Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sourdough Dinner Rolls

Last winter I played with several Quick Dinner Roll recipes, searching for one that might produce rolls to rival those of my mother-in-law. None matched the memory of Irene's light and airy rolls, so I'm still hunting for the perfect recipe. This month SourdoughSurprises chose dinner rolls as their baking challenge, providing me a welcome opportunity to check out successful recipes from other bakers as they post their results on individual blogs and on Pinterest. This group always produces amazing sourdough treasures.

Recent surgery has slowed down my culinary efforts lately, but it's time to get busy baking and cooking again. Soup has been a menu staple this month, helping to combat November's chilly weather, and nothing goes better with homemade soup than homemade rolls. Just the aroma of freshly baked bread adds warmth to the kitchen as well as smiles to my day. That said, I wasn't ready to attack heavy-duty kneading while still on crutches, so I returned to the search for a quick and easy dinner roll recipe, something I could do while seated. 

Rather than create a real 100% sourdough dinner roll, I added sourdough starter to an adapted version of Double-Quick Dinner Rolls found in a 1961 edition of Betty Crocker's New Picture Cook Book. Quick but not exactly "double-quick", the recipe did come together easily and produced buns that were quite acceptable. Though still not as tender and light as Irene's, these rolls were a definite improvement over my previous attempts. 

Perfect Quick Dinner Rolls are still a work in progress in my galley. Do you have a favorite recipe to recommend?

Double-Quick Dinner Rolls
makes 12-15 rolls

3/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup sourdough starter
2 1/4 cups AP flour, divided
1 tsp. salt
1 egg
3 Tbsp. butter, softened

*Optional: melted garlic butter & seasoned pepitas (toasted pumpkin seeds flavored with cayenne & garlic)

  1. Add the water and buttermilk to a large mixing bowl; sprinkle the yeast over the top and stir to dissolve.
  2. Add the sugar and sourdough starter and whisk until smooth.
  3. Sift the flour or measure with a scoop-level-pour method. Add half of the flour and the salt to the yeast mixture and beat until smooth.
  4. Add the egg and butter; beat in the rest of the flour until smooth.
  5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover with a cloth and let rise in a warm place until double (about 40 minutes in my oven set for bread proofing, 100 degrees F).
  6. Grease large muffin cups. Stir down the raised dough and scoop or spoon into the muffin cups, filling them about half full. Let rise in a warm place until the dough reaches the tops of the muffin cups.
  7. *Optional: sprinkle seasoned pepitas over the tops of each roll before the second rise.
  8. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake on a center rack until lightly golden, 15 to 20 minutes.
  9. *Optional: brush the tops of the still-warm rolls with melted garlic butter for a flavor pop.

Note: #TwelveLoaves bakers chose pumpkin as their November challenge. A sprinkling of pepitas might qualify these dinner rolls as fitting their monthly theme, or maybe not. I don't eat pumpkin-flavored anything so these buns are as close as I'll come to baking with #TwelveLoaves this month. If you are a pumpkin fan, you'll want to check out their bread recipes for November.
#TwelveLoaves is a monthly bread baking party created by Lora from Cake Duchess and run with the help of Heather of girlichef, which runs smoothly with the help of our bakers.Our host this month is Renee from Kudos Kitchen by Renee, and our theme is Pumpkin. For more bread recipes, visit the #TwelveLoaves Pinterest board, or check out last month’s tempting selection of #TwelveLoaves Apple Breads! 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Mango Ginger Shortbread Squares

My first post-operation foray into kitchen action included a predawn raid on the baking cabinet. After weeks of healthy eating (fruits, vegetables and protein) my sweet tooth kicked in. Lucky for me that my recipe for buttery shortbread squares takes few ingredients, avoids any fancy rolling pin work, and can be made quickly - even by a cook on crutches. 

My previous shortbread squares have relied on citrus zest for a flavor pop, but this time substituting freshly grated ginger made for a pleasant alternative. Dried  mango slices, still pliable and faintly moist, paired well with the ginger, adding a subtle tropical note. The golden raisins just came along for the ride it seems. I might toss in a bit of shredded, sweetened coconut next time for more Island flavor. 

The result? flavorful, buttery, crumbly shortbread squares were a fine batch of celebration cookies for my first kitchen adventure in a month. 

Mango Ginger Shortbread Squares
Recipe adapted from Short & Sweet by Melanie Barnard
Makes 16 cookies

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
½ cup dried mango, diced (I used a mix of mango & golden raisins)
½ cup powdered sugar
1 cup AP flour
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, or use a glass 8-cup measuring cup and melt the butter in the microwave.
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the ginger, dried mango and powdered sugar. Mix well with a wooden spoon.
  3. Stir in the flour and mix until incorporated. The dough will be stiff and crumbly.
  4. Use a spatula or your fingers to spread the dough into an ungreased 8-inch square baking pan; pat it down firmly.
  5. Bake on a middle shelf 20-25 minutes, until golden on top and lightly browned and firm at the edges. Resist the temptation to overbake.
  6. Cool the pan on a baking rack for several minutes and then use a sharp knife to cut the shortbread into 16 equal-sized squares.
  7. Do not remove the squares yet, they will crumble and fall apart. Let them cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes, then use a narrow spatula to remove them carefully.
  8. We tend to devour them immediately, but you can store the squares, tightly covered, for several days. Freeze for up to 1 month.

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