For years I was intimidated by yeast breads. After all, working with yeast is like performing magic - such amazing transformation of ingredients! I remember my first brush with bread making decades ago and my subsequent reluctance to go back there after baking a loaf that most closely resembled a brick. But serendipitously, COVID’s times have me rethinking my resistance.
It’s true that making yeast breads has become much simpler over the years. We now use dry yeast (making sure it’s fresh and well within the expiration date), and many of us also have standing mixers with dough hooks that make the kneading process significantly easier.
So, as friends recount tales of homemade artisanal breads on social media, I venture into what I consider fairly simple territory - focaccia making. This first step turned out pretty darn good if I may say so myself. You can try focaccia baking yourself by following this excellent TCB recipe.
With this elementary victory under my belt, I now think I may have caught the bug. What I’ve discovered is this: perhaps the most essential ingredient is patience. Yeast breads take time. So I guess I’ll need to muster up a large dose of patience as I dive into my next challenge. The minute I saw this recipe from one of the most admired bloggers, Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen, I just had to try it. Her words “in a kitchen so fragrant with everything delicious in this world - cheese, butter, and freshly baked bread” kinda cinched the deal.
So here I go.
Cheddar Swirl Rolls
Makes 12 rolls
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
A few grinds of black pepper
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (if you use the packets, this equates to 1 packet PLUS 1/2 teaspoon)
1 cup whole milk, lukewarm, 110-115 degrees
4 Tablespoons butter, melted and cooled to lukewarm, plus 1 Tablespoon for brushing
1/2 cup grated white onion
1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons minced fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon table salt
A few grinds of black pepper
1. Combine the flour, salt, pepper and sugar in a large bowl, preferably the bowl of a standing mixer.
2. Ensure that the milk is between 110-115 degrees with an instant-read thermometer. In a separate bowl, whisk the yeast into the milk until it dissolves. Add the yeast-milk mixture and the melted butter to the flour mixture and mix together with the paddle of an electric mixer on low speed until a shaggy ball is formed.
3. Switch from the paddle to the dough hook attachment on the mixer. Knead at low speed for about 6 minutes, or until a smooth and slightly sticky ball has formed. (You can also knead the dough by hand on a floured board for about 8 minutes, until smooth.)
4. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rest until approximately doubled in size, about 2 hours.
5. Scoop the dough onto a well-floured board or counter top. Roll into an approximate 12” x 16” rectangle.
6. Combine all the filling ingredients and spread thinly over the rectangle, leaving a 1/2-inch border along the short ends.
7. Roll dough tightly from one short end to the other, into a 12-inch log.
8. With a sharp serrated knife, carefully cut the log into twelve 1-inch rolls.
9. Using parchment paper, line the bottom of two 9” round pans, or one 9”x13” baking pan. Arrange six rolls in each 9” pan, or twelve rolls in the larger pan. Arrange with an even amount of space between the rolls.
10. Brush the tops with the additional melted butter, cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until approximately doubled again, about 2 hours.
11. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
12. Once the rolls have risen, bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops are light golden and the cheese bubbles from the centers. Serve immediately.
Success! Carefully following the instructions and exercising patience paid off, and I feel good about my second foray into yeast bread making. The dough cooperated as it was supposed to each step of the way. It rose nicely and was easy to roll out and cut. The finished rolls puffed up and expanded into each other, oozing with cheese.
And the results are absolutely delicious hot from the oven... so without further ado, I’m off to the dinner table. By the way, Perelman actually names these “breakfast buns” and of course they would be delicious with any egg dish. No matter how you choose to enjoy them, I promise you will.
Try your hand at bread baking with The Chopping Block's guidance. Our chefs have written much about their own experiences with breads, bread-baking, and yeast. Here are just a couple of articles to check out:
Or join us in a virtual class any time; we offer both demonstrations and hands-on Cook Along classes. Join us tonight at 6pm CST to learn how to make the pillowy Indian flatbread Naan and serve it with homemade chutney.