Next week, I'll post a variation on this recipe so you can see how easy it is to modify and make something totally different.
Those Valentine's crafts I thought I could whip up while on maternity leave? The baby's been largely non-compliant, so once again my blog will probably not contain anything relevant to current holiday festivities. On the other hand, why not treat your lover to some fresh baked bread?
White Butter Bread
Makes about 16 dinner rolls.
2 1/2 cups lukewarm water, divided
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
Up to 7 cups bread flour
4 tablespoons butter, softened and diced
Place 1/2 cup of warm water, yeast and sugar in a bowl for 5 minutes until foamy. Put the yeast mixture, remaining warm water, salt and 4 cups of the flour in a large bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon. Mix in additional flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough stops sagging to the middle of the bowl and sticks in a mass around the spoon.
Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, for up to 8 minutes, adding extra flour to the top of the dough and the counter as needed to reduce stickiness. Flatten the dough out a bit, place diced butter on the dough, roll up and knead again. The dough will kind of fall apart at this point but as you continue kneading, it will eventually come back together. Once the dough is no longer streaked with butter, stop kneading. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and turn it over in the bowl to grease the top of the dough. Cover the bowl with a towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Lightly grease a couple of cake pans, or 9 by 13 pans or 10 by 10 baking pans (I used one 10 by 10 pan and one cake pan for a total of 16 large rolls).
Punch the dough down to deflate it and turn onto a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough into 15 to 20 equal sized pieces. Form into rolls*. Place into the prepared pans, barely touching. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 450F. Bake for 10 minutes, uncovered, then reduce the heat to 350F and bake another 10 to 15 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the bread sounds hollow when tapped. Remove the loaves from the pans and cool on a wire rack before serving either still a bit warm or completely cooled.
*To create a nice round sandwich roll: With your dough on a lightly floured counter, cup your hands on the sides of the dough. Gently pull the dough underneath itself while rotating the dough clockwise. You will see the top of the roll stretch smooth and it will create a nice rounded shape as you stretch and rotate. You don't want to tear the top and you don't want the folds to show on the sides. Keep any little folds under the roll, and stop pulling when the roll has the height that you want and is round, smooth and tight.