Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Sense of Well-being

There is something elemental about kneading bread. To feel the bread move under your hands as they gently work it to a smooth elasticity. The smell of yeast as it takes hold and works its chemical magic. My journey with bread began, as did so many other adventures in cooking, in my early to mid-teens. I started with simple breads and worked my way up to coffee cakes. In my late teens I became more adventurous developing my skills and expanding my repertoire. By my early twenties I had been introduced to breads from many countries, including Brioche, which became my god. Tremendous satisfaction was derived from the baking of bread and to this day, a sense of well-being and all’s-right-with-the-world envelops me every time I place a loaf of freshly baked bread on the counter to cool.

We still eat mostly homemade bread, but the pace of life and the crush of responsibilities and obligations (work) do not often permit me the luxury of the joy of kneading. Now, I use a bread machine. Bella grew up eating homemade bread, and yes, it came from a bread machine. Even so, this bread was vastly superior to its commercially produced relations. Call it cheating, betrayal, whatever you want, but it was still homemade and it was still delicious!
Perhaps when retirement comes my way, I will once again find myself with the time to feel the dough move beneath my hands. Until then, I will happily use my bread machine to create the rolls, breads, and coffee cakes my family loves.

Quick Tarragon Rolls

2-1/2 c. bread flour
2-1/4 tsp. instant yeast (1 pkg. yeast)
2 Tbsp. parsley, finely chopped
2 tsp. dried tarragon, crushed
¼ tsp. celery seed
1 c. water
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg

Combine all ingredients in work bowl of bread machine. Set to dough cycle. Watch while mixing and add enough flour to create a smooth and elastic dough.

While cycle is running, grease regular sized muffin cups and set aside.

When the cycle has completed divide dough into 12 equal portions. Shape into rounded balls and place into the greased muffin cups.

Fill a 9x13 inch pan with about ½ inch of boiling water. Set a wire rack over the top of the pan. Place the filled muffin tin on top of the rack, cover with a towel. Let rise until nearly double (20 to 30 minutes). Preheat oven to 375 and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until muffins are golden.

Place on a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Remove rolls from muffin tin to wire rack and cool completely.
12 rolls

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