A while ago I admitted neglecting some of my baking books, never giving them a second look, while shamelessly favoring others.
To atone for my neglect, I pledged to give every book a fair chance with my "Equal Opportunity Baking" list, with one recipe from ALL of my baking books.
Published in 1997, I use "Brot und Kleingebäck" mainly as resource, adapting the old, labor intensive methods to more modern techniques that require less brawn and hands-on work, thanks to longer fermentation and refrigerator sleepovers.
These little (or no)-knead methods, described by Peter Reinhart, Jim Lahey, and others, are much easier to work with. And not only that, they also improve the taste.
I started the evening before, kneading the dough, then let it slowly rise overnight in the fridge. The next morning I baked my rolls. When they came out of the oven, they looked - and smelled - very appetizing.
I couldn't wait to have my first bite, but what a disappointment - I found that "the proof was in the Muesli Rolls". They tasted good, yes, but were much too dry!
How could that happen? My dough had been well hydrated the night before, even a little bit sticky, as it should be with stretch-and-fold doughs.
I really liked the taste of the rolls, otherwise I would have written off the recipe with a scribbled comment: "not that great!" Therefore, I took on the recipe again to find out what had caused this lack of moisture.
Was it the different fat content of German "saure Sahne" and American sour cream (10% vs 12-16%?) Not likely: more fat will make the crumb softer, but not drier.
American molasses instead of German sugar beet syrup? Nope! And my baking friend Paul only recommend adding more water, when I asked for his advice.
But there was one ingredient that had puzzled me from the beginning - the "hearty muesli mix". There are many muesli mixes on the market, and they differ in their composition from one brand to the other.
I looked at the list of ingredients on the package. Bob's Red Mill's "Old Country Style Muesli" had rolled oats, wheat, rye, triticale and barley flakes, dates, raisins, sunflower seeds, almonds, flax seed and walnuts.
The stretch-and-fold method doesn't really require pre-doughs (except for sourdough breads, of course). Usually the whole grains and seeds have enough time to soak when they spend the night in the fridge.
But I find that pre-soaking coarser ingredients doesn't hurt. And whole flax seed I always soak for 24 hours, anyway - to make them better digestible.
Even though my dough seemed well hydrated after the stretch-and-fold procedure, those whole grain flakes and dried fruits had swallowed a lot of water overnight.
The original recipe mentions overnight refrigeration as a do-ahead option, too, but without the muesli mixture. That should be kneaded into the dough before baking.
With just 10 minutes rising time for the shaped rolls, the flakes and dried fruits don't have time to absorb much liquid, and the original recipe requires - except for the sour cream - only 5-6 tablespoons water!
But what could I do? I like chewing on nuts, yes, but on hard pieces of dried fruit? No, thanks!
In a comment, the recipe suggests using a mixture of rolled oats, chopped raisins and hazelnuts, instead of store bought muesli. And that's exactly what I did when I made the rolls again - to have better control over the hydration.
Since a ready muesli mixture also contains sugar, I added a bit of honey. These whole wheat rolls should be slightly sweet.
I hoped these tweaks would work, and I wasn't disappointed - the second batch of muesli rolls turned out just as nice as they looked!
MUESLI ROLLS (10 - 12))
65 g old fashioned rolled oats
20 g golden raisins
100 g water
400 g whole wheat flour
185 g soaker (all)
250 g sour cream, lukewarm
14 g instant yeast
45 g/2 tbsp molasses
10 g honey (or more)
1 large egg
6 g salt
5 crushed coriander seeds
½ tsp ground cinnamon
20 g toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
1 egg yolk, mixed with 1 teaspoon water (for glazing)
20 g hazelnuts, chopped (for topping)
In the morning, stir together all soaker ingredients. Cover, and leave at room temperature.
In the evening, in a small bowl, stir instant yeast into warm sour cream, until dissolved. Mix together with all other dough ingredients at low speed (or with wooden spoon), until all flour is hydrated, and rough ball forms. Let dough rest for 5 minutes.
Knead at medium-low speed (or with hand) for 2 minutes, adjusting with a little more water, if needed. (Dough should be somewhat sticky.) Resume kneading for another 4 minutes, the last 20 seconds at medium-high speed. (Dough should still be a bit sticky.)
Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface. With wet or oiled hands, stretch or pat dough into a rough square. Fold like business letter in 3 parts, then repeat the same folds from the left and right side.
|Dough after the first stretch and fold|
|30 minutes later, swollen and puffy|
Divide cold dough*) into 10 - 12 equal pieces. Shape rolls, or torpedoes, and place them, smooth side up, on parchment lined baking sheet. Place hazelnut pieces for topping on a plate.
Brush rolls with egg wash, and dip in (or sprinkle with) hazelnuts. Gently press nuts down, so that they stick. Mist with oil spray, cover, and let proof 60 - 75 minutes, or until rolls have grown 1 1/2 times their original size.
Preheat oven to 400ºF/200ºC. Bake rolls for 12 minutes, rotate 180 degrees, and continue baking for about 13 minutes more, until they are deep golden brown.
Let rolls cool on wire rack.
*) Usually, I remove dough from the refrigerator 2 hours before using. With rolls, or other smaller pieces this is not necessary, they warm up quite fast, anyway.