 slices of bacon, fried until crispy and finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon of pepper (this yields a very peppery biscuit, use less if you prefer)
1/4 cup vegetable shortening, melted
1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon warm water

Dissolve the yeast and 1/2 tablespoon flour in warm milk and let proof.  Combine 1 3/4 cup flour, the egg white, bacon, salt, pepper, shortening, and 1/4 cup water.  Add yeast mixture and stir, adding more water if needed to form a stiff dough.  Knead on a floured surface until smooth.  Place dough in a buttered bowl and let rise for about one hour, or until doubled in bulk.

Punch the dough down and let rest for three minutes.  Roll the dough out, fold in half, cover with a cloth, and let it rest for 10 minutes.  Repeat the rolling, folding, and resting process three more times (four total).  Roll dough out to a thickness of 1/2 inch and cut out biscuits with round cutter.  Place biscuits on a buttered baking sheet.  Beat the egg yolk with 1 teaspoon of water.  Score the biscuits in a lattice pattern and brush with the egg wash.

Crackling Biscuits Before Baking

When the egg wash has dried, bake the biscuits in a preheated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Crackling Biscuits

I found my biscuits to be edible, but not much to write home about.  The texture was light and flaky, but the bacon bits and tons of pepper just didn’t do it for me.  Maybe they would have been better with cracklings and white wine.

Sweet Potato Rolls
November 13, 2011

by stacy
Published on: November 13, 2011
Categories: Rolls, Sweet Potato Rolls
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“This is a traditional American bread that can also be made with winter squash.  it is deep yellow in color and has a lightness and a lasting moisture.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

Yesterday we celebrated an early Thanksgiving dinner with my parents, since we’re spending Thanksgiving in Milwaukee with Mike’s parents.  We had a turkey breast cooked in the slow cooker with cranberry-sage stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, and Sweet Potato Rolls.  I am happy to report that the first “Thanksgiving” dinner Mike and I hosted was a success, and the Sweet Potato Rolls were delicious.

Here are the ingredients:

Sweet Potato Rolls Ingredients

The recipe calls for 1/2 cup of mashed sweet potato.  I boiled a small sweet potato for about 45 minutes, skinned and mashed it, and measured out 1/2 cup.

The dough mixed up nicely, and was easy to knead.  It was much softer than a typical white bread dough due to the sweet potato, and a lovely light orange color.  After letting the dough rise for 45 minutes, I divided it into 24 approximately equal pieces and rolled each one into a ball.  After another 30 minutes of rising time, I glazed the rolls with a cream and egg mixture and they were ready for the oven.

Sweet Potato Rolls After Second Rising

The rolls were done after 15 minutes at 375 degrees.

Sweet Potato Rolls

Sweet Potato Rolls are the perfect bread for a Thanksgiving spread: light and fluffy, with a subtle flavor sweet potato and a hint of sweetness.  This Beard on Bread recipe just might become a family tradition.

Parker House Rolls
October 24, 2011

by stacy
Published on: October 24, 2011
Categories: Parker House Rolls, Rolls
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“Parker House rolls are as much of a tradition in the United States as any bread.  They were created, so the story goes, by the Parker House in Boston, which was one of our great nineteenth-century hostelries.  They have been copied by every cookbook author and every baker in the country.  Some versions are exceedingly good and some are absolutely dreadful…”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

I am definitely behind in posting, thanks to a busy weekend with my in-laws visiting from the Milwaukee area.

Anyway, last Friday was a perfect October day: I took the day off from work, ate a pumpkin bagel, went for a brisk run in the park through the fall leaves, started knitting a hat, and baked Parker House Rolls.  The recipe can be found on the James Beard Foundation’s website.

Here are the ingredients:

Parker House Rolls Ingredients

The technique for Parker House Rolls is a bit different from a standard Beard on Bread recipe.  I started by mixing all of the wet ingredients, butter, sugar, and yeast with half of the flour to form a sponge.  Then, I set the sponge in a nice sunny spot on the kitchen table and went for a run.  When I returned, 45 minutes later, the sponge was about to rise right out of the bowl.  I mixed in the rest of the flour, kneaded the dough, and let it rise again.

This time, my rise took a whopping 20 minutes.  Clearly, my yeast was throwing some sort of rowdy party in my bread dough.  I divided the dough in two and rolled each piece out.  Then I used a biscuit cutter to cut the dough into rounds.

