Thursday, January 6, 2011

Pennsylvania Dutch Tea Rolls

These tasty rolls were a deliciously fun baking project - they will take a whole morning or afternoon, although most of that time is inactive rising time, when you can get other things done around the house.  To measure the flour accurately, spoon into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Try the rolls alongside Gardein's chick'n scallopini for a simple weeknight dinner, or serve them as the Pennsylvania Dutch historically did - at tea time with a smear of jam.

  • 5 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 and 1/3 cups warm non-dairy milk (between 100 and 110 degrees)
  • 1 package yeast (about 2 and 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 cup vegan sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted and cooled vegan butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Ener-G egg
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 tablespoons plain non-dairy milk
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1. To start, combine 2 cups flour, the warm milk, and the yeast in a large bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let stand for 1 and 1/2 hours - doing so forms a 'sponge' that adds a depth of flavor to the final product.  Your mixture will be very bubbly and should almost have tripled in size by the end of the hour and a half.

2. Add 3 cups additional flour, the sugar, the butter, the salt, and the Ener-G egg to the yeast mixture, and stir for about 3 minutes with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is well combined.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 minutes.  You can add as much of the remaining 1/4 cup flour as you need, a tablespoon at a time, to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands, but I found that I needed only a pinch of extra flour.  For quick kneading instructions, see this link:

3. Place the dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, and turn so the top of the dough is coated as well.  Cover and let rise for 1 and 1/2 hours - an unheated oven is warm and free from drafts...ideal rising conditions.

4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface; lightly dust with additional flour, and pat into a 10x8-inch rectangle.  Make 3 lengthwise cuts and 4 crosswise cuts in the dough, so you have 20 equal pieces.  Shape each piece into a ball, and place them at even intervals in a 13x9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Lightly coat the tops of the dough with cooking spray, then cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour.

5. Brush 3 tablespoons milk evenly over the tops of the rolls; sprinkle evenly with the poppy seeds.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes - they should be browned on top by the end.  Cool the rolls in the pan for 5 minutes, at which point you can serve them warm or cool completely on a wire rack.  I found it helpful to use a knife to gently pry them apart from one another, since the edges of the rolls fuse as they puff up during baking. 

Nutrition Info:
20 servings (1 roll), Calories 173 

Tasting Notes:
This may sound odd, but the rolls tasted like they were right out of a grocery store package - in the best way.  That is to say, perfect hints of sugar and butter in each bite, a decadently soft and chewy interior, and a delicious taste that I wouldn't have believed I was able to produce at home if I hadn't, well, just made them myself.  The texture was maybe only the slightest bit too tough, because I think I overworked the dough while separating it into 20 equal portions, but it didn't detract from how great the rolls were overall.  It's not often that a bread recipe earns a rating so high in my kitchen!


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