striding ahead

squash with warts

Saturday and Sunday were striding days, in Tamar Adler's language. Days where I not only caught up on the vegetables languishing in the fridge but actually marched ahead: roasted things, dried things, prepared the beginnings of the week's meals.

beets to be roasted

Beets: roasted them, and rubbed their calloused little skins off.

Squash: didn't peel! Threw them in the hot oven, let them grow tender, then cut them in half, let them cool, and scooped out their sweet insides. Then made Molly's coconut curry squash soup.

Squash seeds: curried, sugared and spiced, and toasted them.

Apples: sliced and dried them, in a just-warm oven, till they curled and crisped.

Chicken: brined, oiled, stuffed, and roasted, atop carrots and potatoes.

And I baked rolls. We make plenty of bread around here, but rarely rolls. They feel so extravagant (why? because they're tiny?), especially smeared with butter and honey. So, I give you rolls, from my favorite bread book.

rolls and sliced kerrygold

Honey Buttermilk Rolls

from The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book

Hear it straight from Laurel's mouth: "This is one of our most beloved recipes. Tender, featherlight, bright-tasting bread that it somehow perfect with any sandwich filling, and devastating (in its subtle way) as toast." And I add: makes chewy, delicious rolls, too.

2 tsp. active dry yeast
1/2 c. warm water

3/4 c. hot water
1/4 c. honey
1 1/4 c. buttermilk (or, as I did, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice + 1 scant cup milk + 1/4 c. yogurt)

5 1/2 c. whole wheat flour**
2 tsp. salt

4 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter

[**Note: Laurel's Kitchen suggests 5 1/2 cups flour or 830 grams. I measured the flour in grams, but the dough felt awfully stiff, and I'm not sure whose measurements are off. But I'd try closer to 4 1/2 or 5 cups next time, adding flour as necessary.]

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water, and let stand 5 to 10 minutes, or until the yeast foams.

Stir together the honey and the hot water. Mix up your buttermilk-in-a-pinch or measure your buttermilk, and add to the honey water. Make sure it's tepid, or you'll kill the yeast.

Stir together the flour and salt in a big bowl, making a divot in the center. Pour the yeast water and the honey-buttermilk mixture into the divot. Combine from the center outwards until all the flour is incorporated.

If you're kneading by hand, go for about 20 minutes. If with a stand mixer and dough hook, only about 5. Just before finishing, knead in bits of cold butter. Don't worry about incorporating them fully; they'll melt in as the dough rises.

Form the dough into a ball and let it sit in a greased bowl with a cloth on top. Find it a cozy corner of your kitchen and let it rest for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until it has doubled. If you press a finger into it and the indentation doesn't fill in, move onto the next step.

Press the air out of the dough, shape it into a ball, and let it rise again. It will only need about half the time.

After the second rise, press it flat, and divide it in two. Set one half aside. Cut the other into quarters, and then each of those into thirds, for a total of 12. Shape each into a small ball with the seam on the bottom, and set them onto a greased cookie sheet. Do the same with the other half of the dough on a second cookie sheet. (You should have 24.)

Cover both sheets with a cloth and let the rolls rise for another half hour or so. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400ºF. (You can let the rolls rise on the stove top if you want–they'll appreciate the heat!) When they've risen, bake them for 15 to 20 minutes. Brush butter on their crowns when they finish baking.

Serve with soup, roasted chicken, or whatever vegetables have strode ahead this week. Or slice some cheese and eat while watching football.

(This post is one in a November series for NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month. You can find the rest here!)

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