One of my baking goals is to master homemade whole grain bread. This was a goal of mine even before the bread baking obsession that came along with the stay at home order of the pandemic. Now that flour and yeast is available again, I thought I would start baking. Finding freshly baked bread, made from a variety of whole grains without preservatives, is not easy. For that reason, I’ve decided to start making them myself.
Over the years I’ve tried several different recipes only to end up with a bread that was just “OK”. When I came across this recipe for oatmeal rolls in the November/December issue of Cook’s Illustrated magazine, I loved the detailed explanations about the food science of baking that the author provided. It seemed like a fool-proof method because they did all of the work to find the best ingredients, accurate measurements and kitchen-tested baking method. I was right. These rolls turned out exactly as they were described. Soft, light and fluffy, even with the addition of whole grain oats and whole wheat flour.
This is a weekend project. It’s not a difficult recipe to follow but you do have to be around the house because of the proofing of the dough. I did manage to take a long walk between one of the rises of the dough. I will usually tweak recipes to make them my own but I did not change a thing with this recipe. It is exactly how it appears in the December issue of the magazine and I give them full credit. A couple of tips: measure the flour by weighing it, boil the water then measure it and don’t use black strap molasses because it’s too bitter.
I highly recommend you check out the original recipe because the article is full of excellent bread baking tips. https://www.cooksillustrated.com/articles/2622-oatmeal-dinner-rolls
Oatmeal Dinner Rolls
3/4 cup (2 1/4 ounces) old-fashioned rolled oats, plus 4 teaspoons for sprinkling
2/3 cup boiling water, plus 1/2 cup cold water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 1/2 cups (8 1/4 ounces) bread flour
3/4 cup (4 1/8 ounces) whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup molasses
1 1/2 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 teaspoon table salt
1 large egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water and pinch of table salt
- Stir 3/4 cup oats, boiling water, and butter together in bowl of stand mixer and let sit until butter is melted and most of the water has been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Add bread flour, whole-wheat flour, cold water, molasses, yeast, and salt to the oatmeal mixture. Fit mixer with dough hook and mix on low speed until flour is moistened, about 1 minute (dough may look dry). Increase speed to medium-low and mix for about 8 minutes, scraping down the dough hook half-way through mixing.
- Transfer dough to counter, shape into ball, and transfer to lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in volume, 1 to 1 1/4 hours.
- Grease 9-inch round cake pan and set aside. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter, reserving plastic wrap. Pat dough gently into 8-inch square of even thickness. Using a bench scraper or chef’s knife, cut dough into 12 pieces (3 rows by 4 rows). Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, form dough into smooth, taut balls.
- Arrange seam side down in prepared pan, placing 9 dough balls around edge of pan and remaining 3-dough balls in center. Cover with reserved plastic wrap and let rise until rolls are doubled in size and no gaps are visible between them, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- When rolls have nearly doubled in size, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Brush rolls with egg wash and sprinkle with remaining 4 teaspoons oats.
- Bake until rolls are deep brown, about 20-25 minutes and register at least 195 degrees at center. Let rolls cool in pan on wire rack for 3 minutes; invert roll onto rack then reinvert.
Note: The original recipe says to bake for 25-30 minutes but my rolls were baked in 20 minutes so I reduced the baking time but it might depend on your oven. These rolls freeze well. Thaw them at room temperature and refresh in a 350-degree oven for 8 minutes. To make 24 rolls, double the recipe and bake rolls in two 9-inch round cake pans.
Recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, November/December, 2020.