Yesterday was the kickoff to my second “Two Week Technique.” For the next two weeks, I will be teaching myself all about the art of making and baking dough!
Several months ago, I told my mom I wanted to make some bread and her response had been, “Don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t turn out well the first time.” At the time, I had zilch for cooking skills and decided to put my bread dreams on hold. Now I feel comfortable enough wandering into a doughier territory.
I opted to start with some dinner rolls from my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. As I started the prep work, I knew just a few simple things about bread and dough-making: you need yeast to make the dough rise, kneading is important, and dough needs time to rise. However, what I did NOT know was that the temperature of the liquid being mixed in with the flour can be too cold to activate the yeast or too hot, which will kill the yeast. Therefore, when I read that my mixture of butter, milk, and sugar needed to be between 120 and 130 degrees, I took it with a grain of salt. In fact, I didn’t understand the importance of the temperature until after my batch of rolls had finished baking. I simply waited for the butter to almost completely melt, and that’s when I added the mixture to the flour.
After what I have dubbed “The World’s Greatest Arm Workout,” I had a big ball of dough.
I transferred the dough ball into a greased bowl and let it sit. I was pathetically excited to check on it every ten minutes to see if it had grown any. Like watching a pregnant woman’s belly over time.
An hour later, my dough ball had doubled in size. The recipe instructed to “punch” the dough down–I hadn’t expected that the whole thing would deflate! Then, I moved it to my floured surface and divided it in two.
After some more time rising, I divided the dough into 16 miniature dough balls. Then they had to rise another half an hour and I finally slid them into the oven. While I waited, very nervously, I piled some things on top of my cat. (Please don’t panic, he doesn’t mind it one bit. He purred and stared at me lovingly the entire time.)
Twelve minutes later, this is what came out of my oven:
While they were still piping hot, there was no way I wasn’t trying one. Despite my complete ignorance to the whole temperature-of-the-liquid thing, I managed to make some of the GREATEST dinner rolls I have ever tasted. Tonight, I served them with some garlic Parmesan-Romano chicken and broccoli.
So. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the highest, my confidence level for my two weeks of dough-makin’ is a freaking 11. Next up, I will tackle something that has always been a personal struggle: pizza dough. The only pizza dough I’ve ever made is the kind that comes in a Jiffy box, so I’m going to test my skills at the real deal. Can’t wait!