Another week where I left my homework (this blog) until the last minute and then got myself into a twist about what to do. Was it time to revisit the dreaded crusty Italian loaf, this time with my idol Deb Perelman (smittenkitchen) to guide me? Or to just do a brioche? Maybe I should build a new sourdough starter so I can go back to doing recipes that call for it? I should definitely build a stupid starter. I will do that tonight.
In the end I decided that Dean Brettschneider’s dark beer, walnut and cranberry rolls sounded good, and like something that could be managed on a leisurely Sunday without too much heart-wrenching agony. Then I got to the mall and realised that the liquor store was closed because it was 9am on a Sunday morning and clearly, as stated in their very title, these rolls need a dark beer. Because of course they do, because nothing is easy, not even a voluntary bread blog which you have complete autonomy over.
So I just bought everything except the beer and trusted that everything would be ok and that somehow there would be a different-but-also-quite-similar recipe which would involve the cranberries, walnuts and treacle I’d just purchased.
Dean Brettschneider’s muesli rolls also call for all of the above ingredients, plus a bunch of seeds and similar birdfood substances. A normal person might not have extensive stores of these on-hand, but my commitment to making this life changing loaf of bread means that my cupboard is constantly stocked with rolled oats and assorted seeds.
(as a side note, the life changing loaf of bread is definitely life changing, and one day I will write about it here even though it doesn’t have yeast. If you’re all about that gluten free, health-tastic, holier than thou, “I baked my own superfood loaf” life, then you’ll love it. If you just rejoice in a nice nutty bread then you’ll enjoy it too.)
The process of creating these gave me some Hot Cross Lump flashbacks. Mainly because after you knead the dough you have to somehow fold in all of the flavoury bits, and it always seems like there are far more bits than there is dough and like you will end up with a ball of pepitas and cranberries held together by a skerrick of batter. You don’t. Somehow all of the healthful ingredients nestle into the dough and you get to feel like a superstar.
In fact once all the kneading and nestling is done, these are kind of easy. A lot of leaving them to rise with minimal involvement, then a touch of shaping (really, the slightest touch, you just separate a block of dough into 15 squarish lumps), and then baking.
And the results are pretty yum. The original recipe suggests having these for breakfast with cheese, but I say why restrict yourself to breakfast? These are delicious with cheese for brunch, delicious with cheese for lunch, delicious with cheese for a snack-you-didn’t-need-but-whatever-stop-judging, delicious with cheese to spoil your appetite for dinner and delicious with cheese to prove a weird point for dessert.
Care of Dean Brettschneider’s Bread with slight adaptations
450g strong white bread flour
50g wholemeal flour
40g rolled oats (jumbo was suggested in the original recipe, I used regular)
8g dried yeast (I used a 7g sachet)
10g table salt
20ml olive oil
40g walnut pieces, chopped into small pieces
20g sesame seeds
30g linseeds (flaxseeds) – I just used a 160g seed mix for this, the sunflower and the pumkin seeds
80g sunflower seeds (see above)
80g pumpkin seeds (see above)
40g dried cranberries
40g dried apricots, cut into pieces (I had no apricots and used mixed peel instead)
80g small chocolate drops/chips (optional, I skipped this)
100g rolled oats (again, jumbo or regular) to decorate
Mix together flours, oats, yeast, salt, honey, treacle and water in a large bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon until a rough dough forms, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough for 15 minutes, resting for 1 minute every 2-3 minutes. Add more flour or water if needed, the dough should be supple but firm.
Once your dough is fully kneaded fold in the seeds, nuts and dried fruit. This takes a while but all the fun bits do eventually get dough-ified.
Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Leave to rest for an hour and a half.
Once dough has doubled in size, deflate it by folding it onto itself a few times. Cover it with the damp tea towel again and leave it to prove for another 30 minutes. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Turn dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Dust the dough with flour (you are dusting the part of the dough that was on the bottom while in the bowl). Then, carefully, flip your dough over (floury bit is now on the bench). To be honest I’m not 100% sure what this step achieves, but I’m diligently reproducing it anyway.
Press your dough into a rough rectangle, about 2-3cm high. Using a dough cutter or a knife separate the dough into 15 pieces, each about 7cm square. Brush the top of each piece with water and then sprinkle with oats. Press the oats lightly into the dough so they stick.
Transfer the rolls to the lined baking tray and cover with the damp tea towel. Leave to prove again for 30-45 minutes (depending on the heat of the room). Pre-heat your oven to 230°C/210°C Fan.
Brettschneider recommends cooking these ‘with steam’, which can be done in a couple of ways. The first is spraying the inside of the oven with water when you go to put the rolls in to bake. The second requires you to think ahead – you place a handful of ice into an oven-proof tray/dish in the bottom of the oven, but this needs to be pre-heated. If you are going for option two then add the oven-proof tray/dish to the base of your oven now.
Place your tray in the oven and ensure you have added steam via whatever method you prefer. Close the door quickly and cook for 20-25 minutes. If your oven is a bit uneven then rotate the tray midway through the bake.
Remove rolls from the oven and cool a tray. Then, slather with butter and cheese and enjoy constantly.