I love to bake bread. There’s something about kneading dough by hand and then watching it patiently to grow and come alive. It amazes me every time. I know so many people are afraid of yeast breads, but I’ve found there are a few things you can do to guarantee that your bread will turn out alright. Of course there is a lot more to making good bread but these are just a few small tips that made a big difference for me, I hope they help you too.
The first is, if you’re kneading by hand, keep kneading. I’ve heard of over kneading bread, but I’ve never experienced it, and I kind of think it’s a product of machines kneading bread for us. I doubt your arms will let you over knead. You want to knead till you can look at the underside of your bread and not see little rips and tears in the gluten. The underside should be really smooth.
Second, is wait. My kitchen seems to be a lot colder than the kitchens of most bread baking cookbook writers. Don’t assume your bread is done rising at 2 hours because that’s what the book says. You need to poke it about an inch into the dough and if it springs back just leave it be. The hole should very slowly fill in, or not fill in at all. This means your bread has doubled(or for some recipes even tripled).
Third, don’t rush your dough. I made the mistake many times of putting my dough in a very warm place to rise to rush it along. And it never tastes as good. Patience leads to much better tasting bread. I’m just a beginner and hopefully I’ll have more tips to share as I learn.
Cajun French Quarter Rolls
Adapted from Bread for all Seasons
- 1 tbsp active dry yeast
- pinch of sugar
- 1 3/4 C warm water
- 1 C plain yogurt
- 2 1/2 C whole wheat flour(the original recipe called for white bread flour)
- 2 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 1/4-3 1/2 C bread flour
Cajun Spice Mixture:
- 1 1/2 tsp each: Garlic powder, onion powder, sweet paprika, black pepper and cayenne or red chili powder
- 3/4 tsp thyme and oregano
- pinch of allspice and mace
Mix the sponge and let stand 4-6 hours or up to one day in the fridge.
Add salt and 1/2 cup of flour to the sponge and mix well and then proceed to mix in 1/2 cup of flour at a time till a dough forms. Turn out and knead till smooth and elastic not adding too much flour. Let rise two hours, or till tripled.
Meanwhile, mix together the spice mixture. I only used a pinch of cayenne and it was a nice heat. If you know how hot your spices are you can adjust to your liking. Sprinkle your work surface with one tablespoon of the mixture and turn out the dough. Pat it into a 10″x18″ rectangle and sprinkle with one tablespoon more of the spice mixture. Fold the two long edges into the center to meet and sprinkle the remaining spice over it. Fold in half lengthwise and punch the seems together I roll out the log to 30″ long. Cut in half and then cut each piece into 3″ sections to make 5 rolls. Set 10 rolls on a greased sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Let rise 30 minutes or till doubled.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. I like to put a pan of water in the bottom to create a steamy oven. I also spritz the rolls with water before I put them in the oven, and then once ever couple minutes for the first 5 or so. This helps them grow and helps the crust become nice a chewy. Slash each roll in 1-2 places, 1/4″ deep or less. Bake 20-25 minutes till golden. Serve warm.
Submitted to Yeastspotting