I think I have mentioned before that I'm a bit obsessed with small breads at the moment. I'm looking for some that will make good rolls for sandwiches. I like a roll than has a bit more to say for itself than the average store-bought sandwich bun. I want something with substance of its own that is not too weighty with a filling added; it should have a good crust, but not one that shatters all over your lap, desk or the park bench, when you bite into your sandwich. I'd like it to be strong enough to hold up to a juicy hamburger, tasty enough to be good with just a bit of butter, but not so distinctively flavored that it will clash with sandwich fixings.
Just about any bread recipe can be turned into a recipe for rolls, by shaping, but I thought I'd go after some traditional roll recipes, on the theory that other folks may well have had the same criteria for rolls as I, and developed these ideas over time. I hope to benefit from their inherited experience. This one, for pairs of crusty swiss rolls, jumped out at me from the pages of Nick Malgieri's A Baker's Tour, which I was happy to receive for a gift this Christmas.
In a little introduction, in which the spelling of the main attraction varies a bit, he explains that these are large rolls (good, I'm not looking for a delicate mini-bite), which used to be a common sight in little restaurants and train stations in Zurich and eastern Switzerland. Sadly, he finds they have begun to disappear. These rolls are said to be chewy, and good with hearty foods, both traits I favor. Apparently it is traditional to break them up to eat, rather than slice them. Hmmm. I hoped this wasn't going to mean there would be a problem with slicing them. They can be frozen, he says, and revive well.
I adapted the recipe only slightly, and not, I believe, in any material way. Though it has a biga type starter, it can all be easily completed in one day.
These are the ingredients for the Buerli, or"Buurli", which are always baked in groups of 2 or 4.
unbleached all puropse flour 2 level cups
whole wheat flour 1/4 cup
yeast 1 tsp
warm water 1 cup
water 1 3/4 cups
1 1/2 tsps yeast
unbleached allpurpose flour 4 level cups
whole wheat flour 1/2 cup
sugar 1 tbsp
salt 2 1/2 tsp
2 jellyroll type pans lined in parchment and dusted in flour
To make the starter, I mixed the yeast with the water, then added it to the flours, which I had combined in a medium large bowl. I left this to ferment for 3 hours.
Then, I made the dough in the bowl of my stand mixer. I put the water in the bowl, and whisked in the yeast by had. I put the bowl on the mixer, and mixed the flours, sugar and salt on a low speed for a few minutes, added the starter, and mixed again until combined. I stopped the mixer, covered the bowl, and let the dough rest for ten minutes. I mixed the dough again until smooth and elastic, which only took a few minutes. I put the dough in an oiled bowl, turned it over to coat it, and covered the dough with plastic wrap-right on its surface. I left it to rise for 30 minutes.
Here's the unusual part:
I removed the dough to a lightly floured surface (my marble pastry board), flattened it slightly, and folded two sides of the dough towards the center. I repeated this manoever with the opposite sides and put the dough back, covered loosely, for 30 minutes. This process was then repeated, and the dough covered and left to rise another half hour.
After this rise, the dough was cut into 12 equal pieces. These were formed into rough rounds, and set on the two prepared baking sheets in groups of 2. The pairs were set only one inch apart within the pair, but further from the other rolls. The idea being, that after rising and baking, the pairs touch, but do not touch the other pairs. I covered these with a cloth.
I then put the oven racks in a top-third/bottom third configuration, put a roasting pan on the bottom of the oven, and cranked the oven up as high as it would go (must be at least 500F) to preheat. I let the shaped rolls rise for about an hour, until doubled. I put them in, tossed a dozen ice cubes into the roasting pan (to make steam)-and cooked the rolls for 20 minutes. I then rotated and switched the pans, turned the oven down to 400F, and baked them about 15 to 20 minutes longer, until very, very dark.
NM suggests eating the same day, or wrapping tightly and freezing. Defrost without unwrapping, he says, and reheat at 350F for 10 minutes, cooling before serving.
These are excellent, and much to the purpose. Be aware, though, that they are definitely on the hearty side. There is no trace of airiness about these rolls. Chewy crumb with body and multiple holes, and a crisp crust, which is nonetheless entirely sliceable, even with my picnic knife.
Warning, digression: I can't resist babbling on a bit about my conviction that to take advantage of life's opportunities, a person should own and carry a picnic knife. This knife must have a corkscrew and a blade which will cut bread, cheese, fruit or meat. A bottle opener would be nice, but mine doesn't have one, and I love it anyway. It is green, a favorite color, and lives in my bag. If you don't have time to make your sandwich, you can just wrap up your roll, or buy one, and pick up sandwich fixings or some cheese, butter and fruit en route. And if someone offers you any sort of treat, you are pretty much ready to accept.
I find it much more useful, and less of a nuisance than my cellphone. I must just remember to pack it in my suitcase if I am going to be in airports, so that it doesn't get confiscated during boarding. Sadly, this inhibits airbourne picnicing.