I was supposed to have rounds that were 1/2 inch thick, which I did if you consider the average.  Half of my dough rounds were about 1/4 inch, and the other half were 3/4 inch.   The thicker rounds were difficult to shape into a Parker House foldover: you have to make an indentation in the center of the round and then fold one half of the round into the middle.

After I managed to manhandle all of my rolls into an approximate foldover, I let them rise for about half an hour.

Parker House Rolls After Third Rising

I baked both sheets of rolls at once, by strategically positioning my oven racks and rotating the rolls during baking.  I baked them for seven minutes, then switched the top pan and the bottom pan, baked another seven minutes, switched, tasted a roll and decided it was too doughy, baked for two minutes, switched, and finally baked for another two minutes for a grand total of 18 minutes.

Parker House Rolls

Parker House Rolls were a huge hit with my in-laws, and for good reason: they have a nice crisp crust on the outside, a light and fluffy inside, and taste divine.  Everyone was so busy eating seconds, and thirds, that they didn’t even notice my questionable foldover technique.  I think the key is roll your dough out to exactly 1/2 inch–use a ruler if you have to!

Bread Sticks
September 25, 2011

by stacy
Published on: September 25, 2011
Categories: Bread Sticks, Rolls
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“The bread sticks made from this dough taste yeasty and have nice crunch to them.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

Flush with success from making it to the halfway mark of the Brooks Bakes Bread project yesterday, I wanted to bake some more bread.  I chose bread sticks since they would pair nicely with our dinner of salmon and boiled potatoes.

Ingredients:

Breadsticks Ingredients

The plastic bags in front are filled with poppy seeds and sesame seeds to sprinkle on the bread sticks.

Although very hands-on, this is a simple recipe: mix the ingredients together, knead the dough, and shape it into bread sticks.  Of course, I had a difficult time 1) dividing the dough into equal sections and 2) rolling the dough into decent-looking bread sticks.  As you can see, my bread sticks varied widely in length.

Breadsticks Before Baking

After a brief rising time of 20 minutes, the bread sticks were ready for the oven.  I used two oven racks, rotating the baking sheets halfway though the 30 minute baking time to ensure that the bottom bread sticks didn’t get over-baked.

Breadsticks

Despite their non-uniform appearance, the bread sticks were delicious: slightly chewy, with the perfect amount of salt and wonderful crunch from the sesame seeds.  Beard claims that they keep well for several days, but I doubt that we will be able to verify that–all the bread sticks will be gone well before then.

 

Alvin Kerr’s Zephyr Buns
May 29, 2011

by stacy
Published on: May 29, 2011
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“[Alvin Kerr’s Zephyr Buns] have beautiful texture, shape, and color, perfect for an elegant dinner or luncheon.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

Mike and I don’t do much in the way of elegant dinners or luncheons.  However, today was a rainy, gloomy spring afternoon, so I decided to make a pork loin and Alvin Kerr’s Zephyr Buns for dinner.

Here are the ingredients:

Alvin Kerr's Zephyr Buns Ingredients

I had to add an extra teaspoon of water to the dough to get it to hold together.  The rising took what seemed like forever—the recipe calls for a rising time of 1 ½  hours, but the dough still didn’t look like it had doubled after 2 ½ hours.  However, by this point I was getting tired of sitting on the couch reading a book and eating Froot Loops, so I divided the dough into 16 nearly-equal pieces and shaped them into rolls.  Beard says to divide the dough into 18 pieces, but it’s so much easier to divide dough in half versus dividing it into thirds.

I let the rolls rise for 30 minutes, and then brushed them with a beaten egg.

Alvin Kerr's Zephyr Buns Before Baking

Since today seemed to be a slow day for everything, I had to bake them in the oven for the entire time recommended, 10 minutes at 375 degrees.

Alvin Kerr's Zephyr Buns

These are tiny rolls, only about the size of a half-dollar coin.  I envision them on little china plates with cups of tea, being eaten by ladies in hats and gloves who use British phrases like “Fancy that!”  But mental image aside, Alvin Kerr’s Zephyr Buns are delicious, slightly sweet and buttery-tasting, with a fine, fluffy texture.  I froze half of the rolls to serve to my in-laws for dinner next weekend.  I don’t have any elegant china, but I may have to break out the place mats—fancy that!

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About the Baker
I'm a paralegal living and working in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area. Besides baking, blogging, and eating bread, I love knitting and enjoying the Minnesota outdoors. My husband, Mike, is the Brooks Bakes Bread website developer, bread photographer, and chief taste tester.
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