Knotted Rolls

I found this recipe for knotted rolls and was instantly intimidated.  Proofing yeast is by far my Achilles heel when it comes to being in the kitchen.  I made them anyway and realized they actual weren’t difficult at all.  The recipe said it is harder to explain how to make them than to actually make them, and I am finding that to be true.  Sprinkle the tops with poppy seeds, sesame seeds or something else delicious.  I served them with a herbed compound butter–a fancy way of saying I mixed softened butter, salt and thyme together in a bowl and then popped it back in the fridge until I was ready to serve it.

Makes 18 rolls/Adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine

For the dough

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk, more as needed
  • 1 packed (1/4 oz.) dry active yeast
  • 1 oz. (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 1/4 cups unbleached bread flour, more as needed
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons table salt
  • 1 large egg

For shaping and baking

  • Vegetable oil spray
  • 1 large egg
  • Poppy seeds or sesame seeds for sprinkling

Make the dough

In a small saucepan, heat the milk until lukewarm (95 degrees).  Remove from heat whisk in the yeast until it dissolves.  Add the oil and butter, and then whisk in the sugar.  Let rest until the yeast just begins to float to the surface, about 5 minutes.

In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a large bowl), combine the flour, salt and egg.  Add the yeast mixture and mix on low-speed (or with a large spoon) until a coarse ball of dough forms, about 1 minute.  Let rest for 5 minutes.

Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook and mix on medium-low speed (or knead by hand on a lightly oiled work surface) until the dough feels soft and pliable, about 3 minutes.  Fine Cooking said it should “feel tacky but not sticky.”  If the dough is too sticky, add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time.  If the dough is too dry, add 1 tablespoon of milk at a time.

Rub a little vegetable oil on a work surface and put the dough on this spot.  Stretch and fold the dough over itself from all four sides to the center, to form a tight and round ball.

Put the dough seam side down in a lightly oiled bowl that’s twice the size of the dough.  Tightly cover with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature until it has doubled in size, about 90 minutes.

Shape the rolls

Line two 13 by 18-inch baking sheets with parchment or nonstick baking liners, and lightly mist them with vegetable spray.  Using a knife, divide the dough into 18 equal pieces.

With your hands, roll one piece of dough into a 12-inch-long rope.

If the dough sticks at any time, mist your work surface with vegetable spray; don’t use flour.  Wrap the dough around your fingers into a loose knot; there should be about two inches of rope at each end.

Wrap the right end down and under the loop.  Lightly squeeze the two ends together to secure them.

Let the rolls sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour until they begin to swell.

Position the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.  Heat it to 400 degrees.  Thoroughly whisk the egg with 1 tablespoon of water and brush over each roll.  Sprinkle the poppy or sesame seeds over the rolls at this time.

While the oven heats, let the rolls continue to rise at room temperature for 20 to 40 more minutes.  They should be 1 1/2-2 times their original size when they go into the oven.  Once they are in the oven they will rise about 20 percent more.

Put the baking sheets with the rolls in the oven and bake for six minutes.  Rotate the sheets 180 degrees, and swap their placement on the racks.  Continue baking the rolls until they turn golden brown, another 6 to 8 minutes.  Let the rolls cool on sheets when they are done.

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