Saturday, February 9, 2008

Speedy(Not) Dinner Rolls

If you think you're about to get a great recipe, browse through your favorites (IE) or bookmarks (Firefox...or is it Foxfire?) -- see, I know some computer lingo -- and hit another site now. Try, where good cooks will warn you of all the mistakes not to make. You do not want me explaining to you how to do anything. Trust me. I know these things.

At 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, I'd said, "I can't think this morning." I have to be able to think by 8:00 a.m.every morning, because that's when Bammy is served his breakfast: bowl, plate, glass, fork, spoon, egg, 1 cup cereal, honey drizzles, 8 ozs. milk, 9 units insulin, 7 pills-herbs-vitamins-minerals-animal oils. I have to think. Since I roll out of the sack between 4:00 and 5:30 most mornings, pity those of you who receive my blatherings via email during those earlier hours, and 'xcuse me all over the place, because some mornings I'm still braindead at 8:00 a.m.

So I'd made my confession early in the day. I can't think. And this one stuck, as I repeated it around 10:30 a.m., and you know, that thinker never did sharpen. Around noon:30, I remembered I was supposed to bake bread: specifically, hamburger buns. Too late for lunchtime, but they could be ready by dinnertime, so I set about that task, double-boiling a concoction of cornmeal and other stuff. I have no idea now what the other stuff was. The cornmeal goo was to cool a bit before more stuff was added, so it was cooling when I set my hands to the yeast and water: two packages of yeast; ¼ cup warm water.

Two packages. Two packages. I rummaged through my brain. I don't buy my yeast in packages, but in bulk; I'm all about comparing unit pricing, don'tcha know. Okay, one package is 2¼ tablespoons (<----mark that word...and go ahead and laugh at me right now, if you want to). Math is not my forte on a good day, and this was an I-can't-think day, but I managed to multiply 2¼ tablespoons of yeast and added 4 tablespoons of yeast to my empty bowl. Which of those other measuring spoons I then employed to cover the remaining, multiplied fraction, I can't tell you. Even two minutes later, I had no idea whatsoever which one I'd used. But when I added a quarter cup of warm water and observed the hastily formed, sticky mountain of yeastmuck, I rammed the spoon into the top of the mountain (it stood straight up, looking right solidly fixed in that mess), and I stood back to think.

Two packages. One package is 2¼ teaspoons, two packages would...!!! Teaspoons! I just used 12 teaspoons, plus...and see, that's the moment at which I realized I didn't have the vaguest clue what other measurement I'd added. I'd added some other measure. So technically, I didn't really know how much yeast was in the mess I'd made, and I was rather happy about that, because it meant I needn't bother my silly head with reverse mathage. (I think it's a fine word, so go with it -- mathage.)

I hate waste, so I wasn't about to throw away the gloppy mountain of yeast and begin again. I eyeballed the mass, pried out my approximation of 4½ teaspoons of yeastmuck, and proceeded with my bun-making. With that waste-thing hammering in my head, I then flipped back a few pages in the cookbook and hit Speedy Dinner Rolls. I hadn't made them in several years, having switched to Lion House Rolls, but speedy sounded really good to me, so I set about to use some more of the muck.

More eyeballing and scooping. Then the phone rang, and I was holding it with one hand, while I smooshed around yeastguck in milk with the other, coaxing the guck to disperse itself. Eventually, I had a bowl of bun dough and a bowl of roll dough. (Remaining mountain of yeastguck went to the wastebasket, fatigue having overridden abhorrence of wasting.) I'd used over 10 cups of flour, and I was probably going to have, as a result, a hefty sackful of CowNot treats.

Now our house isn't the warmest home this side of the Mason Dixon Line. Where is the Mason Dixon Line? Which side am I on? Well, it's just not all that warm here, wherever I are, so I set the bowls on the floor in front of a space heater. I reckoned that abused yeast needed all the help it could get. And I was right. Hours later, it was still struggling to develop the slightest pouff. Double? Yeah, right. In my dreams! Okay, it probably didn't help any that I'd forgotten the bowls in the floor, slightly transgressing the doorway space, and had given both a good kick as I walked into the room in the early evening. Speedy Dinner Rolls. *harumph*

Then Uncle Kemtrail came to visit, I forgot about my dough, and at midnight:something, I set the bowls on the table and went to bed. Truth be known, the Speedy Dinner Roll dough was beginning to look pretty pouffy, but I wasn't in the mood to form rolls at midnight-something, so I left it overnight.

Friday morning: the speedy dough had obviously maxed, collapsed, and formed a rigid crust. Now you've done it! Well, this is no time to give up. So I punched and kneaded the crust into the dough, formed rolls, and set them on the counter to attempt a second rising. The bun dough was actually standing tall, but that was mostly because I'd also abused it by adding too much flour, and the crust it had formed rivaled a sheet of plywood in strength and rigidity, which couldn't have collapsed if I'd left it another 5 days. So I repeated the punching and kneading process with the bun dough, formed buns and left them to do their thing...if'n' they had a mind to.

By 3:30 (on this, day two), those Speedy rolls had risen. Yeastmucked, kicked, collapsed, crusted, punched, prodded...and they looked like rolls. Could it be? Could they have survived the punishment? I fired up the oven, shoved those puppies in, and warned everyone, "Now don't get too excited. There's no way they can turn out tasty and good."

Well, would you look at that. "Yeah, but no telling what they're going to taste like or what the texture will be," came an unconvinced voice from one of the witnesses to the two-day, Speedy Roll debacle.

I'll tell you what: I've never baked a better tasting, better textured dinner roll in my life.

T.h.e.y - w.e.r.e - m.a.g.i.c.a.l. Fluffy, fine-textured, delicious. Perfect.

Could I ever repeat the performance? 1) No. 2) Do I have stupid stamped on my forehead? 3) No.

But I'm mighty thankful that I didn't waste 10+ cups of flour (and cornmeal and eggs and oil and sugar and salt).

What about the buns, you ask. Well, they sorta look like buns. But given the recipe was supposed to make 18, and I barely prodded 9 out of the abused mass of stiff dough, I suspect they're DENSE. Probably even dry, gaggy, stick-in-the-throat offerings. The CowNots will love me. They'll think I'm wonderful. They'll think I'm runnin' the best bakery this side of the Mason Dixon Line.

And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. John 3:635

1 comment:

Janie said...

How funny!!!!!!! I thought this kind of thing only happened to me...ha ha. The rolls looked great, even if they took a couple of days. I imagine you were wondering if you were going to have to use the whole thing as masonry grout or something. Glad that it all turned out in the end.