Friday, May 8, 2009
I was ten years old and safely cocooned in the old neighborhood on the South side of Chicago. In the wider world, war raged in Korea and the existence of a hydrogen bomb was confirmed by President Truman. Credit cards had just been introduced and mass production of main frame computers was underway. Automania was sweeping the country and folks were living comfortably on an income that averaged $2992 a year. That income made extras possible and contributed to the development of yo-yo mania among the young. I was a yo-yo maniac. Wednesdays were a special day. The Duncan yo-yo man came to the neighborhood to demonstrate the very latest of his tricks and conduct a contest using members of the audience. I was awfully good. As a matter of fact, I was fierce and ended my career with 3 gold and 2 silver yo-yos to commemorate my prowess. We won't speak of bragging rights. My Walk the Dog, Loop the Loop and Around the World were legend, but because I was small I was not always chosen from the chorus of "pick me" that proceeded each contest. These were elbow-room only affairs and to get a decent spot you had to beat the crowd. That meant lunch at Mary's Deli. That was also a good thing. Mary and her husband lived in the back of the store, their home separated from the deli by a curtain. I suspect their noses became inured over time to the smell of dill and cheese and pastrami that assaulted the senses as you walked in the door. Mary's sandwiches were Lucullian. It was the rolls that did it - her Kaiser rolls were to die for. They were eggy, slightly sweet and lightly laced with cinnamon. Today's recipe is my first attempt to recreate the rolls. I'll be making these again, but with more egg and a tad more sugar next time out. I'll update you as my experiment progresses. My changes to the recipe will be highlighted in red. If you like to learn how to shape Kaiser rolls I highly recommend a quick trip to The Fresh Loaf for a tour du jour. The rolls are simple to make and once you're comfortable with the five-fold technique they're actually quite easy to shape. Here's the recipe.
3 1/2-4 cups (1 lb.) bread or unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon malt powder
1 1/4 cups (10 oz.) water
1 tablespoon shortening, butter, or oil
1 egg white
1/4 to 1/2 cup poppy seeds
1) Combine 3 cups flour, yeast, salt, sugar, cinnamon and malt powder in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Stir in water, eggs and shortening. Mix for 5 to 7 minutes, adding flour only as necessary to form a tacky but not terribly wet dough. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise until double in volume, about 1 hour. Punch down and let rise another hour before shaping. 2) Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Cover the surface of a cookie sheet with poppy seeds. Set aside. To shape rolls, divide dough into 8 smaller pieces. Working on a lightly floured surface roll pieces of dough into balls and cover them with a damp kitchen towel; let sit for 5 minutes. Flatten into disks. Let rest another 5 minutes. Fold sides to center. Seal. Place them face down on prepared cookie sheet. This will keep seals from splitting while they rise. Cover with towel and let rise for 1 hour. Flip rolls upright in pan. Place in oven. Spray sides of oven with water to create steam. Bake until a deep golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove to rack to cool. Yield: 8 rolls.
Recipe adapted from The Fresh Loaf.
I'm sending this recipe to Susan at Wild Yeast for her weekly Yeast Spotting event.