Saturday, December 09, 2006
Whole Wheat Rolls
I baked whole wheat rolls today. From scratch. Without a machine. It's been months since I baked them, and now I'm not sure why I waited so long.
Well, I guess I am sure why. They take time. And time is what I have in shortest supply.
I brought my work laptop home this weekend, because we're swamped, and I don't want to get in trouble for missing deadlines. And that made it a perfect day for baking, since I was going to be home anyway. The first rise is two hours, and the second and final rise are each an hour, so that gave me lots of time to get some work done.
My favorite part of baking bread is the kneading. The recipe is from The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book: A Guide to Whole-Grain Breadmaking, and they say to knead for 600 strokes, or about 20 minutes. I count to 600, making tally marks (and getting dough all over the pencil) every 100. I get a rhythm going of pulling the far right corner into the center and then pushing with the heel of both hands. Pull. Push... Pull. Push... Pull. Push... Counting as I go. It's a rhythm that's as natural to me anymore as riding a bike. It's soothing, relaxing. Except when I bump my head on the cabinet. That's not part of the rhythm.
The aroma of yeast and wheat and a touch of honey fills the kitchen.
I don't go for beauty when I form the rolls. I flatten the dough and make it as square as I can, and then I cut it with a knife. When they rise, the rolls round themselves a little into misshapen rectangles, with the line from the cut edges still clear around the top. And after they're baked, the flavor is full and rich and brown.
We make sandwiches out of them, and the meat and cheese stick out from under the bread. It doesn't matter, though, because the rolls are so much better than the store-bought sponges sold as bread. But most of this batch will be going with me to work Thursday for the "Holiday Potluck." Unless I get picked for a trial when I'm at jury duty Monday. If I'm still at court on Thursday, well, then my daughter and I will have to eat the rolls ourselves.