Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Pull-apart dinner roll bread

For Thanksgiving, I wanted to have freshly baked pull-apart bread from the bread machine. Finding recipes for this was hard enough that I worried that it wasn't a good idea. It ended up working pretty well, but could still use some tweaking.

I've already blogged about the first time I tried making pull-apart in the machine, using the honey whole-wheat recipe from Hensberger's Bread Machine Cookbook and techniques from the Zojirushi cookbook's weird recipe for "party bread". I also found a recipe for buttery herb-garlic pull-apart bread, which uses a bread machine and gave me the idea of dipping the top of each ball into butter or oil.

I decided to try the same honey whole-wheat recipe, and I planned to dip the bread balls into a mixture of melted butter and olive oil. This time I expected the bread dough to be sticky, and I knew (no thanks to the Zojirushi recipe) to use oiled surfaces when working with it.

I used the program from before, which is a modification of the Zojirushi recommendation:
  • no resting time before starting (instead I warmed the milk and water a bit in the microwave)
  • 20 minutes kneading (though I should probably do 22 minutes, like the whole-wheat cycle does, since the dough is somewhat sticky)
  • shape (up to 1 hour)
  • rise 1: skip
  • rise 2: skip 
  • rise 3: 45 minutes
  • bake: 40 minutes
During the shaping time, here's what I did:
  1. Take the dough out, put it in a ball, then put it into large oiled mixing bowl. (I used olive oil.)
  2. Cover with a damp cloth, and let the dough rise for 20 minutes (probably more like 25 minutes).
  3. While the dough is rising, remove the blades from the bread machine, and wipe out the pan.
  4. Push down the dough, and then shape it into 15 mini-balls, putting them into an oiled casserole dish.
  5. Cover with the damp cloth, and let the dough rise for 10 minutes (probably more like 15 minutes).
  6. Put the mini-balls into the pan of the bread machine. (I squeezed them to get rid of air. That's sort of like kneading.)
  7. Press Start, making the bread machine continue with rise 3.
Good lord, that was nerve wracking. The dough didn't seem to be rising much, and the mini-balls didn't fit as well into the pan as I remembered. I decided not to dip the mini-balls into oil/butter, since they were pretty oil covered already. The recipe does say "This one is a slow riser, so don't despair," so I was guardedly optimistic.

The outcome was pretty good, but interestingly, the dough wasn't as easy to pull apart as the time before. I guess the oil didn't separate the mini-balls like I thought it would.

Thanksgiving day, I tried lengthening the second rise and shortening the third one. (This happened to work out well, since the bastard turkey cooked faster than expected.)

All told, the time to make the bread was just short of 3 hours. Add an hour of bread machine warming (and the uncertainty of turkey cooking), and I could have started the rolls 4 hours before dinner. As it turns out, we had enough fridge space that I was able to do the first rise in the fridge, so I started the bread even earlier.

Using less oil helped the dough be a little easier to pull apart, but it still wasn't as easy as the first time. Perhaps a coating of flour or something else might make the dough-balls easier to pull apart. Ideas, anyone?

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