Recipe: French Bread Rolls

Instead of just regular old rolls, these are slightly classier but unfortunately they take way longer than rolls so, only for long weekends and special occasions.

French Bread Rolls
Serves 12
Soft inside, crispy outside - basically a mini baguette
  1. 5–6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (or more as needed)
  2. 2 tbsp olive oil
  3. 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  4. 2 tsp sugar
  5. 2 cups lukewarm water
  6. 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
  7. 1 tbsp salt
  8. all-purpose flour for dusting
  9. yellow cornmeal for baking sheets
  10. flaked sea salt or coarse salt
  1. In a small bowl or measuring cup, add 1/2 cup of the water, then add the yeast and a pinch of sugar and stir until the yeast is dissolved. Set aside until bubbling.
  2. In a large bowl, add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of water, the olive oil, sugar, milk powder, salt and yeast mixture and stir together.
  3. Add about half the flour and stir with until it comes together. Keep adding flour–approximately 1/2 cup at a time–stirring until the dough makes a rough mass that starts to pull away from the bowl and can't be stirred easily.
  4. Lightly flour a work surface and using a bowl scraper or rubber spatula, turn the dough out. With lightly floured hands, knead the dough, adding only enough additional flour to keep the dough from sticking. If needed, use a bench scraper to release the dough from your work surface. Knead for about 3-5 minutes or until it's smooth and elastic and slightly sticky. Form into a ball.
  5. Lightly grease a large bowl, place the dough ball in the bowl and turn to coat. Cover the bowl and set aside in a warm spot to rise until doubled in bulk, approximately 1 1/2–2 hours.
  6. Once doubled, turn the dough out onto a work surface and deflate, folding it over and forming into a ball. Place back in the bowl, cover and let rise again until doubled, 1 1/2–2 hours.
  7. Line two baking sheets with lint-free tea towels and generously dust the towels with flour.
  8. Once again, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and deflate. Divide into 12 portions, set aside and cover.
  9. Form each dough ball into a tight, smooth round (excellent shaping video here), then place each round onto the baking sheets, smooth side down in the flour. Cover the rolls with a lint-free towel and let rise until light and puffy, about 45 minutes.
  10. Line two more baking sheets with parchment, sprinkled with cornmeal. Place a small oven-proof pan on the floor of your oven and position the racks at the bottom and center. Preheat the oven to 450° at least 30 minutes before baking.
  11. When rolls have fully risen, gently invert them and place them floured side up on the parchment lined baking sheets (don't remove the excess flour). Use sharp kitchen shears to cut an X on the top of each roll. Sprinkle with flaked sea salt or coarse salt.
  12. To help create steam, prepare a measuring cup with about 1/2 cup of ice cubes and set aside. Load the baking sheets onto the oven racks, then add the ice cubes to the pan on the bottom of the oven and quickly close the door.
  13. Bake the rolls for 20–25 minutes, rotating the pans and switching racks for even baking. Bake until lightly golden, then lower the oven to 400° and continue baking for another 5 minutes or until the rolls are a deep golden brown. Turn off the oven and leave the rolls for another 5 minutes or so to finish crisping.
Adapted from A Saggy Dough Story
Mab Made Food

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