Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bake The Book: Pesto Rolls

This weekend brought more gloomy weather and pesto rolls! Luckily, we did actually see the sun on Sunday, a welcome site after what seems like weeks of fog and dreariness. And although the sun did finally show itself, it wasn't shining that brightly on my pesto rolls. Ho hum.

Things started off on the right track as I whipped up my pesto. There's nothing like the smell of fresh basil leaves, along with the salty, tangy-ness of
real Parmesan cheese.

I put all the pesto ingredients in the food processor and whizzed them into a paste. A wonderfully smelling paste.

At the same time, my yeast was getting all foamy and bubbly in the bowl of the stand mixer. To it, I added my flour and salt and then made what I now realize was my second mistake of the day...I didn't whisk in the pesto. Somehow I totally skimmed over that part in the directions, so instead I started kneading the dough. Then all of a sudden I realized....uh, when does the pesto go in?
Whoops. So I stopped the mixer and put the pesto in...a little late in the game.

I'm not sure if my incorrect order did it or not, but the dough just didn't rise very much. The directions said to give it an hour to double in size and I gave it two, but it just wasn't looking right. I divided into eight sections and made it into rolls anyway, thinking that maybe it would still be okay.

On the second rise, the rolls didn't do much either. I put them in the oven as is and they seemed to bake fine. However, we ate them with our dinner Sunday night, and of all things...they were salty! And I'm talking, not sure if I can finish a whole roll, salty. I think I used a tablespoon and a half of salt instead of 1 1/2 teaspoons. It makes a BIG difference. My first failure! Between the salt mistake and my pesto mishap, I was all over the place. The basil flavor was good, if you could get past the salt, that is. I think the remainder of these are probably going in the trash.

Recipe #4: Pesto Rolls

Ingredients (with modifications)
2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
3 1/4 cups bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour

1. Combine the basil, olive oil, Parmesan, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in the bowl of a food processor and process until very finely chopped and paste-like.

2. Place the warm water into the bowl of a stand mixture and sprinkle the yeast over the top. By hand, whisk in 1/4 cup flour. Allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes, or until the yeast is activated and looks foamy. Add the pesto and whisk by hand until well blended. Add the remaining 3 cups flour and the 1 teaspoon salt. Add the dough hook and blend on low until the dough begins to come together and form a cohesive mass, about 2 to 3 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 20 minutes to allow it to fully hydrate before further kneading. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and turn the dough over so everything gets mixed evenly. Turn the speed to low and continue to knead until the dough is firm, elastic and smooth, 3 to 6 minutes.

3. Lightly oil a bowl, scrape the dough into the bowl and lightly cost the surface of the dough with a little oil. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Press down on the dough firmly to expel some of the air bubbles, but don't knead the dough again or it will be too springy and difficult to shape. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and shape each one into a taut, round ball. Place the rolls on a prepared baking sheet about 3 inches apart.

5. Cover the rolls loosely with plastic wrap or a cotton towel and let rise until almost doubled in size, 35 to 45 minutes.

6. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and position an oven rack in the center.

7. Remove the plastic wrap or towel and dust the top of the rolls lightly with flour. Use a sharp knife to add a decorative slash or two to the top of each roll. Immediately place the pan in the oven. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until cooked through and the internal temperature registers 200 degrees. Transfer to a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Source: The Art and Soul of Baking



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