by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez / Sunday, December 5, 2010
Soft, Pull-Apart Poppy Seed Rolls
Cut to the day before Thanksgiving 2010. I had a plan. This holiday and every holiday 'til the end of time would include only home baked bread. I mean, it's not hard to do once you actually start doing it. I enjoy baking bread. The scent that sneaks from the vents in the oven...comforting...luring. The warm, tranquilizing burst of heat when you coax the bread from the oven. Pushing my passions and frustrations into the mesmerizing process of kneading the dough. The mesmerizing lengthy process of kneading the dough. Normally I relish in this part. Thinking...pondering...working out my wrist. But what's one to do when time and lack of counter space are working against you? You trek down the stairs to the basement, pull over a chair to reach that distant shelf, and tentatively pull down that patient old bread machine that knew you'd need it again one day.
I'm gonna tell you the truth. I always thought that using a bread machine was kind of like cheating. What a snobby thing to think! I stepped down from that chair...and in turn from my high horse. That wise old machine is actually an ingenius invention. I don't think that I ever even realized that it has a "dough" setting...a setting that can be a HUGE help to you when you need your time and your counter space for other things. Simply add ingredients in a certain order (consult manual...or if it's lost like mine...wing it with an educated guess...or if you're lucky, the recipe will tell you), start the dough cycle and walk away until it beeps. I'm sorry I ever underestimated you, wise machine. Thank you for not giving up on me. Then proceed as normal...shaping, giving it a second rise, baking... Brilliant. I even adapted another "normal" bread recipe just so that I could let the machine do the work for me on another of my Thanksgiving breads (but more on that another day). Oh! I almost forgot to mention my favorite part. One dirty dish...and even that isn't so dirty...those "bowls" are pretty simply swiped clean. No floury counter with feathery bits of dough stuck to it. Just a satisfied smile that radiates from within. And homemade, freshly baked bread. That's the stuff, baby. That. Is the stuff. And as for that shelf, the one that used to house the bread machine, it'll just have to remain bare until some other forgotten, misjudged appliance finds its way up there for a rest.
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbs. granulated sugar
1½ Tbs. poppy seeds
3 c. bread flour
Place ingredients in order listed into the bread machine. Set for dough cycle. After machine has run for ~7 minutes, open the lid and take a peek at the dough. If it seems too dry, add a bit of water (1 Tbs. at a time); if it seems too wet, add a bit flour (1 Tbs. at a time). Close lid and let machine do all the work for you. Once dough cycle is finished (mine takes 1½ hrs. total), remove dough from pan and place on lightly floured work surface.
Michiana-based food, drink, and travel writer with a fondness for garlic, freshly baked bread, stinky cheese, single malt Scotch, and Mexican food—who believes that immersing herself in different cultures one bite at a time is the best path to enlightenment.