Thursday, May 22, 2008

Crusty French Rolls

Today was one of those days that I just could not focus on my research. On days like this I busy myself in the kitchen. That way, I feel like I am accomplishing all sorts of things without actually doing any real work. This recipe comes from the Country Living magazine website--they've never steered anyone wrong have they? They came out very well, so I am copying the recipe here so I can always have access to it. This recipe makes 10 sandwich-sized rolls, and 14-16 dinner rolls.

- 5 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 1/2 cups warm water
- 6 1/2 cups to 7 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1 tablespoons salt
- 2 tablespoons cornmeal

1. Make the dough: In a large mixing bowl, sprinkle yeast over water and let stand 5 minutes in a warm place. Add 4 cups flour and salt to the yeast mixture. Beat with the paddle of an electric mixer or mix by hand until a soft dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl forms -- about 10 minutes. Let the dough rest 10 minutes. With a dough hook and the mixer running, add remaining flour and knead another 5 minutes. Alternately, work the remaining flour into the dough by kneading for about 10 minutes. Add more water if necessary to form a soft, elastic dough. Form the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl, turning to coat all sides of dough. Cover with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise in a warm place away from drafts until doubled in bulk, up to 2 or more hours. Punch down the risen dough and re-form into a ball. Cover and allow to rise again until doubled in size -- about 1 1/2 hours.

2. Form the rolls: Place a pan filled with hot water on the floor of the oven or on the lowest rack. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into 10 (or 14 or 16) equal pieces. Form each piece into a roll shape and place on a baking pan lightly dusted with cornmeal. Let rolls rise uncovered for 30 minutes.

3. Bake the rolls: Using a razor blade or sharp knife, make a 1/4-inch-deep slash on the top of each roll. Slide the baking sheet into the upper third of the oven and bake until dark golden brown -- about 25 minutes. Transfer the rolls to a wire rack and allow to cool 10 minutes. Store in an airtight container for up to two days or freeze for up to 1 month.