GREEK WALNUT AND CURRANT ROLLS
According to scholar and writer Nicholas Stavroulakis, in the Cookbook of the Jew of Greece, it was the custom in certain communities in
Greece to celebrate the end of Passover by making rolls studded with walnuts and dried currants. A fast-moving dough is needed, because
the idea was eat chametz, "leavened bread," as soon as possible after sundown, and churek dough makes a perfect choice. While the daintiness
of currants — which are actually a kind of small raisin called Zante — is very attractive in these small rolls, raisins could be substituted. I use a
very generous amount of currants and walnuts, which makes for dense rolls; if you prefer lighter rolls with less fruit and nuts, halve the amounts
of currants and walnuts.
Makes: About twenty-four 2 ounce (60 gram) rolls
Recipe Synopsis: Make a yeast slurry, then beat in the remaining ingredients and mix the dough. Let the dough rise for 1 1/2 hours.
Shape the loaves and let rise for about 1 hour. Bake the rolls for 1 hour.
Time Required: About 5 1/2 hours
| (CLICK TO BUY)
1 1/2 teaspoons (0.2 ounce) instant yeast
About 4 1/4 cups (20 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) warm water
1 1/4 cups (6.5 ounces) currants
1 1/2 cups (6.5 ounces) walnut pieces
1 large egg, plus 1 for glazing
1 large egg yolk
2 1/4 teaspoons (0.4 ounces) table salt
1/3 cup (2.6 ounces) vegetable oil
|Mixing the Yeast Slurry|
In a large bowl, whisk together the yeast and 1 1/4 cups (6 ounces) of the flour, then whisk in the warm water until smooth.
Let the slurry stand uncovered for 10 to 20 minutes, or until it begins to ferment and puff up slightly.|
|Preparing the Currants and Walnuts|
While the slurry is fermenting, swish the currants around in a bowl of warm water, then drain in a strainer.
Blot off excess water with a paper towel. Coarsely chop the walnuts into currant-size pieces.|
|Mixing the Dough|
Whisk the whole egg, yolk, salt, and oil into the puffed yeast slurry until smooth. With your
hands or a wooden spoon, stir in the remaining 3 cups (14 ounces) flour all at once. When the
mixture is a shaggy ball, scrape it out onto your work surface and knead it until it is well mixed,
fairly smooth, and soft, no more than 10 minutes. (Soak your mixing bowl in hot water now to
clean it and warm it for fermenting the dough.) If the dough is too firm, add a tablespoon or two
of water to it; if it seems too wet, add a few tablespoons of flour.|
The dough should feel soft, stick to itself easily but not to the work surface, and be easy to knead.|
When the dough is fully developed, knead in the currants and walnuts just until thoroughly incorporated.
This is a large amount of ingredients to incorporate, but with a little persistence, all the currants and walnuts
can be forced in.|
|Fermenting and Turning the Dough|
Place the dough in the warmed clean bowl and over it with plastic wrap. (Or, the dough can be refrigerated
right after kneading, then removed from the refrigerator to finish fermenting up to 24 hours later.) Let the
dough ferment for about 1 hour. (If it has been refrigerated, this may take an extra 30 to 60 minutes.)|
To turn the dough, flour a work surface and the top of the dough. Pull the dough out of the bowl and set it
upside down on the floured work surface. Gently press the dough to flatten it slightly, then fold the sides into the middle.
What was originally the top of the dough should be taut and smooth and the raisins and walnuts better incorporated.
Put the dough back in the bowl smooth side up to finish fermenting until at least doubled in bulk, 30 minutes to 1 hour
longer, depending on the temperature in your kitchen.|
|Shaping and Proofing the Dough|
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or oil them. Roll the dough into a long thick strand and cut it into 24 equal pieces.
Flatten the pieces with the palm of your hand and pinch the bottoms to create round rolls. Arrange them on the baking sheets,
leaving plenty of space around them, and cover with plastic wrap. (At this point, the rolls can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.)
Let the rolls proof until tripled in size, about 1 hour (or up to 2 hours if they have been refrigerated).|
Meanwhile, 30 minutes before baking, arrange the oven racks in the upper and lower third positions and preheat the oven to 425°F.
If you wish, preheat baking sheets in the oven to double with the baking sheets the rolls are on. Beat a pinch of salt into the remaining egg to
use for glazing the rolls.|
|Baking the Rolls|
When the dough has tripled and does not push back when gently pressed with your finger but remains indented,
brush the rolls with the egg glaze. Bake the rolls for 20 to 25 minutes, or until very well browned. After the first
15 minutes of baking, switch the pans from front to back and top to bottom so that that the rolls brown evenly.
When the rolls are done, remove them from the oven and let them cool on a rack.|
Excerpted from A BLESSING OF BREAD copyright © 2004 Maggie Glezer.
Reprinted with the permission of Workman Publishing Co., Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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