Friday, March 18, 2011

Herbed Asiago Rolls...

I pulled out one of our favorite go-to biscuit recipes the other day to make for dinner the next night, but when I thought more about what we were going to be having them with, I decided to switch it up and try out these sturdier Herbed Asiago Rolls instead.

If you were to look up the original recipe, you would notice the ingredients are pretty similar, yet the directions take a different turn. I've been using instant yeast for years - I buy them in two pound blocks, then store them in the deep freeze until I need to use the tiny granules. This yeast has the lovely benefit of not having to be activated by soaking in warm water first - all you need to do is whisk it right into the dry ingredients.

If you'd rather use active-dry yeast, which is what the recipe called for to begin with, swish the yeast around in the warm water (not too hot now! You should be aiming for 100 to 110 degrees) called for, along with a tablespoon of the honey. Let the mixture sit for five to ten minutes - the yeast should start to look bubbly and a little foamy. If it doesn't, toss it away and try again - if it fails again, the yeast is more likely too old and you should find another batch.

Oregano, basil, crushed fennel seeds and a touch of cayenne pepper make up the seasonings of choice in these speckled rolls, added right into the flour mixture before you begin needing. Also added to those ingredients? The shreds of Asiago cheese! Not all of the amount though, you'll see where the rest goes shortly. I love to feel the essence of the dough as it changes from a shaggy mess into a smooth, slightly tacky ball - however, you could just as well use a stand mixer if you like. Toss the ingredients into your mixing bowl and let the mixer rip, using the dough hook attachment - depending on your mixer, it will probably take 4 to 7 minutes or so on speed two or three.

After the kneaded dough has rested and risen, the mass is whittled down into twelve portions, with each made into a tight ball - this is done simply by using slight pressure from the palm of your hands while rolling it on the countertop. If you find that the dough needs a little grip on the work surface to do this successfully, give the surface a light spritz with water and that should do the trick. Arranged on a baking sheet and covered to rise once more, just before sliding the puffy dough balls into the a roaring oven, the rounds are topped off with a shower of the same cheese we kneaded inside.

Taking less than twenty minutes to bake into golden browned rolls, as hard as it was, we did let them rest for another ten before grabbing a couple each. Soft, yet equally chewy with a cheesy crust, the robustness of the herbs was captivating and seemed to penetrate throughout every crumb. I had wondered if the cheese would melt into the background and fade away, but both of us found its sharp bite lingering on our tongue, making its presence known and enjoyed.

If you have extra time, you could prepare these a couple weeks ahead of time - let them cool completely, set them in the freezer until they are frozen and then wrap them up tightly. Let them thaw at room temperature and you are good to go! You could rewarm them if you like by wrapping them in foil and tossing 'em in a heated oven for 5 to 10 minutes, but the few we froze and thawed were well received left at room temperature.


  1. asiago is one of my fave flavors. these sound awesome!

  2. they look tasty! They would never last around here to go into the freezer.

  3. Tia - We always have a big block of it in the fridge!

    Christina - Thanks!

  4. I too love to feel the dough go from shaggy to smooth and velvety(?) may be a little more work but very satisfying.

  5. PamC - I agree, a little extra work, but very worth it!

  6. These sound delicious. I have to ask, was it Jeff's idea for the first picture to have the rolls in the shape of Mickey Mouse? :-)