Yeast is very tricky. When I first started baking bread almost 20 years ago, I didn’t understand what the big deal was. I realized later that I was just getting lucky. I never used a thermometer to make sure the water or milk was the right temperature to proof the yeast, I just felt it – and gambled. I had a really great streak going for quite a while. Until one day, my yeast just didn’t look at bubbly as it usually did – but I made the bread anyway. That’s when I figured out why it was so important for the yeast to proof before mixing in the ingredients. My dough didn’t rise – I had killed the yeast because my water was too hot.
Now I actually use a thermometer to check the liquid before adding in the yeast. I saw this recipe in Cooking Light, and it caught my eye because it was an overnight yeast batter. I had to give it a try. The only problem was when I finally decided to make them (in order to have them ready for the next night’s dinner) it was 9pm. The recipe looked pretty easy though, so I decided to go for it. For some reason I couldn’t for the life of me get the yeast to proof. The water seemed to be the right temperature, so maybe it was the yeast? Whatever it was, I just didn’t see any action happening at all. After 3 attempts, I decided to try just one more time – I was getting very tired, and extremely frustrated. The fourth time worked – and the rolls were delicious. Don’t be alarmed when the dough doesn’t rise after sitting in the refrigerator over night – they still bake beautifully. Eat them right out of the oven, and if you happen to have a nice pot of soup to go with them – you will be even happier.
- 1/2 teaspoon dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons warm water (100° to 110°)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/3 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1.1 ounces whole-wheat white flour (about 1/4 cup)
- 5.6 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 1/4 cups), divided
- Cooking spray
- 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
Dissolve yeast in 2 tablespoons warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes or until bubbly.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add thyme to pan; cook 1 minute or until bubbly and fragrant. Add thyme mixture and milk to yeast mixture, stirring with a whisk; add 1/4 cup cheese, sugar, salt, and egg, stirring well.
Weigh or lightly spoon whole-wheat white flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Using a wooden spoon, stir whole-wheat white flour into yeast mixture. Weigh or lightly spoon 4.5 ounces (about 1 cup) all-purpose flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Add all-purpose flour to yeast mixture, stirring well. Add enough of remaining all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to form a smooth but very sticky dough. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and refrigerate overnight. (Dough will not double in size.)
Remove dough from refrigerator. Do not punch dough down. Turn dough out onto a floured surface; sprinkle dough lightly with flour. Roll dough into a 12 x 7–inch rectangle. Brush dough with remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup cheese evenly over dough; sprinkle with pepper. Beginning with a long side, roll up dough jelly-roll fashion. Pinch seam to seal (do not seal ends of roll). Cut roll into 8 (1 1/2-inch) slices. Place slices, cut sides up, on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until rolls have risen slightly.
Preheat oven to 400°.
Place pan in oven, and immediately reduce heat to 375°. Bake rolls at 375° for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.
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