shaping sticky dough

My dinner roll recipe is a very wet dough, so it spends a long time in the fridge.  Once it’s removed from the fridge and I begin working with it, it will become very sticky very quickly.  So, here’s how I shape it:

I prep the work surface and pan before the dough comes out of the fridge.  That means:

  1. The surface is lightly floured, but I have a measuring cup of flour to the side just in case.
  2. I have a pizza cutting wheel next to the surface.
  3. I have the pan next to the surface.

I know I want a dozen-roll dough to be patted out into roughly a 12″ X 9″ rectangle.  So, I use a bench knife to cut a rectangle that size into the center of the floured work surface, as a visual reference.

I don’t fuck around when the dough comes out – I flour my hands, pull the dough out fast and begin stretching/patting the dough into the visual reference area.  There is about a two-minute window before the dough starts sticking to everything, so I don’t focus on exact measurements, just approximating the visual reference.

I use the pizza wheel to slice the dough, and eyeball the cuts to roughly the width and length of my index finger and thumb making an L shape 2″ wide, 4.5″ long.  If you have big hands, measure your L shape before you pull out the dough, and adjust accordingly.

Once the cutting is done, I fold each shape into thirds and place the rolls end-down on the pan.  Even when I work fast, the last pieces shaped will stick more to everything than the first, so I will flour my hands a bit more after shaping half the rolls.

Happy shaping!


dinner rolls and timing

A bakers' dozen of #omnomnom

One of the things I’ve determined when churning out dinner rolls to go with a roasted bird is that the optimal time to put the rolls in the oven is as soon as the bird comes out.  The oven temp will be perfect (325, cranking it up to 350 if using a conventional oven), and for a 20-25 minute bake, the rolls can be pulled from the oven, brushed with softened butter and get a few minutes to cool down while the bird is carved.  The timing just works out well.

This also means that the timing of the dough formation, bulk fermentation and bench rise should be calculated against the time the bird comes out of the oven.  Working backwards, then:

My bird will come out at 3:30pm.

90-minute bench rise takes us to 2:00pm.

15 minutes for shaping takes us to 1:45pm.

360-minute bulk fermentation in the fridge takes us to 7:45am. (This is for sanity’s sake; the dough is horrifying to shape at room temp.)

10 minutes with the dough hook on high speed takes us to 7:35am. (It’s done when the dough cleans itself off the bowl.  You won’t think it will.  It will.)

30-minute autolysis takes us to 7:05am.

5 minutes for scaling out the ingredients and giving it a brief stir to combine takes us to 7:00am.

And 60 minutes to get ingredients up to room temp gives us a 6:00am start time.

For dinner rolls.  6:00am.  But so worth it.  (The photo is from two Thanksgivings ago.  I am particularly thankful on this day for Instagram, since I seem to have deleted the photo from my iPad sometime between then and now!)

The Dough (for 12 rolls)

  • 450g all-purpose flour
  • 4g yeast
  • 7g salt
  • 48g sugar
  • 120g water
  • 240g milk (room temp; buttermilk is also delightful)
  • 1 egg (room temp)
  • 90g butter (room temp); use the remainder of the stick for a post-bake shine

the ten percent solution: brown sugar brine

The Anal Proportion (scale up/down as needed)

  • 1000g water
  • 75g table salt
  • 25g brown sugar

For this bird (12 pound turkey), I mixed 7,500g water with 562g salt and 188g sugar in a garbage bag-lined stock pot (unscented!), dropped the turkey in, closed up the bag and covered the works with a layer of frozen gel packs.  It will brine for 8 hours, get a thorough rinse and pat dry, then come up to room temp.  I’ll rub it down with butter and stuff it with aromatics (onion and sage) before sticking it into The Arsonist at 400 degrees for 60 minutes (breast side down), then 325 degrees for 60 minutes (breast side up).

I don’t have a V-rack.  I have a foil-lined 13″ X 9″ pan with two cooling racks on top.  It does the job.

If you don’t like anal, use:

The Missionary Position (again, scale to suit)

  • 1 gallon water
  • 1c table salt
  • 1/2c brown sugar

the beast is appeased

At least, partially appeased.  Got my act together and put in my AF order; if I don’t expire in a fit of foodie bliss tonight, I will certainly be ready to risk severe artery clogging with a lux mac & cheese tomorrow night.

