And now for something completely different - Provolone rolls

As I gear up for more bread baking this year I like to play around with some of the variables involved in the process - refrigerated slow rising doughs, proofing and resting times, scoring patterns, creating steam in the oven, high heat "hearth" baking - you name it.  Lots to learn.

I have a recipe for prosciutto and provolone bread from the 2004 edition of CIA's "Baking and Pastry:  Mastering the Art and Craft".  I've made it a number of times over the years without the prosciutto, finding the sensa carne version made with a sharp provolone to be just the ticket with a hearty chili or beefy soup or stew.  The base recipe has a huge yield of almost 15 pounds of dough, so in previous preparations I've paired it down and made only a quarter recipe, dividing that amount of dough into four torpedoes or batards of about 370 gm (13 oz) each.

This time, since Steve was making a big pot of chili over the weekend, it seemed oh so right to make smaller provolone rolls to serve along side.  Based on the weight of my chunk of provolone (200 gm) I adjusted the recipe down even more with the plan to make ~60 gm size (a skosh over 2 oz) rolls.  This also brought the dough quantity into the perfect range for my 6 qt Kitchenaid.

This is a direct dough - no starter, preferment, poolish, biga or what-have-you - ingredients are combined, kneaded, given a bulk rise, then divided, pre-shaped, bench rested, final shaped, final proofed and, last but not least, baked!  Whew!

I've been drawn more and more to recipes that call for a longer, slower bulk fermentation in the refrigerator, so I decided to take that approach this time.

les ingredients

The recipe calls for bread flour, but this time I substituted all purpose flour for about a fourth of the flour amount.  I wanted to see how that would ultimately affect the crumb of the final roll.

So here's the recipe I ended up with:  combine 370 gm bread flour, 100 gm all purpose flour and 6 gm instant yeast; add 290 ml tepid water, 47 gm olive oil, 13 gm soft butter, and 11 gm salt.

ready to start mixing

Mix with dough hook on low speed for 4 minutes then medium speed for 2 minutes . . .

then add 200 gm grated provolone and mix 1 more minute on medium.

go provolone!

The dough looked and felt great - here it is in its early boule form.

My plan involved a short 30 minute room temp bulk ferment with a fold halfway through, then into the fridge in a lightly oiled covered container overnight.

On baking day I took the dough out of the fridge and let it hang out on the counter for about 30 minutes to acclimatize itself.  Then I divided it into seventeen 60 gm pieces which I then preshaped into boules.

After all the boules were preshaped I covered them with lightly oiled plastic wrap and gave them a 20-30 minute bench rest.  Then I "re-bouled" them into their final shape.  I could tell a difference in the feel of the dough after that bench rest - more relaxed and easier to manipulate.  I like that.

ready for final proofing

I put the sheet pans in my oven at the 85º proofing setting and gave them a solid 1.5 - 2 hours to rise.  I went for a simple crossed scissors snip on the top of each.

they feel just right!

With the oven heated to 425º I threw a splash of water in to create some steam and popped those babies in.  They baked about 20 minutes, looking nice and golden brown and offering a sign-of-doneness hollow thump when tapped.

can't wait to try 'em!

Next time I'd be a bit more aggressive with my scissor snips, but I was pretty happy with the final result.

I brushed a little melted butter on the warm rolls . . .

and lined them up to cool on a rack.

They were indeed the perfect accompaniment to a bowl of chili.  The texture was superb - I think the all purpose flour gave them a less chewy and somewhat gentler crumb, if you will.  While the exterior still had a hint of crustiness, it was easy to tear or bite into.  The provolone offered a subtle presence, so next time I'd add more of a sharper version than I had on hand for this go-around.  A delightful, well rounded roll.

Yes, I would make these again!