Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Buttermilk Yeast Rolls and Cheesy Potatoes for Christmas Eve


It's true that it's New Year's Eve, not Christmas Eve, but we are catching up here. Happy New Years y'all!!


I'm still searching for the perfect dinner roll, but the ones I made for Christmas Eve dinner are mighty close. I used a recipe from Baking with Julia and although the original recipe was for a loaf of bread, with the bread made in a dough machine, I didn't actually change the ingredients, something I'm not known for. Being an experienced baker I knew that I could convert the process to make the dough in my trusty stand mixer and that the dough could then be divided into rolls at shaping time instead of being shaped into a loaf. Julia claims that you can also make the dough into bread sticks....maybe next time! These rolls were the perfect accompaniment to baked ham, potato casserole, steamed broccoli and salad. They were delicious without butter and decadent with.

The rolls were light but sturdy enough that they didn't collapse when you bit into them. They had a slight tang from the buttermilk, but were clearly yeast rolls. The bread lovers in the family enjoyed them immensely. I had never used powdered buttermilk before making these rolls, but I will make use of it now instead of fresh buttermilk, even though the reconstituted powder doesn't have the same creamy texture that fresh does. Usually that will not make a difference since my main use of buttermilk is for things like Irish Soda bread, scones, waffles, biscuits and that sort of baked good. I'm looking forward to seeing how the powder does next time I make the soda bread. I'll let you know.

Buttermilk Rolls
from Baking with Julia but made with a mixer and into rolls, not a bread machine and into a loaf. Instructions are my own.

3 cups (approximately) bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour (I used bread flour)
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons powdered buttermilk
2 1/2 teaspoons (one packet) active dry yeast
1 cup (approximately) room-temperature water
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, salt and buttermilk powder. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a bread hook, place the water, yeast and maple syrup. Let stand 10 minutes. The yeast will 'bloom'. Add the butter and start the mixer on low. Slowly and gradually add the dry ingredient mixture. The dough will form and 'climb' the dough hook. Knead with the stand mixer for 8 - 10 minutes. Turn the dough out into an oiled bowl or rising container, cover loosely, set in a warm place and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1.5 hours.

When dough has risen, turn out onto a lightly floured work surface, flatten with your hands and divide into 11 or 12 pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and put into a lightly greased 9-inch cake pan, leaving a little space between the balls so they can expand. Cover lightly with oiled plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. toward the end of the rising time.

Bake rolls in the preheated oven, reducing the oven temperature to 375 degrees F when you put the pan in the oven. Bake about 15-20 minutes, or until the rolls are golden to dark brown. Turn the rolls out onto a wire rack, separate and serve at once. Makes 11 - 12 rolls.


The other dish that was new that night was the potato casserole from Julia Child's classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Although I've made the Savoyard potatoes from that book, I had not tried her method for the classic gratin of potatoes. I used very thinly sliced Yukon gold potatoes, which lent the dish a nice golden glow, plus the milk and Swiss cheese that Julia recommends.


I made these a day in advance since the ham was going to take up the oven, which meant that I added additional milk when it was time to reheat the casserole. A key step here is to make sure that the baking dish is not too deep. Mine was somewhere between 1.5 and 2 inches deep. This depth allows for plenty of exposed potatoes across the top of the casserole, allowing the excess water in the milk to evaporate and also allowing the cheese and milk to form a nice crust on top. Quite a few guests had seconds, so I know that this was a hit. It probably would be at your house, too, and it's not hard to make. Who can hate cheese and potatoes?

Gratin Dauphinois
(Scalloped Potatoes with Milk and Cheese) from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck

2 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes (6-7 cups when sliced), (or other boiling potatoes)
A fireproof baking-serving dish about 10 inches in diameter and 2 inches deep (if recipe is increased, dish must be wider but no deeper) - I used a 9 x 13-inch baking pan, like the kind you use for brownies, and it worked very well
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt (I used garlic salt for 1/4 of it instead of the fresh garlic that Julia calls for)
1/8 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
1 cup (4 oz) grated Swiss cheese (I used diced Swiss)
1 cup boiling milk

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Peel the potatoes and slice them 1/8 inch thick. Place in a basin of cold water. Drain when ready to use.

Smear the inside of your baking dish or pan with 1 tablespoon of the butter. Sprinkle with 1/4 of the salt, and use garlic salt if you can. Drain the potatoes and dry them in a towel. Spread half of them in the bottom of the dish. Divide over them half the remaining salt, and half the pepper, cheese and butter. Arrange the remaining potatoes over the first layer, and season them. Spread on the rest of the cheese and divide the butter over it. Pour on the boiling milk. Set the baking dish over heat and when simmering, set in upper third of preheated oven. Bake for 20 - 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender, milk has been absorbed, and the top in nicely browned. (As the oven is hot, and the dish shallow, the potatoes cook quickly.)

Since I cooked mine in advance (the day before), I brought the cooked potatoes to room temperature, preheated the oven again, poured about 1/2 cup milk over the top of the potatoes, and put the pan in the oven for another 10 minutes. By that time the milk was absorbed, the potatoes sizzling hot and just a little more browned on top.
Serves 6

1 comment :

Elizabeth said...

Mmmm!! Those are two of my favourites, Buttermilk rolls (especially shaped that way so the sides are soft after being pulled away from their neighbours) and Dauphinois potatoes!

I'm a big fan of powdered buttermilk. It keeps forever in the freezer and doesn't take up much room at all. But if we have forgotten to replace it, plain yoghurt works well as a substitute.

Happy New Year!!