Rise to the Top
If you're anything like me, you love bread but not just any bread, good bread. Sure, it takes a bit of time to make your own bread, and the bread you buy in most stores is tasty, BUT... there's a trade-off; store bought bread is usually filled with additives and preservatives that have been linked to cancer and countless other horrible health conditions. I'm going to say something to date myself here, but I need to make a point; before the turn of the century not many people were dying of heart disease, cancer, and other chronic illnesses; we must ask ourselves what has changed in between now and then? The short answer is food; yes food has changed dramatically since I was a child in the 70's. Not only has food itself changed, the way we approach food as a nation has morphed from being a source of nourishment, to being a source of comfort and indulgence. As a result, we have become a nation plagued with lifestyle related diseases; overindulging in processed foods. Where we have saved in time and convenience, we have paid with our health and in some cases, with our lives.
I will step down off of my soapbox and get to the point of this article, delicious homemade sub rolls. Now before you say, "Dee-Dee, this seems challenging and intimidating.", allow me to let you in on a little secret; this was only my second attempt at making homemade sub rolls and it was really simple, so relax; you're in good hands. I searched and searched the internet for a recipe that was simple and to the point. I came across an article that had a picture of three beautiful loaves; it was almost too good to be true, and sadly, it was. I followed the recipe to the letter and ended up with a product that was less than spectacular and a far cry from what the picture looked like. I was beyond disappointed because this was not the first time I had tried a recipe from the internet that was misleading. I must take some responsibility here because after working in a bakery for a while and having my own cupcake business, I should have known by looking at the picture that the bread shown was commercially made. Anyway, enough sulking; on to the modified, and tasty recipe I created :).
The key to a soft bread is a tender crumb. A tender crumb is established when you find that find balance between moisture content and developing your gluten. Now you may be asking me what in the world I'm talking about; gluten is the protein found in flour that helps give it structure. Developed gluten, the correct amount of moisture, and yeast all play a vital role in the creation of a roll that will rival that of any professional baker.
Before I get to the recipe, I wanted to impress upon you the importance of following the instructions to the letter, as bread can be a bit tempermental; one wrong turn and you could end up with not so great results. Also, keep in mind that your bread has no preservatives, so it should be consumed within two days of making. You ready? Here we go!
1 tbsp granulated sugar or honey
1 3/4 cups very warm tap water
1 package of active yeast
2 3/4 bread flour (sift before measuring)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp all purpose flour for kneading
In a glass measuring cup, add warm water and sugar or honey and give a quick stir. Sprinkle yeast on top and let stand until yeast starts to foam. After 20 minutes the yeast should develop a head like poured beer. Pour yeast mixture into a large mixing bowl and fold in flour one cup at a time. After folding in the first two cups of flour, add salt and remaining flour, combine, and let stand for 15 minutes. Set a kitchen timer for 4 minutes and 30 seconds, then knead dough by hand until timer stops. Oil the interior surface of a glass bowl, transfer dough, cover with saran wrap, and place in a very warm place and allow dough to triple in size. Sprinkle a clean, dry surface with 2 tbsp of flour, turn dough out onto surface and knead for a maximum of five times. cut dough into four equal parts and form into sub rolls.
Preheat oven to 350°
Place a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet and spray with a non stick spray. Use a clean bottle filled with water or a pastry brush to wet the tops of the rolls with water and sprinkle with oats. Cover with damp towel, place in warmest part of the house, and allow to rise until rolls have doubled in size. Uncover rolls, place in oven, and bake for 21 minutes, or until the tops of the bread begins to brown. Remove from oven, let cool, and store in an airtight container at room temperature. Bread should keep up to three days.