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    Monday, February 26, 2024

    NSFW? Dutch Crunch Rolls, Sourdough Glue and Recycled Bread

    Dutch Crunch Rolls (top) and Sourdough Spin Rolls (bottom)

    Gawd, I’m obsessive. When I was actively entering online recipe contests (2004-2013), I was testing out recipes at home, making them and bringing them into work at The Day. At some point before lunch, I would send out an email to everyone in the building like Ma standing on the porch, ringing a dinner bell hollering, “COME AND GIT IT!!!” And like the dogs in the old Chuck Wagon commercials, my co-workers would run into my office, tongues wagging.

    (Note to my editrix and all my co-workers: I don’t actually think of you as dogs, except in a gender non-specific Man’s Best Friend kinda way. I love all of you.)

    I have a folder in my Day email with copies of the recipe tests du jour; 300+ emails over nine years. I don’t even remember half these recipes. Most of them were cookies, cakes, casseroles, dips and snacks. But there were also crockpots full of chili, soups and stews. Louder Chowder, anyone? Frenchiladas? For two years in a row, I was a finalist in both the national Chex Mix and the Scharffenberger Chocolate contests. I was bringing in Rubbermaid totes of Chex Mixes and getting feedback that was really helpful. The cash and prizes from these contests may have kept my oven stoked, but the Wonka-esque reputation around the building kept my ego inflated to a healthy PSI.

    In retrospect, there is only one way I could’ve been more disruptive to the workflow in the building: I should have baked bread in the lunchroom oven. The yeasty, warm, primal scent would’ve rolled out of the kitchen, through the vents, stairwells and elevator shafts to every department. That woulda been a real showstopper.

    Honestly, if there’s a more narcotic aroma in the culinary universe, I don’t know what it could be. It instantly triggers memories and emotions. Maybe we’re hardwired to respond to it? I mean, the earliest evidence of bread making goes back to 8000 BCE during the Neolithic period, and the Egyptians introduced leavened bread around 3000 BCE. Ten-thousand years of conditioning has to have some effect. Somewhere deep in the brain, between Fight, Flight and Freeze, you know there’s got to be a Bread Button.

    Dutch Crunch Rolls and a Sourdough Glue

    What a great find this is; delicious soft sandwich rolls with a crackly top crust that looks so attractive. I divided the batch up into smaller dough balls for dinner rolls at Easter, and they got lots of compliments. It’s little extra work to make the rice flour coating but worth the effort.

    At the same time, I’m including an alternative topping for the same dough: a sourdough glue to add extra tangy flavor to any loaf or roll you want to try baking. It also superglues the toppings to the bread so they end up actually embedded into the crust, not in your lap.

    ROLLS:

    3 cups All Purpose Flour

    1 tsp salt

    3 tsp instant yeast

    3 tsp sugar

    1 cup whole milk (room temp)

    1/4 cup lukewarm water

    2 Tbsp vegetable oil

    CRUNCH TOPPING

    3/4 cup white or brown rice flour

    1 Tbsp sugar

    2 tsp instant yeast

    1 Tbsp vegetable oil

    1/2 cup to 3/4 cup warm water

    SOURDOUGH “GLUE”

    1/2 cup active sourdough starter

    1 Tbsp sugar

    1 Tbsp vegetable oil

    Warm water to thin the mixture.

    Anything you want to top a roll with: poppy seeds, dried onion, granulated garlic, bagel mix, grated cheese, etc.

    1. Mix the water and milk for the rolls together in the bowl of a standing mixer. Add yeast, sugar and oil into the liquid and stir to combine. Let it sit until yeast is bubbly, approximately 5-10 minutes.

    2. Add the salt and flour to the mixing bowl and stir in by hand until the liquid is mostly incorporated. Using the dough hook attachment, knead the dough on medium speed for 8 minutes, until the dough comes together and looks smooth and elastic.

    3. Shape the dough into a smooth ball in the bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Leave in a warm place to rise for approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours until dough ball has doubled in size.

    4. Line a half sheet pan with parchment and remove dough from mixing bowl. Cut dough into six equal pieces and shape each into a tight ball with your hands or on a cutting board. Place the shaped pieces onto the parchment line sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rolls rise for 30 minutes.

    5. Preheat oven to 425°F with a rack in the center position.

    6. To make the Dutch Crunch topping: combine the rice flour, sugar, oil, yeast and water together in a small bowl and whisk until combined. Add water, if needed, until mixture is as thick as glue. Alternately, to make the sourdough topping, mix the starter, oil, sugar and the flavorings that you have selected together and add water until the mixture is at glue consistency. Thick, but brushable. There will be topping mix left over.

    7. Brush the top half of each roll with a thick layer of the topping mix; brush off any drips that run to the bottom of the roll to avoid scorching. Place baking sheet into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Rotate pan halfway through baking time. Remove rolls from the oven when the tops are cracked and deep golden brown (sourdough topping does not crackle).

    8. Let rolls cool on a wire rack. Then slice and enjoy.

    Upcoming and Ongoing

    I got so wrapped up in baking bread during the quarantine that I was cranking out fresh loaves at least a couple times a week. Which left me lots of odds and ends to make homemade bread crumbs and croutons. Did you know you can replace up to 25% of flour (by weight) in a bread recipe with an equal weight of bread crumbs? Homemade bread can go stale very quickly (no preservatives like the supermarket stuff), but you can literally recycle your leftover bread. In fact, using finely ground prebaked crumbs gives your bread more of a toasty flavor.

    Don’t believe me? This method gained traction in France after the "Loi Garot“ law was passed in 2016. This law aims to combat food waste by requiring supermarkets to donate unsold food items to charities and food banks instead of discarding them. While the law primarily targets supermarkets, it has encouraged bakeries to consider recycling or repurposing unsold products. Watch at https://dai.ly/x80atqr

    And if the French do anything better than anyone, it’s bread.

    Rich Swanson is a local cook who has had numerous wins in nationally sponsored recipe contests. He is also the layout specialist here at The Day.

    Comments? Questions? Suggestions? Rich Swanson can be reached at TheSurlyTable@gmail.com

    Comment threads are monitored for 48 hours after publication and then closed.