Full confession: the kids wanted to try a piece, since they dined on other things.  Giving up a shrimp was more difficult than I have words to adequately describe.  I made them clean things first.  I’m a mean mommy.  But damn it, this scampi is GOOD.  Like, impress your boss/your mother-in-law/people who could find fault with Mister-Fucking-Rogers good.  Like, wipe the bowl clean with slices of baguette good.  Definitely like lick the bowl clean if you are avoiding bread for the next 30 days (like I am; more like sacrificing bread on the altar of Maybe-But-I’ll-Get-Back-To-You) good.

Today was not my day, and compleeeetely of my own doing.  Shrimp is in hand, as well as another bottle of the delightful Fume Blanc, but all the cheer has been consumed with pondering.

Didn’t get my Amazon Fresh order in by 10, didn’t want to go to Ralphs/Vons, no parking (as usual!) at Trader Joe’s, decided to fight the traffic on the 405 and head to Lazy Acres.  Everything was fine until I hit the checkout.

As I was swiping my debit card, a question arose in the back of my head.  Do I actually have money in the cash account?  In theory, yes.  In practice, I keep the cash balance low because I can earn 4% or more on high-yield bonds versus 0.10% in interest check–


That answered that question.  But that was fine; I could put in an order to sell a few shares tomor–

“Ma’am, did you just try to use your EBT card?”

“Mmmm, no.”

“Oh.  I just asked because there’s a different amount here on the screen (points)…”

“Nah, I just have to transfer funds from my brokerage account.  I’ll use another card.”

It was only when I got back to the car that I wondered why that was the question…whether I had just used my EBT card to buy:

  • Jumbo prawns, $25.99/lb 
  • Grgich Hills Napa Valley 2013 Fume Blanc, $29.99/bottle
  • Fresh cut fruit container (2), $4.05 and $4.93 respectively
  • Sliced smoked turkey, $2.82 ($11.99/lb)
  • Ahi tuna poke, $16.99/lb 
  • Amy’s Organic Cheese & Pesto Frozen Pizza, $7.92
  • Organic cherry tomatoes, $2.99/pint

Who the fuck buys that kind of stuff on an EBT card?  Someone who enjoys starving most of the month?  When I was on food stamps (19 years ago, when I was issued something resembling Monopoly money), I’d wouldn’t have been in a Lazy Acres type of market generally, let alone blow my $65/month benefit on stuff like that.

Yeah, I have a pretty good inkling why I was asked.  There wasn’t enough Social Justice Warrior in me to get mad at the checkout line, nor in the car, nor now.  I’m just going to eat my poke, sip my wine, place my trade order, and ponder.  Scampi tomorrow, Hubert Keller’s macaroni and cheese the night after.

cooking with whine: shrimp scampi

If I created an evolutionary line of cooking instructional videos, somewhere on the Mars Rover side would be Bruno Albouze (French private chef; expects his viewers to have knife skills), and somewhere on the knuckle-dragging side would be Kathy Maister (American Home Ec Instructor; teaches knife skills).

Which is not a dig, but an acknowledgement that we all have to start somewhere, and that’s where I found myself when reading about cooking (Alton) was not. quite. translating. into. edible. food.  Great production values, great animations, soothing background music, focus on basic techniques and the mise en place.  Kathy has it all, and is well-worth a visit for the recipes long after the need to learn technique has waned.

One of my favorites is her Shrimp Scampi, which I will not recount here but will make tonight (and add a photo, maybe).  Two Buck Chuck is usually the wine of choice, but tonight I will use some of the Fume Blanc, which should be as delightful with shrimp swimming in it as it is straight from the bottle like a damn wino in the glass.

I was going to whine about delayed logistics spoiling dreams of a lovely view and bergamot & grapefuit scented bath bubbles, but the thought of making scampi tonight has brought with it indelible cheer.  Plus, I’m freezing my ass off on the back deck – the now-working furnace beckons.

oatmeal pancakes

The kids love oatmeal.  They also love pancakes.  I love making food I don’t eat, especially when I can geek out.  I see a win/win/win here.

Pancakes could technically be called panmuffins, since you use the Muffin Method of construction: scale dry ingredients in Bowl 1 and mix thoroughly; scale wet ingredients in Bowl 2 and beat to combine; pour Bowl 2 mix into Bowl 1 (not the reverse!), then stir briefly until the dry mix is mostly absorbed, but lumps remain.  

Continue reading