Artisan bread and caramel rolls

  • Updated: December 5, 2007 - 5:53 PM
FIVE-MINUTE ARTISAN BREAD
Makes about 4 loaves.

Note: This recipe must be prepared in advance. Adapted from "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" by Jeff Hertzberg and ZÖe François.

• 11/2 tbsp. granulated yeast (about 11/2 packets)

• 11/2 tbsp. kosher salt
• 61/2 c. unbleached flour, plus extra for dusting dough
• Cornmeal

Directions

 In a large plastic resealable container, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm (about 100 degrees) water. Using a large spoon, stir in flour, mixing until mixture is uniformly moist with no dry patches. Do not knead. Dough will be wet and loose enough to conform to shape of plastic container. Cover, but not with an airtight lid.

Let dough rise at room temperature, until dough begins to flatten on top or collapse, at least 2 hours and up to 5 hours. (At this point, dough can be refrigerated up to 2 weeks; refrigerated dough is easier to work with than room-temperature dough, so the authors recommend that first-time bakers refrigerate dough overnight or at least 3 hours.)

When ready to bake, sprinkle cornmeal on a pizza peel. Place a broiler pan on bottom rack of oven. Place baking stone on middle rack and preheat oven to 450 degrees, preheating baking stone for at least 20 minutes.

Sprinkle a little flour on dough and on your hands. Pull dough up and, using a serrated knife, cut off a grapefruit-size piece (about 1 pound). Working for 30 to 60 seconds (and adding flour as needed to prevent dough from sticking to hands; most dusting flour will fall off, it's not intended to be incorporated into dough), turn dough in hands, gently stretching surface of dough, rotating ball a quarter-turn as you go, creating a rounded top and a bunched bottom.

Place shaped dough on prepared pizza peel and let rest, uncovered, for 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it in lidded container. (Even one day's storage improves flavor and texture of bread. Dough can also be frozen in 1-pound portions in airtight containers and defrosted overnight in refrigerator prior to baking day.) Dust dough with flour.

Using a serrated knife, slash top of dough in three parallel, 1/4-inch deep cuts (or in a tic-tac-toe pattern). Slide dough onto preheated baking stone. Pour 1 cup hot tap water into broiler pan and quickly close oven door to trap steam. Bake until crust is well-browned and firm to the touch, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven to a wire rack and cool completely.



STICKY PECAN CARAMEL ROLLS

Makes 8 rolls.

Note: To toast pecans, spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake 5 to 10 minutes at 350 degrees (shaking pan once or twice during baking), until nuts begin to give off an aroma.

"This crowd-pleaser was our first attempt to make dessert from stored bread dough," wrote authors Jeff Hertzberg and ZÖe François. "We were skeptical, but our first attempt with sweet enriched dough, caramel, toasted nuts and spices was so successful that it reshaped our view of what this cookbook would be." From "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day."

• 11/2 lb. premixed dough (see recipe), defrosted in refrigerator overnight if frozen For caramel topping:
• 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1/2 c. brown sugar
• 30 pecan halves For filling:
• Flour for rolling dough
• 4 tbsp. salted butter, at room temperature
• 1/4 c. granulated sugar
• 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
• 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
• 1/2 c. chopped and toasted pecans
 • Pinch of ground black pepper

Directions
To make caramel topping:
In a large bowl using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream together butter, salt and brown sugar. Spread evenly over bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan. Scatter pecan halves over butter-sugar mixture and set aside.

To make rolls: Dust surface of refrigerated dough with flour and cut off 1 1/2-pound (grapefruit-size) piece. Dust piece with more flour and quickly shape into a ball by stretching surface of dough around to bottom on all four sides, rotating ball a quarter-turn as you go. Using a rolling pin, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thick rectangle. As you roll out dough, use enough flour to prevent it from sticking to work surface, but not so much to make dough dry.

To make filling:
In a large bowl using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream together butter, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Spread mixture evenly over rolled dough and sprinkle with chopped pecans. Starting with long end, roll dough into a log. If dough is too soft to cut, refrigerate for 20 minutes to firm up. Using a serrated knife, cut log into 8 equal pieces and arrange rolls over pecans in cake pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest and rise 1 hour at room temperature. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake about 40 minutes, or until golden brown and set well in center. Remove to a wire rack. While still hot, run a knife around inside of pan to release rolls and invert rolls immediately to a serving dish.
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