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Fritz’s hard rolls March 2, 2011

Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Bread, Wolfe recipe.
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I am not the best host in the world. I am relatively attentive, but I am more likely to pass the bottle of wine over than refill your glass myself and generally don’t have pretty display dishes to serve everything in. However, I didn’t realise I was letting the team down in terms of bread – but clearly, according to Nero Wolfe, I have been. Wolfe always ensures that Fritz has a selection of these hard rolls on hand, so that when unexpected visitors drop by, some rolls or sandwiches can be quickly provided.

I’m also beginning to discover why Nero Wolfe’s bread is so successful: resting the dough. Normally, when you make bread, there are two periods where you leave the bread to rest and rise and do fun things like develop gluten. But for Nero Wolfe, clearly two times just isn’t enough. The default for this recipe was to complete a step – rest for 10 minutes – do the next step – rest for 20 minutes – do another step – rest for another 10 minutes. This means these rolls are quite good for making while doing other things, as long as you’re around enough to carry on with all the steps.

To start with, I added yeast to some warm water and let it sit. After it had bloomed, I added about half the flour, salt and water. I combined these and began adding more flour. I was instructed to add enough flour to form a stiff dough, and I ended up with about 3 1/2 cups of flour before it was too difficult to add more. Then, of course, I let it rest for 10 minutes.

After the 10 minutes, I kneaded it until it was smooth and elastic, using the ‘window pane’ test to ensure it was ready. I rolled it in a bit of oil, and left it to rise until it doubled in size.

As you can see it certainly doubled in size! I punched it down and divided the dough into quarters. Then of course, I left it to rest for another 10 minutes.

After the 10 minutes was up, I cut each quarter into 3 smaller pieces, formed them into balls and put them on a tray covered with corn meal. This time I had to wait until they had doubled in size.

I brushed some egg white onto the rolls, and when they had doubled, slashed each one with a knife. I put them into the oven for about 20 minutes, until they were brown on top.

As I was considering my hosting abilities, I thought it was only fair I fill some of the rolls – and since I didn’t have any visitors, I had to eat them myself! I didn’t have any of Fritz’s fillings on hand, but made some rolls with smoked salmon, Japanese mayonnaise, lettuce and chives.

The hard rolls were great – and if I have the time to let them rest between steps, may well become my go-to rolls recipe. The crusts were chewy and crisp, with the insides soft and fluffy while still having a nice chewy texture.

I think I’ll definitely have to make more of these rolls to practice my hosting duties. However, it may well be the case that we’ll get visitors and no rolls will be left if I’ve been practising – and eating – too much!

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