Sunday, April 26, 2009

Parmesan Bread - An Easy Piece of Kitchen Alchemy

I have always been a bit scared of making bread. The alchemy of yeast and water and flour seems as impressive and mysterious to me as conjuring a rabbit out of a hat. However the February issue of Gourmet magazine from the US seduced me completely with a cover of varied rolls looking amazingly beautiful (check out the image at the bottom). Even better the recipes seemed remarkably achievable. I decided to opt for what appeared to be the easiest of them - no kneading and no hassling, just time. This seems to be one of the joys of bread - do a bit then disappear for a few hours, then do a bit more. My timings were not dictated by the recipe - the resting at each stage was at least an hour longer than the recipe called for (busy day and out of the house for most of it). But the scant attention I paid to the dough was amply rewarded with beautiful fresh bread - cheesy and delicious.

And I managed to get through this post without a single bread pun as well.... but I can tell you it was tempting.

Parmesan Pull-Aparts
Makes1 dozen rolls
Active time:35 min
Start to finish:4 3/4 hr (includes rising) - I would have taken 6+ hours
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon mild honey or sugar
2/3 cup warm milk (105–115°F), divided
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus 2 Tbsp for sprinkling
1 1/4 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 1/3 oz)
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into Tbsp pieces and softened
1 tablespoon water

Stir together yeast, honey, and 1/3 cup warm milk in mixer bowl and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn't foam, start over with new yeast.) Whisk together flour (2 1/2 cups), cheese, and salt, with a paddle attachement on a stand mixer, then mix into yeast mixture along with remaining 1/3 cup warm milk at low speed. Increase speed to medium and beat in 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat, scraping down side of bowl occasionally, until a very soft dough forms, about 3 minutes. Beat in butter, 1 Tbsp at a time, until dough is elastic, about 2 minutes. (Dough will be very sticky.)

Scrape dough into center of bowl and sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbsp flour. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Punch down dough (do not knead) and turn out onto a floured surface. Cut dough into 12 equal pieces and roll each into a ball by cupping your hand and pushing dough against work surface as you roll in a circular motion. Arrange rolls 1 inch apart in a buttered 9- by 2-inch round cake pan and cover with a kitchen towel (not terry cloth). Let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled and dough fills pan, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.
Whisk together remaining egg with water and brush on tops of rolls. (You will have leftover egg wash.) Bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Loosen edges of rolls from pan with a sharp knife and invert rolls onto a rack, then reinvert and cool at least 20 minutes.

Cooks’ note: Rolls are best the day they're made but can be frozen (cool completely, then wrap well) 1 month. Thaw, then reheat on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven until warmed through, 5 to 10 minutes.


Anonymous said...

Congrats on the no pun-age!

This looks wonderful. The only bread I make is challah every friday. I need to branch out!

;) amy

Foodie with Little Thyme! said...

Looks great. They would be great to have with our dinner tonight.

Debinhawaii said...

I have always been scared of yeast and making bread but these look so good that I might have to try them!

Summer said...

I loved this issue. I made the wheat top knot rolls. I'll have to try these, they look amazing. You should try the roasted pork loin from that issue too, it's amazing.

Coco said...

Thanks for the comment! The Parmesan Bread looks delicious and I am certainly going to give it a try since I am working on honing my yeasty skills:) Have you tried the famous no-knead bread? Let me know if you want to, as I have some great pointers from an issue of Cooks Illustrated.