Wednesday, February 4, 2009

We Bake GOURMET ~ Parmesan Pull-Aparts

Back in December, a group of fellow food bloggers and I got together for a 12 Cookies of Christmas posting event, put together by Andrea, of Andrea's Recipes. For that cookie-making extravaganza, we dove into Gourmet's special feature of favorite cookies from its own history (all the way back to the 1940s), and we each made a different batch of cookies a day for the first twelve days of December. That was such fun (believe it or not), we decided to come together again, and this time, we're taking on the February 2009 issue of Gourmet magazine's cover feature, "Roll with It."

We're each choosing four of the six featured recipes to make this month, one each week, and as with our cookie baking, we'll be making our selections independently of each other, so the posts will vary on each of our blogs.

When you're done here, be sure to visit my Gourmet-bakers-in-arms ~ Andrea of Andrea's Recipes; Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen (who also designed our cool badge!); Kelly of Sass & Veracity; Courtney of Coco Cooks; and Judy of No Fear Entertaining ~ I'm sure they'll have something wonderful going on in their ovens too.

This week, my choice was the Parmesan Pull-Aparts from pages 86 and 87 of the February issue of Gourmet. My version, which appears here, differs slightly from the version that appears in the magazine, mainly due to the changes I made to accommodate my preference for instant dry yeast over active dry yeast. If you have active dry yeast and want to use it, just pick up a copy of the magazine for the original recipe. I rarely, if ever, use active dry yeast anymore, as instant yeast is much more productive and I can find it in two-pound combo packs at Sam's Club. (Oh yeah, that's right, 2 pounds. Once you open a pound, you can keep it in a glass jar in the fridge ~ perfectly convenient.) Incidentally, instant yeast, bread machine yeast, and RapidRise yeast are all the same thing. Feel free to use them interchangeably.

Parmesan Pull-Aparts

  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast granules

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling

  • 1 1/4 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2/3 cup milk, warmed to 105-115 degrees F (skim okay)

  • 3 large eggs, divided

  • 5 tablespoons butter, softened, cut into tablespoon-size pieces

  • 1 tablespoon water

  1. In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, combine yeast, sugar, flour, salt, and cheese; whisk together. Add milk and beat at low speed with the paddle attachment until dry ingredients are moistened.

  2. Increase speed to medium and beat in the first egg. Add second egg and beat well. Stop mixer and scrape down sides of bowl and paddle occasionally. Continue to beat until a soft, sticky dough forms, about 2 to 3 minutes.

  3. Start beating in butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough is elastic ~ about 2 more minutes. The dough will still be very sticky at this point.

  4. Scrape dough into center of bowl, sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons of flour.

  5. Cover with a sheet of plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Let sit at warm room temperature for about 2 hours, or until dough has doubled in size.

  6. Gently punch dough down but don't knead it. Turn it out onto a floured surface. Don't worry ~ the dough will be very gassy and light, but it won't be all that sticky. The flour you dusted it with before will keep it from sticking to the bowl; it should come out fairly neatly.

  7. Gently form the dough into a rectangular shape. Go easy here ~ you don't want to press the gas out of the dough, you just want it to form a rough rectangle so it's easier to cut into equal pieces.

  8. Cut the rectangle in half lengthwise, and then into 12 equal(ish) parts.

  9. Roll each part into a ball and place in a greased 9" x 2" cake pan, leaving space between the balls.

  10. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, till rolls have puffed and fill the pan.

  11. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Mix remaining egg with 1 tablespoon water and brush over tops of raised rolls in pan. Bake until golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.

  12. Remove pan from oven and run a thin-bladed knife around the edge of the pan to loosen rolls. Invert onto a large spatula or a small rack and then invert again onto a cooling rack. Cool at least 20 minutes before pulling apart and eating.

Makes 12 rolls.

Tips and Truc:

  • I use a metal bench scraper to cut my dough. If you don't have one, you can use a serrated bread knife. Flour the dough first so the knife doesn't catch on it.

  • To form smooth, round rolls, I used the same method that I use with my hamburger buns. I hold the dough in one hand and use the other to draw the top "skin" of the dough around and down, gathering it below the ball of dough. Then I twist this little nub and flatten it, and place the ball of dough smooth-side up in the pan. This method gives my rolls a really uniform roundedness, and it's so much easier than trying to roll the balls of dough into perfect spheres.

  • Not all of my rolls would fit into my cake pan without excessively crowding them. I had one roll left over, which I baked separately.

  • I used shredded Parmesan to make the dough, but I sprinkled a bit of grated Parmesan on top of my rolls before putting them in the oven. You can go with just the egg wash for nice, shiny tops, or you can sprinkle with Parmesan, poppy seeds, or sesame seeds before baking if you like a bit of texture.

