Once again, a small group of bakers is tackling a Gourmet magazine challenge, this time the breads featured in the February issue. The team taking on this fun challenge includes:
- Kelly of Sass & Veracity
- Judy of No Fear Entertaining
- Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen
- Courtney of Coco Cooks
- Sandy of At The Baker's Bench (It was her idea this time.)
If the bloggers sound familiar, that's because we baked a boatload of cookies together back in December. This time around we had six breads to choose from, one per week during February. We're tying this in with BYOB, aka Bake Your Own Bread, hosted by Sandy. Visit her blog for more information on how that event works.
I chose these cracked wheat knot rolls first because they have some whole wheat flour, plus I like the crunch of cracked wheat and the shape of the rolls. Cracked wheat, similar to bulgur, is a crushed wheat grain that has not been parboiled. It's not always easy to find and might even be labeled as bulgur because experts do not necessarily agree on the difference, so check any local Indian or Middle Eastern markets for it. If you can't find it, bulgur makes a fine substitute.
The rolls were a hit. Great flavor plus chewy texture combined with the salty top gives these a whole grain pretzel aura. Top Gun couldn't leave them alone while waiting for dinner and I had to lay down a strict rule that none of the boys got a roll until they had eaten at least one bowl of their soup, otherwise the homemade chicken soup they normally like would have gone untouched while they devoured the rolls.
I work exclusively with instant yeast and modified the instructions for that type, and I included the instructions for active dry yeast in parentheses. The rolls require one hour beginning prep, about three to four hours of total rising time, about 20 minutes for rolling and shaping, and 20 to 25 minutes for baking, so plan ahead if you want these for dinner.
Stay tuned for more BYOB and delicious breads from our baking group.
Cracked Wheat Knot Rolls
- small bowl
- 1-quart pan
- stand mixer with dough hook attachment (or a large mixing bowl)
- 2 baking sheets, lined with parchment paper or lightly greased
- wire cooling rack
- 1½ cups water (boiling)
- ½ cup cracked wheat (or bulgur)
- 1 tablespoon salt (divided)
- 1½ cups whole milk
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (cut into pieces)
- 2 tablespoons instant yeast (or 2-¼ tablespoons active dry yeast, a ¼-oz package)
- 1½ cups whole-wheat flour
- 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (plus more for kneading and dusting)
- ¼ cup water (105–115°F)
- 1 tablespoon honey (or sugar)
- egg wash (1 large egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon water)
- 1½ tablespoons flaky sea salt (kosher salt makes an acceptable substitute)
- In the small bowl, stir together boiling-hot water, cracked wheat or bulgur, and ½ teaspoon salt, then let stand until the grains are tender, about 40 minutes.
- While grains soak, heat milk with butter in the small saucepan over low heat just until butter is melted.
- In the bowl of the stand mixer, stir together the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, yeast, and salt. (If using active dry yeast, stir together yeast, warm water, and honey in a large bowl and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. If mixture doesn’t foam, start over with new yeast. Add flours and remaining 2-½ teaspoons salt to yeast mixture.)
- Add the warm water and honey to the hot milk mixture. Drain bulgur in a sieve, then mix bulgur and milk mixture into flour mixture with the hook attachment on low speed (or a wooden spoon or rubber spatula if not using a mixer) until a sticky dough forms.
- Continue mixing on 2 until the dough is elastic and almost smooth, about 5 minutes. (If not using a stand mixer, dust your work surface with flour and turn out the dough and knead, dusting surface and your hands with just enough flour to keep dough from sticking, until dough is elastic and almost smooth, 6 to 8 minutes.)
- Form the dough into a ball. Put dough in a large oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 2 to 2 ½ hours.
- Punch down dough (do not knead), then halve. Cover one half with plastic wrap. Cut the other half of dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 12-inch-long rope with floured hands (flour surface only if dough is sticky). Make a loop with each rope, wrapping it around fingers of one hand, then knot dough twice through loop, leaving 1 end in center on top and tucking bottom end under. Transfer to a baking sheet, arranging rolls 2 inches apart.
- Repeat with the remaining dough, and place them on the second sheet. Cover rolls with a kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 1 to 1-½ hours.
- Preheat the oven to 375° F/190° C with racks in upper and lower thirds.
- Brush rolls with egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake rolls, switching position of sheets halfway through, until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes total. Transfer rolls to a rack to cool at least 20 minutes.