Recipe adopted from The Science of Good Cooking.
my new cookbook! In search of more yeast bread recipes, I went straight towards the bread section and landed on a recipe for rustic dinner rolls. The book explains that most artisan bakeries achieve that tough crust, that we all know and love, through high-temperature steam-injecting ovens. To overcome the fact that home bakers don't have this luxury, they used a wet dough combined with spraying the rolls right before they make it into a 500 degree oven, instead. Since these rolls have a softer dough than most, it's important to handle them carefully before they're baked, rather than kneading them out individually - as is usually done. And the result? Rustic looking (go figure, eh?) rolls with a crusty, chewy outside and a soft, flavorful interior. Sure, there's a bit of waiting involved before they make it into the oven, but the easy-to-make dough and end result both make it worth it.
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon water, room temperature
2 teaspoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
15 1/3 ounces (~3 cups plus 1 tablespoon) bread flour
7/8 ounces (~3 tablespoons) whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Whisk the water, honey, and yeast together in a stand mixer bowl until the honey's incorporated. Add the flours, and mix on low using a dough attachment for 3 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for 30 minutes.
Sprinkle the salt over the dough and knead on low for another 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium, and knead for another minute. Cover with plastic and let rise for an hour, or until doubled in size.
Gently fold the dough over itself three times (from top to bottom, left to right, and top to bottom again). Cover and let rise for 30 minutes. Repeat this gentle folding process, cover, and let rise another 30 minutes.
Grease two 9-inch round cake pans [cake pans are used initially to prevent the softer-than-usual rolls from spreading too much]. Lightly flour a clean work area, and transfer the dough to the surface. Lightly sprinkle with more flour, and then cut the dough in half using a bench scraper. Stretch each half into a 16-inch log, and cut into 8 equal pieces. Coat each roll with flour, tap off excess, and transfer rolls to the pans (8 per pan, equally spaced). Cover one last time, and preheat the oven to 500° F.
Once the dough has risen and the oven is up to temperature [using your oven thermometer, of course], spray the rolls lightly with water, and bake for 10 minutes, or until a light brown. Remove the rolls and reduce the oven temperature to 400° F. Transfer rolls from the two round pans to one rimed cookie sheet, and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until deep brown in color.
Transfer rolls to a cooling rack and let cool for one hour before serving. If you wish to keep these for a future date, you can let the rolls come to room temperature, transfer to a freezer bag, and freeze.