Here is a great weekend project. Few things are as satisfying as making your own bread and now that I know how easy it is, I don’t think I’ll buy dinner rolls ever again. Bread is one of those recipes most of us find intimidating. Yeast, proof, rise,… It all sounds so complicated. And then, like most things, I just got over it, bought some yeast and gave it a shot. And boy was it worth it! I started with basic dinner rolls but why make regular rolls when you can turn them into a caterpillar?
Here is how to make it:
- 1 packet dry active yeast
- ¼ cup warm water
- 1 cup milk
- 4 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp salt
- 2½ cups flour (+reserve another ¾ cup to get the right texture)
- 3 tbsp olive oil (to oil the dough)
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp cream or milk
- Place yeast and warm water in the bowl on electric mixer. In the meantime, melt butter in milk over a low flame. After 15 minutes (once the yeast has bloomed), add honey, salt, 2½ cups of flour and butter/milk mixture. Mix on medium speed with the dough hook to combine. Add flour ¼ cup at a time until the dough starts to slightly pull away from the sides of the bowl. At that stage, knead the dough for 7 minutes.
- Pick up the dough and shape it into a ball. Place back in the bowl and rub olive oil all over the dough and the sides of the bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and place in a warm spot for 2 hours. The dough will double in size.
- Take out the dough and flatten it with your hands. Cut dough into small squares of equal size. Shape each piece into a ball. Place dough balls ⅛" apart in an S shape on a lined baking sheet. Brush with an egg wash. Place the sheet in a warm spot for 30 minutes to let the dough rise again. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
- Bake for 20 minutes.
Place the yeast in the bowl of an electric mix with 1/4 of warm water (100 degrees is best). If the water is too cold, the yeast won’t bloom. If it’s too hot it will kill the yeast. If you have a food thermometer, now is the perfect time to use it:
Whisk it together and let it sit for 15 minutes. It will become foamy.
While that’s happening, melt your butter in milk on low temperature. You just want it warm or it will kill the yeast so don’t let it come to a boil:
Once your yeast has bloom, add 1 tsp honey and 1 tsp salt:
Pour 2 1/2 cups of flour and the milk/butter mixture:
Attach the dough hook and start mixing:
I’ll admit it, it looks a bit gnarly at this stage but keep mixing.
Start adding flour a little at a time (about 1/4 cup each time) to get the right consistency. You know the dough has the right amount of flour when it starts to pull away from the bowl.
For instance, this is still a little too wet:
Here is what you’re looking for:
Continue kneading on low speed for 7 minutes. At that point, the dough should be soft and tacky. If it’s too sticky, add a tiny bit more flour and knead for another minute. Once your dough is nicely kneaded, take it out and form it into a ball by pulling sides under.
Place back in the bowl and cover with 3 tsp of olive oil. Rub the oil all over your dough ball and bowl. This will prevent it from sticking as it rises:
Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and place it in a warm spot. If your oven is on, the top of the stove is a good spot. I have friends who swear by a just-emptied, still-warm dishwasher (something about it sounds weird to me though). Let it rise for 2 hours. The dough will double in size and look like this:
Take out your dough and flatten it out with the palm of your hand:
Next we need to cut the dough in pieces of the same size. An easy way to do that is to first cut it into strips using a sharp chef’s knife or pizza wheel:
And then cut the strips into little squares:
To form each piece into a ball, pull sides of a piece underneath itself and pinch. Do it a couple of times and a ball will form. You want the top to be as smooth as possible:
To bake our bread, we will use a baking sheet lined with parchment paper on a silicon mat.
To make regular dinner rolls, just place them in neat rows about 1 1/2 inches apart.
But who wants regular dinner rolls? Not this guy! =)
To shape our caterpillar, place balls of dough in an “S” pattern:
You’ll notice that the balls barely touch. That’s to leave them room to rise. As they rise, they will connect and form the caterpillar.
Once you’re happy with the shape of your caterpillar, brush it with an egg wash (1 egg + a dash of cream). This will turn the rolls a beautiful golden color as they bake:
Place your sheet in a warm spot and let the dough rise again for another 30 minutes.
The balls will puff up, connect and look like this:
Preheat your oven to 375°F and bake your bread for 20 minutes.
And this is what you get:
To add finishing touches, poke 2 tiny holes in the “head” roll with a toothpick and place pieces of chive. Finally, with a food coloring pen, give your caterpillar a smiley face: