Saturday, April 18, 2009

Rye Dinner Rolls with a twist...

We are down to a short two weeks away before Jeff and I will be walking in the 35th annual 5 mile walk to support the Animal Humane Society in memory of Spike who we lost last year. This is such a fantastic organization that takes care of almost 40,000 animals a year!

I can't say thank you enough to all of you who have generously donated so far! As Team Gus, we have almost reached our goal of $1000... we are hoping to reach and maybe even surpass our goal, so any further donations, small or large, would be greatly appreciated! If you would like to support us, please check out our donation site!

Jeff loves rye bread and while I have plenty of the flour in the pantry, its been awhile since I've made good use of it. I thought it would be nice to work that flavor into a dinner roll and I was especially intrigued when I spotted a recipe for these Rye Dinner Rolls with Crisp Tops.

There isn't anything more much relaxing to me than getting lost in kneading a mound of dough - pushing, pulling and feeling the change on my fingers as it transforms from a rough shaggy mass of flour into a smooth dough. For these rolls, the dough is a combination of all-purpose flour for strength and just enough rye flour to work in its unique taste. Since I pretty much always rely on instant yeast, just as I call for here, I don't bother proofing it beforehand. However, if you are using active-dry and wish to do this, mix the yeast with about a quarter of the warm water called for, along with the sugar for the yeast to feed on. The dough should be supple and tacky when it is ready - if it ends up feeling too dry, you can work in extra water, but it does get a little messy that way.

Once the dough had risen, we divided it into 16 equal portions and rolled each into a tight ball. A scale is good for this to ensure the balls are the same size, but if you don't have one, just divide the dough into quarters and then quarter each hunk. Now, as these rolls rise for a second time, the intriguing part finally comes in!

While I'm sure these would be tasty as is, a fun flare is added by topping them off with a homemade rye cracker before going into the oven to bake! The cracker is simply prepared by combining all-purpose flour, rye flour, salt, water and a touch of olive oil. This mixture comes together in a snap and isn't kneaded like the above - just worked together enough to smooth it out. Divided into 16 pieces like the rolls, each piece of this dough is just flattened and rolled out into a thin round. Don't strive for perfection here, you want them thin and round, but not perfect like they've been stamped out - release your inner rustic being! Once you have a mess of the rounds done, each is brushed with a beaten egg white and left to dry while the rolls finish rising - the white stiffens them slightly so they don't fall flat on the roll.

To attach the raw cracker to the roll, the dough balls are brushed with the leftover egg white and the rounds are laid on top. I thought that the cracker may end up getting too dark by the time the roll had cooked through, but they both took on a lovely golden hue. The cracker was crisp and while the roll had a crusty exterior, it still had a nice, soft texture on the inside.

So, while that was good and all, they didn't have as much as a rye flavor to them as I hoped they would. I knew it was going to be iffy because there wasn't much rye flour used in the first place, but I was still hoping the rye would come through a bit more than it did. That doesn't mean that they were bad by any means, in fact, if I didn't know they were supposed to be a rye roll in the first place, I probably would have liked them even more! The idea about using a cracker on top certainly gets bonus points if nothing else.

1 comment:

  1. Rye dinner rolls with crisp tops?? Sounds totlaly delicious. I love rye to begin with, but having that crusty top to the roll sounds even more amazing. Great recipe!