There’s these rolls at Costco, with the La Brea Bakery label, that are so versatile, and such a perfect star for summer dinners: tomato, basil, fresh mozzarella and balsamic vinegar sandwiches, BLTs, grilled veggie paninis, grilled cheese with cherry jam and basil, etc. But, I hate going to Costco just to buy these rolls (because I can never leave without spending at least $50, even though my kids emerge happier than when they went in), so I was delighted to see this recipe in a King Arthur Flour magazine. And, they are totally great–not quite the same texture as La Brea, but they have their own great texture and a way shorter list of ingredients! Plus, I used half whole wheat–my miracle cure for the great ail of the American diet. Note that you have to start the biga, or starter, a day in advance, which is a great thing to do right as your cleaning up dinner or just before bed. It feels so good to start a new day with some bread already in the making! Plus, rolls are the perfect summer bread, because they don’t have to bake nearly as long as a loaf, so I can turn my oven off quicker!
Chewy Italian Rolls
For the Biga
- 1 1/2 c. flour
- 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
- 1 c. water
- 1/8 t. instant yeast
For the Dough
- biga (from above)
- 2 1/2 c. flour (I substituted half of this amount with whole wheat)
- 1/2 c. water
- 2 t. salt
- 1/2 t. instant yeast
To make the biga: Mix all of the ingredients until well blended. Cover the bowl, and let rest at room temperature for 12 to 20 hours, until the mixture is very bubbly.
To make the dough: Mix the biga with the remaining ingredients for 2 to 4 minutes, using an electric mixer set on slow speed. Increase the mixer speed to medium, and mix for about 4 minutes; the dough will be soft and slightly sticky. Add additional water or flour if necessary.
Let the dough rise in a greased bowl, covered, for 1 to 2 hours, until very puffy.
Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, and shape it into a 6″ x 12″ rectangle. Using a bench knife or pizza wheel, cut out eight 3″ square rolls. Place the rolls, floured side up, onto parchment paper. Let them rise for about 45 minutes, lightly covered, until they’re puffy.
Place a baking stone in the top third of your oven, and preheat the oven to 450°F.
Bake the rolls for 13 to 15 minutes, until they’re golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and cool on a rack.
Yield: 8 rolls.