My family has one dish that is served at absolutely every single Big Occasion (and many small ones too). The family pig roast, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter (when we were growing up–now we are rarely home), any occasion on which all 4 of my mother’s children are under the same roof, you name it. It is her family’s sweet rolls and they are worthy of the hype–and will hopefully be featured on this blog sometime after Thanksgiving.
But as a bread baker I sometimes get the itch to try a new recipe, you know? So I thought about serving 2 rolls this year and did a test run on the new recipe, which you all get to benefit from. The verdict on these rolls was a thumb pointing almost straight up. Because, you know, they have serious competition in those family rolls and whether it is because of the tradition or because my family’s rolls are truly superior I am not really qualified to judge, having been eating and loving those rolls my whole life. I can tell you this much–every person who marries into the family from my dad to my husband and my sisters in law loves those rolls as much as those of us who grew up with them do.
But I digress, I am trying to sell you on this recipe. It is just that I also feel the need to explain that you will not see these rolls on my Thanksgiving table, but I would cheerfully make them any other time of the year. Oh, except Christmas also. But anyway, I was instantly attracted to these rolls–the goodness of these rolls depends more on sweet whole grains and the flavor of maple than it does on richness. Which is I think what sunk them against the family sweet roll, but also what makes them a superior (i.e., healthier) choice for any other occasion.
I only made one change to this recipe. I happen to have found some natural, pure maple extract and I added one half teaspoon to a half-batch–but I do not believe it is necessary. The sweet and salty glaze on the tops of the rolls, on the other hand, is gloriously necessary. I am sending these rolls over to Wild Yeast‘s Yeastspotting–check it out every Monday.
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 t salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups stoneground cornmeal (I used a fine grind–let it soak longer if using coarse)
4-5 T rolled oats
1 t maple extract, optional (make sure it is NOT artificial)
2 egg yolks
2 scant T active dry yeast (or 2 packages)
1/2 cup lukewarm water (no warmer than 120 F)
1 t sugar
2 1/2 – 3 cups unbleached AP flour
2 1/2 – 3 cups whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat flour)
cooking spray (oil)
Sweet-Salty Glaze (see recipe below)
Place in a large bowl the maple syrup, salt, butter, cornmeal and 2 tablespoons of the oats. Heat the buttermilk up in a pot on the stove to a boil–it will separate which is fine. Pour it over the maple syrup/cornmeal mix. Mix gently to cover everything with buttermilk and then let it sit for 10-20 minutes, depending on coarseness of cornmeal. When it is lukewarm to room temperate to the touch (insert your finger into the bowl), add the eggs and maple extract and mix to combine.
In the meantime, mix the yeast, sugar and lukewarm water. Set aside to let the yeast proof. When it is bubbling, add it to the cornmeal mixture, along with 1 cup each of the AP and whole wheat flours. Beat vigorously for 2 minutes. Then add the flours, alternating between the 2, 1/2-cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl (after you have added about 4 cups total).
Dump the dough onto a clean, floured surface. Knead, adding flour as needed, until the dough is smooth and elastic, 5-6 minutes. The dough will be quite tender. Spray a deep bowl with oil and add the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and place ina warm spot to let the dough rise until doubles, approximately 1 hour.
While the dough is rising, prepare the pans: 2 12-inch rounds pans, 3 9-inch round pans or 3 12-cup muffin tins. Whichever you choose–or you can do butterhorns, for example, on cookie sheets–spray the pans with oil. Clean your work surface and lightly spray it with oil. When the dough is risen, shape the rolls as desired (if you use the round pans, make 1 1/2-inch diameter balls, which I was very haphazard about) and place them into or on the prepared pans. Cover again with plastic and a towel (use only a damp towel if you use the cookie sheets to prevent sticking) and let rise until almost doubles, about 45 minutes.
30 minutes into the rise, preheat the oven to 375 F. At this point, prepare the glaze.
When the rolls have risen, place them in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Then remove the pans, brush the glaze onto the rolls, sprinkle with the remaining oats and return them o the oven. Bake for another 6-9minutes, until the tops are shiny and browned. Serve warm.
Adapted from The Cornbread Gospels
3 T butter
1 1/4 t salt
2 T light brown sugar
2 T pure maple syrup
Bring the first 4 ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan on the stove. Stir to dissolve the salt and sugar. Remove from the heat and let cool to lukewarm. Whisk in the egg. Brush it onto the rolls as called for above.
Dragonwagon calls for adding the egg immediately–which I was worried would create Salty Sweet Egg Drop Soup–and yes it did. I am not sure if it is a typo or user error on my part, but I advise letting the glaze cool before adding the egg.