A BREAD DOUGH YOU CAN USE FOR EVERYTHING
Lately, I've been mildly obsessed with baking my own bread and not just your basic quick bread: the real stuff with yeast and what not. It always seemed so time-consuming - brioches with 5 steps and 2 rising times, cinnamon buns that proof in the refrigerator overnight, sourdoughs with starters, weighing ingredients, waiting for them to rise....(I hope I haven't talked you out of reading on!)
Well, this recipe is none of those. It's what I call my "universal" bread dough - a simple bread dough that requires only (1) 45-minute rise and can be used to make everything from soft, buttery, fluffy rolls, to cheese-stuffed buns or even pull-apart bread. It's weeknight bread. It's weekend-morning-made-THAT-morning bread. It's guests-are-about-to-arrive bread. It's everything.
I'm going to share the basic recipe and then some thoughts for ways to transform it. I'm still experimenting myself with it...like every few days, so expect some more versions of this on Insta!
Yields 16 rolls
¼ cup lukewarm water
(1) ¾ ounce packet yeast (active dry)
1 cup milk
¼ cup honey
3 tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing and melting
2 teaspoons salt
1 egg, beaten
3 ¾ to 4 cups all purpose or "00" flour*
Flake salt, for sprinkling
I make this recipe in a stand mixer, but you can easily do this by hand. Start with the lukewarm water in the bowl of the stand mixer and sprinkle the packet of yeast over. Mix gently to combine and let sit 5 minutes or so while you prepare the other ingredients.
In a medium pot, bring the milk up to a simmer and add the honey, butter and salt. Simmer for a minute or two, just until the butter melts and remove from the heat.
Add the egg and 3 ¾ cups of flour to the yeast mixture and mix together with a fork. Slowly pour in the milk mixture, using the fork to make a shaggy dough. Using the dough hook attachment (or your hands), knead for about 3-4 minutes. The dough should be soft and a bit tacky but should NOT stick to your hands. If it's sticky, keep adding flour in tablespoon increments until you have the right, non-sticky consistency.
For rolls, divide the dough into 16 even-sized balls and place in a greased, 9-inch cake tin. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 375˚ F.
After the rise, brush the rolls generously with melted butter and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Brush again with butter once out of the oven and sprinkle with a little flake salt. Enjoy hot!
*For the rolls, I used all purpose flour, but for the savoury buns, I used 00 flour, which yielded a more delicate, fluffier texture.
Some fun options:
(1) Before baking, but after brushing with butter, sprinkle with spices! Thing za'atar, an everything bagel spice blend (!!), furikake, simple nigella seeds...
(2) To make the savoury buns, roll out the dough into an 18"x12" rectangle and place it in front of you with one of the longer sides near you (a horizontal rectangle). Mix together a stick of unsalted, room temperature butter with a half packet of softened, Boursin cheese. You could also use regular cream cheese and then add in your own garlic, roasted garlic, chives, other herbs. Spread this mixture all over the dough and sprinkle with a bit of salt. You can also use other cheeses here by themselves or in addition to the cream cheese - mozzarella, a mexican blend....Roll the dough, starting with long side near you to form a cylinder, and then place in the freezer for five to ten minutes to make it easier to cut. Use a serrated knife and cut the rolls into 1 ½-inch thick rolls. Place cut side down in the greased tin. Let rise an hour. Brush with butter and bake at 375˚ F for closer to 40 minutes, until the buns are uniformly golden brown.
(3) For pull apart bread, roll into a 6"x14" rectangle and cut into 12 pieces. Spread the butter / cheese mixture on 11 of the pieces. Stack layers horizontally in a parchment-lined loaf pan, ending with the non-buttered piece to book-end. Cover and let rise. Spread the remaining butter-cheese mixture on top with a sprinkle of salt before baking. Bake at 375˚ F for closer to 35 to 40 minutes until golden brown. Cover towards the end of baking if the cheese is browning too much. (By the way, the photo to the side is a pull-apart cinnamon scone bread, but just wanted to give everyone an idea for what it could look like!)