Sunday, July 3, 2011

Not Your Grandmother's Dinner Roll: Cilantro-Scallion Bread

One of the many reasons why I love cooking from food magazines: when I am using a recipe from one and see another recipe right next to it that I absolutely must make at that moment. This is what happened last weekend as I was working on the marinade for the delicious Green Shawarma Salmon in this July’s Bon App├ętit. Two pages later, there is a recipe for Cilantro-Scallion Bread that immediately tempted me. The picture was enticing as well: swirls of golden bread, sprinkled with sesame seeds, and filled with something green. I had extra cilantro left from the salmon recipe, I had scallions in the fridge that I needed to use up, and I always keep ingredients to make bread on hand, so how could I not try this recipe out?
If you’ve ever made cinnamon rolls before, you’ll find the process of making this bread familiar. If you’ve never made cinnamon rolls before, don’t worry, because it’s a pretty simple procedure. Start with making your dough, and proofing for about an hour and a half, until it doubles in size.
My dough proofed a little more slowly than the recipe said it would, but I think that’s because my yeast is getting old. So, if you’re using older yeast, expect the proofing to take longer. Another note: I halved the recipe, which is always a little bit risky when it comes to bread because the chemistry is so delicate. In baking, when scaling recipes up or down in size, one is supposed to use a system using percentages so that proportions stay as precise as possible. I was lazy about it this time, and simply halved everything, and it worked out fine, so if you want to make six rolls instead of twelve, go ahead and do the same.
Meanwhile, you can make the filling, a combination of scallions, cilantro, sesame seeds, and olive oil. The recipe calls for both black and white seeds, I only had white, and yet, the sky did not fall, so use what you’ve got. Once your dough has proofed, roll it out into a rectangle, and then spread the filling over it to cover it.
Here is where your memories of cinnamon roll making will come rushing back to you, if you’ve got them. Roll the dough up tightly. Next, slice the roll into ¾” slices. Use a very sharp knife, or use a good serrated knife, one that won’t tear the dough to shreds. A dull knife will squish your roll down, tear the dough, and leave you with some very unhappy looking swirls. Your hopefully-happy swirls can then be transferred onto a baking sheet, get brushed with olive oil, and then into the oven they go.
In half an hour, they should come out golden brown and ready for dinner. The addition of eggs, sugar, and butter make this a rich bread, but I didn’t find it to be overly sweet or fatty. It had just the right amount of richness to compliment the flavourful filling and the nutty sesame seeds. I don’t normally serve bread with fish, but like I said, this recipe called to me while I was making salmon, and so I made an exception. The two recipes complimented each other well, and the meal was excellent. But how could any meal involving freshly baked bread not be excellent?

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