Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Rustic Dinner Rolls

2 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 2/3 cups warm water
4 cups bread flour
1/4 cup wheat gluten
2 tsp. salt
Cornmeal for dusting

In a small bowl, stir the yeast and water together and let stand until bubbly on the top, 2 to 3 minutes.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flour, gluten, salt and yeast mixture. Using the dough hook attachment, knead the mixture on medium-low speed to form a soft, smooth and elastic dough, 8 to 10 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape it into a ball, then return it to the bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, set in a warm place and let the dough rise until doubled in volume, about 1 1/2 hours.

Gently punch the dough down to remove the larger air pockets, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and let rest for 5 minutes. Divide the dough into 8 pieces and, with floured hands, gently shape each piece into a ball, stretching the sides of the dough down and under. Pinch the seam beneath each ball to seal it.

Dust the shallow dish of a round stoneware baker with cornmeal. Place 7 balls of dough in a circle, seam side down, and place the last ball in the center. Cover with the lid and let rise until doubled in volume, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Meanwhile, position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 375 deg. F.

Transfer the baker to the oven and bake until the rolls are golden and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom, 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer the rolls to a wire rack and cool slightly before serving.

Yields: 8 rolls

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