Saturday, February 19, 2022

Easy Fresh-Baked Bread from Frozen Rolls

I know it sounds weird, but I associate a loaf of fresh bread
with the same joy and satisfaction of holding a newborn. 

My doctor tells me I have a gene that must be very French. Why? My three weaknesses are bread, wine and chocolate. None, of course, diminish weight or waist (or wait and waste!). And good bread needs good butter. Quality butter is not sold in "sticks" like cigarettes. It is sold in a block. A big fat beautiful block of fat! My favorite is, of course, French: "Président." It's a bit saltier than other brands which pairs well with a fresh yeasty-fermented bread. My second choice is Plugra. I avoid Kerry Gold. It's too expensive for what it is supposed to be ... but is not.

Today, many grocery stores bake their own bread not prepared from scratch. Instead, it is baked from dough that has been prepared somewhere else and then frozen and shaped. The destination store will thaw it and proof it in large steam ovens. Then bake it. Easy peasy. Most is pretty good. Very good, in fact. But it will cost you because of shipping!

Some stores bake only a few loaves for just the aroma ... Yes, it's true. Customers go crazy . . . But a lot of bread sold in grocery-store bakeries, which includes rolls, etc., is simply shipped frozen and then put on the shelf to thaw.

The last grocery store I worked for, Publix, actually creates bread from scratch. Now, that is unusual! It results in some incredible bread but, more importantly, it saves on shipping costs! For a while, I was obsessed with my store's rye bread! Because I worked in the deli, right next to the bakery, I could put aside a fresh loaf and have it wrapped in a special bag the preserved the crispiness of the crust! How spoiled was I?

Unlike biscuits, these are not really flaky; instead, they are
light and airy. And, unlike biscuits, they have
that great yeasty taste! 

Early in the morning, one could hear bakers slapping the dough against large wooden counters with iron legs. Several times a week, 50-75-pound bags of bread flour are delivered. 

A loaf of "artisan" frozen bread is now hovering between four to five bucks a loaf! I don't think so. Even at three bucks, I tend to walk away. I wish they would just sell the frozen dough. Sometimes, if you ask the bakery department, they will sell it to you that way ... but don't expect a discount because you have to thaw and bake it yourself.

Prior to the star appearance of artisan loves of bread in a grocery store, I often made my own!  Seriously, it is not that difficult. I use what is called a "poolish" (rhymes with POO-LEASH) and the work is evenly divided between evening and the following morning, making it less complicated and strenuous. It's a great weekend project, and if you or your family has never had homemade bread ... OMG .. y'all are in for a real life-changing experience and you will finally discover the "goddess" distinction you always craved as matron of your home.

I thought of purchasing a bread machine ... but ...  for one loaf a week ... do I really need to go that route? And the consensus seems to be ... use the machine to mix the dough ... but NOT to bake it. So, really, what's the point?

I have a counter mixer with a bread hook, but I still have not used it. Soon, I will have no choice even though it is yet another "contraption" to clutter my limited counter and cabinet space.

Several weeks ago, I found this bag of "dough" in the frozen section of biscuits and rolls and decided to give it a try. The price was certainly right--Less than four bucks!!!

I created my own directions and  put three of the frozen rolls into a greased, small dish, sprayed them with some olive oil, and allowed them to rise. Then I baked them. Wow! They were incredible. Why? It was their distinct yeasty taste. When I was young, I made bread using "cakes" of fresh yeast which are now impossible to find. This had that incredible, old-world, iconic taste! Nice crust. Fluffy interior. 

A communion, a trinity. Perfect with breakfast!
And they sop up egg yolks so well . . .

Today, I just bought my third bag for $2.99 ... But it was raised to 3.69 ... (but on sale.") Still, this is a great bargain! I can get a good two loaves from each bag and then some. It will depend on your loaf pan. I use glass, 7.5 x 3.5 inches. You can use any size pan you want. Be creative. The tighter you pack the frozen dough, the higher it will rise. This is also true of biscuits. You do not necessarily want them to "spread" as much as you want them to "rise."

Here are some tips. I bake mine at 375 convection oven in a glass loaf pan I spray with PAM for about 18 minutes. They release easily ... and I put the "loaf" back on the rack. Turn the oven off and leave it for a good five minutes or so before removing it to cool on a rack. Do not cut into it while hot. You will release the steam which is needed to finish baking.

Frozen dough in a glass bread pan. 
Sprayed with PAM. I do this the night before.

In the morning they have risen. Be Happy!

Sometimes, I take a hunk of cold butter and rub it over the tops of the "bread" like one does biscuits or cornbread. It will melt and dissolve into the crevices--like icicles on a spring day. Remember, icicles have no fat or calories ... We should probably consume more (especially if used to stir a mixed drink)!

Honestly, I would rather make these than canned, refrigerated biscuits.

I don't have a photo of this, but, more and more ... just before baking, I spray the top with olive oil or brush a bit of egg/milk (best "glue") and sprinkle with sea salt. Then I sprinkle on my favorite "Bagel Topping." Definitely "over the top" but so good ... even with a smear of strawberry jelly. 

I have also kneaded this when thawed ... worked in a bit of cheese, chives, green onion, olives, etc. It behaves just like a bread dough would. Very forgiving.

Let me know what you do with it. And, please, send me a photo! Enjoy ...

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Let's Go Shopping, 2

Here are some kitchen treats I have purchased this year. Always fun to spend a lazy morning or afternoon surfing Amazon, etc. I quit my part time employment in November. It was fun to use that paycheck for things such as this ... I may need to ask for it back ....

1. Salt Cellar. I have a mini cast-iron, enameled Dutch oven with a lid that I usually keep my salt in. Unfortuanatly, it reacts with our southern humidity and rusts. And it's difficult to clean. So when I saw this heavy glass salt cellar, it fit the bill. It's roomy, heavy, and easy to keep clean.

2. I'm forever searching for that bulb of garlic that I know I have ... where did I put it? This beauty solves the problem. Once the bulb of garlic is separated, it keeps the papery skins hidy-tidy inside the box and not all over my kitchen. Plenty of room for several bulbs and/or a few shallots, too. Plus it just looks cool.

3. Check out this big-boy spatula! I saw an on-line chef use this for fish and I immediately did a Google search. No, it's not something you will use often. It's the tool for the right recipe ... and you'll be glad you have it when you need it

4. I absolutely love this little mixer/whisker. I originally bought it to mix ingredients when I make my soap. But I love it to beat eggs or liquids for a recipe. It kind of works like a top: push down and the tines twirl around and around. Easy peasy. Just be sure to give it a good rinse when you are done and before washing.

5. I love anything Mason and Cash from England. They have unique sizes and their ceramics are well-made and heavy. Since I cook/bake so many smaller-sized recipes, these bakers are perfect. They are very roomy and I like that they are deep. Great for scalloped potatoes, mini Mac-and-cheese, individual apple crisps . . . Getting more and more difficult to find. I'm particularly fond of their "cane ware" which is a basic dark beige.

6. I see more and more cooks using measuring scoops instead of cups. And with good reason. They are much easier to use. 

7. I appreciate the sturdiness and versatility of restaurant dishes. Good deals abound. Here are some recent ones I purchased off eBay:

Small "ivy" bowls. So convenient.

Bread plates. These were a bargain!

8. MOULIN. A "mouli" is a French vegetable grinder. I have had mine for over ten years and recently the tines bent. Nothing minces parsley better than an old Mouli. Some will say "persil" on them for "parsley." Some will simply say "legumes" for vegetables. If you ever see one in an antique store or thrift shop, grab it! Only wash by hand and dry before storing.

9. I am seeing more and more of this old tinware used in photo shoots. I grew up with it. I have a recipe for rye buns that I plan to bake in this. I have another that holds six. But both fit neatly into my Breville counter-top oven. My mother had an entire collection ... Oh, the stuff we should have taken . . .

10. I mostly bake in my Breville counter-top oven. In fact, I haven't turned on my large oven for a good ten years and now use it mainly for storing pots and pans. I tend to use pans/dishes that around 10 x 6 or 10 x 7. It can be tricky to find anything larger. So when I saw these two stoneware pieces, I jumped for joy. They were large, deep and roomy. Plus the had handles! A bit pricey, but they are so well made!

Coming up next: New Cookbooks!

Let's Go Shopping, Part I: