Introduction: Oat Flour Rolls
On rainy, miserable afternoons, I like to get into the kitchen and invent new recipes. Today, I decided to make rolls but I didn't want just plain wheat flour rolls. I was out of whole wheat flour so I decided to make oat flour from oatmeal.
Like my previous 'ible, I list every step with some kitchen science at the end. The last section is so you understand why and how things work in the recipe. I find that understanding the science behind a recipe helps me create new recipes.
If you try this and like it, let me know. If you try variations on the recipe, share them!
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Step 1: The Ingredients
If something is listed more than once (like sugar or water), it's because you use different amounts of them at different times in the recipe.
2½ cups uncooked oatmeal
¼ cup warm water (105 to 110°)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 package rapid rise yeast
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 cup warm water (105 to 110°)
Step 2: Making Oat Flour
2½ cups of oatmeal will yield 2 cups of oat flour.
I used the small food processor attachment that goes with my stick blender. I milled a quarter of a cup of oatmeal at a time so I could get an even, smooth product.
I put a quarter cup of oatmeal in the food processor and ran it for about 10 seconds. I shook the container slightly to redistribute contents then ran it for another 10 seconds.
The final oat flour will be less coarse than cornmeal but not as fine as all purpose flour. If you don't find it fine enough, continue the step above until the flour is smooth.
Step 3: Proofing the Yeast
Yeast consumes sugar and gives off carbon dioxide which is what makes bread so light and fluffy. Before you can do this, you have to wake it up by "proofing" it.
In a small bowl, dissolve 1 teaspoon of sugar in ¼ cup of warm water (105º). The kitchen science section below will explain why this temperature. Sprinkle the yeast over the top of the water and allow this to sit in a warm spot for 5 minutes which is just enough time to do the next step.
Step 4: Mix the Dry Ingredients
In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon of sugar. A wire whisk mixes this together pretty well.
Step 5: Bringing It All Together
After the yeast is proofed, with your mixer on low speed, add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 1 cup warm water (105º), the yeast mixture and 1 large egg to the dry ingredients. Mix until it forms a thin batter. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally with a rubber spatula.
With a heavy wooden spoon or a paddle attachment on your heavy duty mixer, stir in the two cups of oat flour. Mix until thoroughly blended.
Stir in the remaining all purpose flour. This should make a stiff dough.
Knead with the dough hook on your heavy duty mixer for about two minutes or knead by hand for 10 minutes on a lightly floured surface. When finished the dough should be smooth, elastic and not sticky.
Step 6: The First Rising
In your clean mixing bowl (you did clean it, didn't you?), add about a teaspoon of vegetable oil. Drop the dough ball into the bowl and turn to completely coat the ball with a light layer of oil. Cover the bowl with a towel and place in a warm spot.
Allow the dough to rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
Step 7: The Second Rising and Baking
Punch the dough down. Yes, that's almost exactly what it sounds like. Push your fist into the center of the dough ball. Now gather the dough into a ball again. Look in the kitchen science section to see why this is done.
Place the dough ball on a lightly floured surface and cover with a bowl. Allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes before proceeding.
In order for my rolls to be a consistent size, I like to weigh the dough then divide the weight by the number of rolls I want. In this case, 922 grams of dough resulted in 12 rolls that were about 77 grams each. No, you don't have to be that precise but after years of making rolls of different sizes, I decided to be more consistent.
Shape into round balls. I like to give my rolls a coating of shortening so they have a soft crust. If you omit this step, lightly grease your baking sheet. Place evenly on a baking sheet.
Cover the rolls with a light towel and allow to raise for about 45 minutes to an hour.
In the last 10 to 15 minutes, heat your oven to 425º. Bake the rolls about 20 minutes until golden brown.
Step 8: Kitchen Science!
This section is to explain how things work when baking bread and why we do what we do.
Proofing the Yeast
Yeast is a living organism. It digests sugar and gives off alcohol and carbon dioxide as waste products (if you're worried about the minute amount of alcohol in your bread, it has a low evaporation point and will cook off). That carbon dioxide gets trapped in the flour mixture and forms bubbles which is what makes bread light and fluffy.
When you proof the yeast, you're basically waking it from a dormant state by feeding it a bit of sugar. And the temperature of the water, while not critical, is still pretty important. Too cold and the yeast remains dormant. Too hot and you kill it. My experience has shown me that between 105 and 110º is just about right.
All Purpose Flour
Why did I add this to make oat flour rolls? Oat flour doesn't have enough gluten to make a good bread. Gluten is a long strand protein molecule that makes the dough nice and elastic. Without this elasticity, the bubbles made by the yeast won't form and you'll wind up with an unappetizing lump of cooked oat paste. You have to do the same with corn bread or pretty much any bread made with a whole grain.
Punching Down the Bread
The first rising creates large pockets of air in the dough ball. If you cooked it at this point, you'd get a very light but stringy and horribly uneven roll. Punching the dough down pops these large pockets and your bread has a smoother texture. The second rising makes smaller bubbles which is what we're aiming for.
Coating with Shortening
Because the outside of the roll is going to get hot first, the water will cook out of it faster. If you put a barrier, such as a coating of shortening, it keeps that from happening so quickly and you get a softer crust on the roll. If you want a crisper crust, just omit this step but be aware that the rolls will seem a bit dry. If you want a really crisp crust, brush on an egg white wash (one egg white mixed with a tablespoon of water).
The shortening also keeps the rolls from sticking to your baking sheet so if you don't coat them with shortening, give your baking sheet a light coating of it. Otherwise, you'll spend the next several hours scraping and cleaning the bottoms of the rolls from your baking sheet.