Feather Light Yeast Rolls

Before high speed internet introduced itself to our neighborhood, I used to get my recipes from old moldy magazines that I bought from the neighborhood BookSale (a second hand bookstore). Usually there were a fair number of old Gourmet issues sold for Php20 (roughly 50 cents) that I would find at the back of the pile romance novels with half naked women.  I would buy a pile of them and sacrifice my  weekend afternoon siestas to greedily search for recipes to experiment on.

Feather light yeast rolls was one discovery in a Southern Cooking special.

Very easy to make and featherlight indeed. Like biting into a puffy cloud, with hardly anything to chew. Its plain bread though, so the play is in the texture and the crumb.  Jam and butter would push this over the top.  Highly recommend to make two pans, because one person can inhale 4 of these before feeling carbo-guilt.

Recipe below comes from Gourmet.com or the January 2008 issue of Gourmet Magazine. Italicized comments  and pics are mine.  

FEATHERLIGHT YEAST ROLLS

MAKES 2  DOZEN

ACTIVE TIME:35 MIN START TO FINISH:1 DAY (INCLUDES RISING)

1 russet (baking) potato (1/2 lb), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 stick unsalted butter, divided

1/2 cup whole milk

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

1 (1/4-oz) package active dry yeast

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

  • Generously cover potato with cold water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, until very tender, about 10 minutes. Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid, then drain potato well.
  • Meanwhile, melt 2 1/2 tablespoons butter.
  • Mash hot potato in a large bowl with a fork. Stir in milk, salt, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 2 tablespoons melted butter (mixture will be lumpy).

(When the recipe said mash, MASH. Don’t leave potato lumps like I did. It was late in the afternoon when I started mashing, and I had half an eye on the television). 

  • Cool 1/2 cup cooking liquid to warm (105 to 115°F ). Stir in yeast and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, start over with new yeast and remaining cooking liquid.)
  • Stir yeast mixture into potato mixture, then stir in flour with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms.
  • Turn out dough onto a floured surface and knead, dusting surface and hands with just enough flour to keep dough from sticking, until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes (dough will be slightly sticky).

(Yep, mash the potatoes well. Else you will have lumps of boiled potato lumps falling off your dough like dried chicken pox scabs). 

  • Brush a large bowl with some of remaining melted butter, then turn dough in bowl to coat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise, chilled, 8 to 12 hours.
  • Punch down dough (do not knead), then halve. Roll each half into a 12-inch-long log on a very lightly floured surface with lightly floured hands. Cut each log into 12 equal pieces and roll each into a ball. Arrange evenly spaced in 6 rows of 4 (less than 1/2 inch apart) in a buttered 13- by 9- by 2-inch baking pan. Cover pan with a kitchen towel (not terry cloth).

  • Let rolls rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled (they will fill pan), 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

  • Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.
  • Melt remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons butter.
  • Brush top of rolls with melted butter and bake until golden-brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Loosen edges with a sharp knife, then transfer rolls to a rack and cool slightly.

(Re the brushing of butter. Be very careful at this point because the raised rolls are very fragile and a heavy handed brush can deflate a few of the puffs. I have not tried a butter spray but I can imagine it will work well). 

COOKS’ NOTE: Rolls are best the day they’re baked but can be frozen, wrapped well, up to 1 month. Thaw, then reheat, uncovered, on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven, 5 to 10 minutes.

via Featherlight Yeast Rolls: 2000s Recipes + Menus : gourmet.com.

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