Sometimes I escape into baking and I'd been on a spree lately, making dog biscuits, muffins and most recently these sweet rolls. I'd wanted to use my favorte walnuts from Grouse Mountain, I usually splurge with these local treasures at least once evey fall.
I said "been on a baking spree"because shortly after I made these rolls (the next day), I gave up bread products. For just 14 days, but still. It all started as a conversation, "what would it be like to give up candy, ice cream--something you like." I mean really like.
Okay, after I said, I'm in for 14 days, I ate my share of the rolls first.
I used a recipe from this old pamphlet Mom gave me decades ago. It's actually one of the first things I ever baked on my own.
I'm not exactly sure of the year, but the winning recipe in this one was from Mrs. Henry Jorgenson from Portland, Oregon. Is she anyone's grandmother? Is she still around? She won $25,000 and she said was for her son's college education. Today $25,000 might only buy a year's tuition. In the 50s that money would have paid for the entire 4 years of college and you'd probably have some money left over. I used her recipe called "Ring-a-Lings."
I didn't exactly follow her recipe. I left out the eggs. The nut filling was with hazelnuts. (Go figure, Portland, right). I prefer walnuts, but the orange flavoring could really enhance hazelnuts.
But recipes are for changing. For bread, all you really need are yeast, warm liquid, flour, salt and oil. The rest is optional. The rest is tweaking. I could have also made them pumpkin by adding some pureed pumpkin. Maybe next time.
Don't omit the salt, or it will seriously taste flat.
Local flour with yeast bread can be tricky. I don't really bake much, so I don't have a scale for accuracy.
Fourteen days without bread? Just in case you decide to go without, do it after you've eaten your share.
A big thank you to Mrs. Henry Jorgenson.
Orange-Walnut Sweet Rolls
(Makes 1 dozen rolls)
These rolls are for days when you have some time at home to let them rise. I generally let them rise three times, with the last rise as shaped rolls, but the original recipe had only two rises. Before you start, it's est to heat the almond milk in a microwave for 30 seconds at a time until it is hot. The yeast needs the liquid to be 105F to activate.
1 package yeast
1/2 cup hot almond milk
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons honey or 1 tablespoon agave nectar
3 to 4 cups unbleached flour (or use a 50/50 mixture of hard wheat and unbleached flour)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablesoon fresly grated orange zest
1/4 cup melted butter or Earth Balance
1/2 cup Earth Balance or softened butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped tart cherries or currants
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3 tablespoon sugar for glaze
1. Dissolve yeast in milk and orange juice. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Mix in the honey. Stir in flour, salt orange zest. Stir until a dough begins to form. Add the butter or Earth Balance and continue to mix until a thick dough forms, adding flour to make dough very thick. Continue to mix until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and is thick enough to handle.
2. Knead dough until it becomes smooth and elastic. Shape it into a ball and place it in an oiled bowl to rise for 1 hour. Let it rise in a warm place. Make sure no drafts hit the dough while it is rising. When it is doubled in bulk, push the dough down. Knead again and let it rise once more for about 30 minutes. (Test the dough with the poke method. If the dough fills in right away after poking it, it still needs to rise. If the indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)
3. Combine the ingredients for the filling while dough is rising the second time.
4. Turn dough out onto a floured board after the second rise. Let it sit 5 minutes, then pull or roll the dough to a rectangle--about 22 by 12-inches. Spread the filling over half the wide side of the dough. Fold the other half over the dough, so you have a sandwich with the filling in the center.
5. Slice 12 strips. Take each filled strip and twist it around. Form the twists into a circle, pinching the dough together.
6. Place on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Cover with a damp towel or an oiled piece of plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size. Make glaze from orange juice and sugar.
7. Preheat oven to 350F. Bake for 15 minutes. Rolls will be lightly browned. Remove from oven and brush with glaze. Bake 5 minutes more. Tops should be golden brown.
I nearly didn't take this picture because it shows my primitive baking skills. I was a little worried about the thin sections.
And try to spead the filling evenly. You can see the challenges of too much filling when it comes to twisting the dough.
Just when I was sure they wouldn't turn out, it all came together.
I wasn't the only one impressed with how easily they came together.
The last rise takes about an hour. Salt and fat slow down the rise. I added little currants to the filling. My Cooking Assistant can only dream. Currants like raisins aren't good for dogs, so he had to settle for a dog biscuit for his modeling fee.