  • Like most yeast breads, these are at their prime shortly after they're baked. If you want to keep them longer (good luck with that!), you can wrap them in waxed paper or plastic wrap, then in foil, and freeze them. When you're ready to serve, just thaw at room temperature and reheat on a baking sheet in a 350 degree F oven for 5 to 10 minutes, until warm.

  • Don't manhandle the dough. When you are forming it into a rectangular shape and cutting it, be as gentle as possible to avoid pressing out the air. Pat, don't punch or press!


Andrea said...

YUM! I almost never get my rolls so uniform looking. Yours look beautiful! I'm planning to make these with some whole wheat flour. Hopefully they'll turn out!

glamah16 said...

So that's how you got them all smooth, unlike mine. You know I use SAF, which I think is instant dry yeast, but I never make the proper adjustments. I need to do so.I love the stuff and keep it sealed in the freezer until ready to use.Great looking rolls.

Sandy Smith said...

~Andrea: Thank you! Looking forward to seeing a whole wheat version! (Love your knots!!)

~Courtney: Yours are yummy-looking too! I used SAF (instant dry granules) for this batch as well. It's not my usual yeast, but I've been test-running it lately. I keep it in a small jar in the fridge, and it works very nicely.

BTW, Your little sandwiches are inspiring me to make these again and pick up some rosemary ham at the deli! Mmmm.

Natashya said...

I was really excited when I saw that Gourmet was showcasing rolls this month too. I just cracked my mag open and haven't got that far yet. Looking forward to baking them up!
Your rolls look perfect - a wonderful accompaniment to soup or salad.

Mia said...

Oh YUM! They do look good. I want to make them, but I'll have to invite somebody over for dinner first *grin*

The Duo Dishes said...

They look so buttery and cheesey! Just delicious.

Jude said...

Good stuff. Loved that issue of gourmet and I'm so glad to have found another fellow bread nerd site :)

Sara said...

These look so professional! I love baking bread, I'll have to give this recipe a try.

Sandy Smith said...

~Natashya: Thank you! That was my reaction, exactly when I saw the magazine in my mailbox. Perfect timing for rolls ~ here in the freezing Northeast, there's nothing better than a good pot of soup and some nice rolls to take the chill off the day!

~Mia: Sounds like motive to me! :)

~Duo Dishes: Buttery and cheesy they are. Just be sure to use a decent Parmesan (like Parmigiano-Reggiano) or the flavor won't be as strong. Which is okay if you'll be topping these for sandwiches.

~Jude: "Bread nerd" ~ love it! :)

~Sara: Thank you! This recipe is definitely a keeper. I'm going to try it with a good-quality chedder, and maybe a Swiss, too!

Sara said...

Your rolls look beautiful.

I like instant yeast, too, and have a jar in my fridge.

Di said...

Ooh, I may have to go get a copy of that issue of Gourmet. Your rolls look really yummy. I love instant yeast. I haven't seen the 2-pound packages, but I routinely buy my yeast in 1-pound increments. I have a small jar that I keep in my fridge and refill as needed, while storing most of the yeast in the freezer.

Sophie said...

Your bread rolls look stunning!!!

Sandy Smith said...

~Sara, Di, Sophie: Thanks so much! :)

Claire said...

So so cute! I can't wait to try these for myself. I'll be referencing your tips, for sure!

kellypea said...

These turned out beautifully and your photos are excellent as always. I'm looking at the one where you're pinching a little dough ball and wondering if your camera has as much dough on it as mine does. Hahahahaha!Thanks for the info on the yeast differences. I just buy the pots of active yeast, but do believe I've tried the instant as well.

Samantha said...

I'm not convinced that all instant yeast are the same. I believe bread machine and rapid rise yeast have dough conditioners as well as ascorbic acid that aid in the quick rise. The SAF red instant I use does not have dough conditioners that I can tell by the ingredients. Now it might not make a difference in the bread made to use quick rise or bread machine yeast but still might not be the same as basic instant.

Your Parmesan rolls look devine!

Mo Diva said...

you make it look so easy!

Sandy Smith said...

~Samantha: Thank you!

I'm using SAF instant now, but I'm also a fan of Fleischmann's, and I was told by a customer service rep from that company that the instant yeast, breadmachine yeast, and RapidRise were all the same. Maybe what she meant was that they perform the same. Not sure, but I'd like to check into that. Thanks for making the point!


Samantha said...


If it's Fleischmann's it sound like you are right. I did a little digging and the ingredients do appear to be the same.

Red Star's bread machine yeast does state it has dough conditioners in it. Their quick rise does not so that may be basic instant.

My research on it all came from looking at the product pages for many of the store bought yeasts. What I can tell is bread machine, rapid or quick rise yeast and basic instant yeast are all instant yeasts but some may have other things added to them to speed things up.

I'm thankful I was able to get SAF at my local coop.

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