Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Not-So-Hard Day's Work - Hard Italian Rolls

The urge to make bread has struck again!

I've officially asked for a copy of Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice for my birthday next month. I know quite a lot of bloggers are taking part in the current BBA Challenge, instigated by the wonderful Nicole at Pinch My Salt. These guys are working their way through every single recipe in that book, and I doing all sorts of impressive things. I may or may not decide to play along, but either way, I must have that book!

In the meantime, I'm still turning to the only book on my overcrowded bookshelf that contains any good bread recipes: Marcy Goldman's A Passion for Baking. This time around, I made hard Italian rolls. After all, I had promised to tackle a crusty bread this time.

So, first time making a hard-crusted bread, as opposed to the soft, spongy ones I've been making so far. It was also my first time using a sponge, which I suppose went fine. That's the thing I like about making bread: I know so little about the process that I have no idea what could really go wrong. After I get my hands on The Bread Baker's Apprentice, I'll probably be freaking out about molecules and yeast types, and what not. (It's like pies: sometimes I swear I wish I didn't know about gluten and what overhandling pie dough will do to your crust... Now I just panick every time!)

Another thing I love about making bread is that it's an afternoon-long process that nevertheless leaves me plenty of time to get my work done. In fact, it mingles very nicely with my schedule, allowing me to take short breaks and pace myself. It adds a rhythm to my day: start the sponge, do some reading, launch the first rise, do some writing, shape the loaves, read some more, pop them in the oven, finish your chapter.

I could have left the rolls just a tad longer in the oven, to allow them to brown a bit more. But they felt hard as wood when I tapped them after the suggested baking time had elapsed, so I thought for sure they were already overdone. They weren't, though: the crumb was dense, but still quite fluffy, and definitely not dry.

The rolls looked like they would only keep for a couple of days - but then, we didn't allow them to overstay their welcome in the bread basket! They were promptly devoured and never heard from again... until next time!


  1. MMMMM,...these rolls look absolutely lovely!! I would like to savour at least 2 of them now as lunch!

  2. Oh Valerie I love the pace of your bread baking and how wonderfully it fits into your day. I think that's the way life should be.
    Whenever I start thinking too much "science" and getting myself all wound up, I try to remind myself most all of these dishes and probably especially bread started out in much more rustic kitchens than mine. I think the best way to learn about baking bread is doing just what you're doing now: put your hands in dough.
    The rolls look wonderful!

  3. Those breadrolls look absolutely delicious Valerie! I finished my first batch of macarons... My first disastreus batch of macarons I might add. Just posted them on my blog, but honestly... what a mess!!

  4. Ils sont vraiment beaux tes pains Valérie!
    Fabriquer du pain demande de la patience, mais le résultat final est tellement satisfaisant...
    Je suis justement dans la lecture du livre que tu veux recevoir pour ton anniversaire et j'ai très hâte d'essayer une première recette!

    Bonne journée

  5. These bread rolls look fantastic!and I love your blog!

  6. The texture looks wonderful!


  7. The texture of the rolls look great! Really beautiful crust too. I'd love one of them with a big bowl of minestrone :)