Thursday, January 21, 2016

Classic Dinner Rolls ~

Who doesn't enjoy a good roll?  What with the cold, wet and dreary winter we are having here in Southern California I find myself craving more breads and comfort foods than I have the past few winters which have been much dryer and warmer.  And these rolls are just the thing when you are chilled through and want a nice hearty meal to take the chill away at the end of the day.

This is a classic dinner roll recipe that I've been making for the past twenty years.  It's based on an old version of the Walter Sand's bread recipe that was given out at a King Arthur Flour's baking class that I've adapted to making dinner rolls.  These rolls are wonderful served warm from the oven with butter and they are also great sliced in half to make a delicious kaiser roll for small sandwiches or my favorite treat is to top with cream cheese and lox for a savory brunch item.  I have no doubt these versatile rolls will become a favorite of your family!

Yield ~ 16 dinner rolls

1/2 cups warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons or 1 package active dry yeast
2 tablespoons King Arthur unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon mild flavored honey

1 1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoon granular sugar
1/2 cup dry milk
2 tablespoons softened butter
1 tablespoon kosher salt
51/2 to 6 cups King Arthur unbleached all purpose flour

Poppy seeds

cornmeal to prevent sticking to baking sheet


1.  Make the Sponge:  Warm a bowl with hot water and wipe dry.  Add 1/2 cup warm water and stir in yeast, flour and honey.  Set aside for 10 minutes.  The mixture should be bubbly and foamy.

2.  Make the Dough.  To the sponge add: 1 1/2 cups warm water, sugar, dry milk, butter, salt and 5 1/2 cups flour.  Using a dough hook or large spoon stir mixture until it begins to cling together.

3.  Kneading:  Turn dough out onto a wooden kneading board and place the remaining 1/2 cup flour in a pile next to the dough.   Knead dough until it begins to feel smooth, adding only enough flour to keep it from sticking to the board or your hands, roughly 3 or 4 minutes.  Allow dough to rest while you clean and lightly grease your rising bowl (I use olive oil).  Continue kneading dough another 3 or 4 minutes until it feels smooth and springs back when pinching an ear lob portion of dough.

4.  Rising:  Form dough into a ball and place in greased bowl, turning to oil top.  Cover and place where it will be warm without drafts.  Allow dough to rise until doubled (roughly 1 to 1 1/2 hours).

5.  Shaping:  Knock dough down and divide dough in half until you have 16 equal pieces of dough.  Form each piece into simple round rolls or roll in hands to make a long rope and twist into desired shape (link to a youtube video demonstrating how to form rolls).

6.  Final Rise:  Prepare 2 baking sheets by covering with cornmeal or poppy seeds to prevent sticking.  Place rolls on baking sheets and cover with either a floured linen cloth (flour rubbed into the linen prevents the rolls from sticking to the linen and also removes moisture) or a lightly oiled plastic wrap. Allow rolls to rise 1 hour.

7.  Baking: At least 15 minute prior to baking preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Just before baking mist rolls with water and sprinkle with poppy seeds.  Bake approximately 15 to 18 minutes or until centers of rolls read 190 F on an instant read thermometer or when rolls sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.  The tops should be lightly browned.  I usually bake each tray of rolls separately.

As an additional bonus leftover rolls freeze well!

Loosely adapted from the Walter Sands bread recipe in the King Arthur Cookbook.

Until next time, be well, love well and why not live large this weekend and enjoy a hot roll ;)

Simcha on top of the world enjoying a morning hike with his mommy.  No cold weather will keep him inside and aside from comfort food I've rediscovered the comforts of wearing long underwear!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Glacerie Shawl and Still a Puppy at Heart

It has been a "knitters winter" here in Southern California.  Not only are we having fr-fr-freezing cold temperatures but starting in January the long promised El Nino rains arrived.  Which is just as well for the meteorologist who predicted (and coined the phrase) a "Monster El Nino" event was coming to a drought weary Southern California.  Poor man.  By December there were more than a few skeptics wondering where his so called El Nino rains were.  I saw him being interviewed and he said he feared that he would have to enter the government's witness protection program if the rains did not materialize, people would be that disappointed.  But his fears are over because rainy days are definitely here now and with it lots of opportunities to wear hand knit shawls, hats, socks and sweaters!  A knitter's winter in Southern California.  At long last.

Normally I just wear my hand knits on early morning hikes with Simcha but with the colder days I've been wearing my knits while out shopping and visiting the farmer's market, etc.  I find it amusing when I'm chatting to someone and I'll notice that their eyes are wandering and it's not that their eyes have drifted to my breasts either.  No, instead I can see their eyes are perusing my shawl or hat or whatever hand knit I'm wearing. Sometimes they'll comment on it and sometimes not.  But if they do compliment what I'm wearing then I'm always quick to assure them that it's super easy to knit and a fabulous life long hobby and send them off inspired to visit their nearest yarn shop.

Whoops!  I almost forgot to mention that I'm wearing my Glacerie shawl in this post.  Too funny.  I'm just so excited about the rain!  But I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I couldn't be happier with this gorgeous shawl.  Paired with a lofty yarn it makes a cozy shawl perfect for a cooler Southern California winter.  Although we did not take the picture this way (I wanted to show the design off) I love to wear it wrapped around my neck like a cowl which makes it into a dramatic and fabulous accent piece.

Particulars:  Glacerie Shawl designed by the very talented Hilary Smith Callis (blog: TheYarniad); US7 needles; 2 skeins Old Maiden Aunt Organic Corriedale (sport weight).  My only modification was to substitute the method of increases from a traditional "Make One" increase to a lesser known method of knitting into the back of the loop of the stitch below where you wish to add an increase, which I found easier to execute.  Post "relaxed" blocked measurement: 56" x 21.5."  If you wish to see another design by Hilary that I've blogged check out her super popular Stardust Cowl (that I adore!).

Beautiful raindrops collecting on my juniper plant!

Still a Puppy at Heart

Although Simcha may look like a mature dog he is actually still very much a puppy at heart which I had forgotten, until recently reminded.  It happened like this.  Over the years Simcha has had innumerable toys and some have lasted better than others but usually there are a few scattered about the house until their condition deteriorates to the point they must be disposed of.  Without giving it much thought recently his toys had one by one been removed to the dustbin without being replaced. But then I began to notice that Simcha seemed "down" and not his normal cheery self.  No kisses in the mornings, no galloping about the house, and no happy tail wags on hikes.  At first I thought it was age or maybe he wasn't feeling well. But then it dawned on me.  He didn't have any toys to play with.  I immediately went to the closet and scrounged up a toy and like magic he was a puppy again.  His changed attitude was dramatic and clearly linked to having a toy to play with.  As you can imagine I felt just awful that I had allowed this to happen by sheer oversight and not appreciating how important his toys were to his happiness.  I'll never again underestimate how important toys and playing are to him.

Until next time be well, love well and make time for the people and pets that you share your life with. Lastly, don't forget the importance of play time and sharing activities that they enjoy doing..... Tug of War anyone?