Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Italian Buns: Semelle

You might know that I have a weekly bread baking column on Serious Eats.

Once a month, that column is replaced by my new column, Knead the Book, where I bake five different breads from a cookbook. Those recipes are published Monday-Friday on Serious Eats. I also do a short review of the book.

And - bonus for the readers - the publisher gives away five copies of the book to readers at Serious Eats.

This week the book was The Italian Baker by Carol Field, published by Ten Speed Press. The book was recently revised and republished.

It's kind of a fun project, and there's a lot of flour flying around.

One nice thing about this book is that the recipes all include instructions for working the dough by hand, with a stand mixer, and with a food processor. And before I forget to mention it - while this book has a LOT of bread recipes, it also has recipes for other baked goods.

Since I don't have my usual Tuesday original bread post on Serious Eats this week, I'm giving you one of the recipes from The Italian Baker here.

Semelle are buns, and they're quite attractive, which is a plus. This was both the simplest recipe of the ones I tried, and also my favorite. I made it for company, and I guess they liked them, too, since there were none left afterward.

And I like the technique for shaping the buns, too. I think I'll be using that technique with other recipes.

Semelle (Little Rolls from Florence)
Recipe from The Italian Baker by Carol Field. Published with permission of Ten Speed Press
Makes 10 rolls

2 1/4 teaspoons (1 package / 0.2 oz / 7 g) active 
dry yeast
1 1/4 cups (10.5 oz / 300 g) warm water*
3 3/4 cups (17.5 oz / 500 g) unbleached 
all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons (0.4 oz / 10 g) salt
Olive oil for brushing

By Hand
Stir the yeast into the water in a mixing bowl; let stand until creamy, about 
10 minutes. Stir in the flour, 1 cup at a time, and the salt. When the dough is too stiff to stir, plunge in with your hands. Knead on a lightly floured work surface until solid and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes.

By Mixer
Stir the yeast into the water in a mixer bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Add the flour and salt and mix with the paddle until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Change to the dough hook and knead until solid and elastic, 3 to 4 minutes.

First Rise. 
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Shaping and Second Rise. 
Cut the dough into ten equal pieces and shape each piece into a ball. Brush a little oil over each and let rest 10 minutes under a towel.

With the edge of your hand, make a deep indentation down the center of each ball; be sure to press down firmly.

Place the rolls, cleft side down, on floured parchment or brown paper. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Just before baking, turn each roll over and reemphasize the cleft. Place the rolls, cleft side up, on an oiled baking sheet.

15 to 18 minutes, spraying the oven three times with water in the first 10 minutes. Cool on a rack.

* These are the water measurements as stated in the book, but the volume and weight measurements are not equal. I'm not sure what the author intended, and I didn't notice the discrepancy until after I made these. I suggest you start will the smaller amount and add water, if needed, until the dough feels right for you.

This has been submitted to Yeastspotting.