This month's excursion into yeastland looked to be pretty straightforward. Ilva, our hostess for the month chose Italian Knot Rolls. That seemed fairly easy, the only things that gave me pause were the shaping of the rolls and the flour needed. Yes, it was time for another King Arthur order for Italian flour.
Just a quick note about this flour, which I have never used before. It is amazingly fine and soft. Rubbed between the fingers it is almost like powdered sugar. If you are a flour scoffer and say, "Ha, all flours are alike, I"ll just use all-purpose," you won't get the nice, fine crumb you'd get with this beautiful flour.
So, I've set you up for how easy these rolls are, right? And if you want to see beautiful, perfect rolls, go visit the other Babes pages to see how wonderfully they did with this challenge. As for me, I didn't.
My big stumbling block was trying to convert fresh yeast in grams to dry active yeast in teaspoons for the biga. It didn't help that my engineer husband who was trying his best to figure it out for me didn't know that fresh yeast was not the same as active yeast. After a period of time which involved some raised voices, in frustration I guessed at the yeast, threw it over the flour I had measured out into a a bowl, then dumped the water in on top of that.
Um, that's not how it's supposed to go. At this point, I didn't care. I just stirred it all up. Except it wouldn't come together. So I added more water. And more. And more. Then I left it covered to do whatever it wanted. If I came back and it bubbled, fantastic. If not, I'd start over again.
Well, it was bubbly, so I ploughed ahead with the recipe. But it was awfully slack dough. Really moist and sticky. So when I shaped the knots, they didn't stay in their distinctive knotty shape, but relaxed into a pile of ooze on the baking sheets.
That might have even been OK, but for some reason I grabbed my spray bottle and spritzed in the oven when I put the rolls in. Steam = crust. I didn't know how the rolls were supposed to turn out, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't supposed to be so crusty.
So, I'll have to give it another try. When my brain comes back from holiday. And I have a lot of people hungry for delicious, warm rolls.
Thanks, Ilva, for the recipe and the excuse to stock my pantry with yet more flour.
If you'd like to try your hand at making Italian knot rolls, bake them up, post them by May 30th, and send a link to Ilva and she'll send you a Baking Buddy Badge to proudly display on your blog.
Pane Di Pasta Tenera Condita (Italian Knot Bread)
500 g / 1.1 lb normal bread flour
5 g / 0.17 oz fresh yeast, 1/4 tsp dry instant yeast, or 1 tsp active dry yeast
240 ml / 1 cup water
- Dissolve the yeast in a little water and quickly work the dough together.
- Put it in a container, cover it with a half closed lid or kitchen towel and leave it for 15-24 hrs.
1 kg / 2.2 lb. flour (type 00)
60 g / 2.1 oz lard (or shortening)
30 g fresh yeast , or 2 Tbsp active dry yeast
450-550 ml / 1.9-2.3 cups water, handwarm
25 g salt (about 2 Tbsp)
50 g/ 1.7 oz extra-virgin olive oil
25 g / .88 oz honey
500 g / l.l lb. biga
- Put the flour either in a big bowl or on a baking board, add the lard (or shortening) and mix it with your fingers until it has 'crumbled' and is completely mixed with the flour.
- Dissolve the yeast in little tepid water and add it to the flour. Mix as well as you can.
- Mix salt, olive oil and honey with the handwarm water and add it to the flour. Now work it it until it holds together and then add the biga.
- Work the dough until it is smooth and doesn't stick.
- Put it into a big bowl, cover it with plastic film and leave to rise until it has doubled.
- Now take up the dough and divide it into 12 equal parts and roll them it into long strands (about 30-35 cm)
- To make the knots: (Ilva's page has pictures of this)
1- Roll out the dough into snakes and lay them out on a flat surface.
2- Make a semi-circle with the dough strands.
3- Twist the two ends together like in the photo.
4- Bring the two ends towards the upper part of the circle.
5- Lift/fold the top part over the twisted part.
6- Take the two end and join them together under the actual knot, this will make the knot part come out more and it hides the ends.
- Put the knots on baking sheets and leave to rise (covered) until they have doubled in size.
- Bake in a pre-heated oven (200°C/390°F) for 25-35 minutes until golden brown.