Garlic Knots – Little Bites of Heaven

As the summer season progresses, I sometimes run out of creative ideas and begin asking the crew what they want me to make. Pretty much anything is on the table as long as I can make it on the woodstove and without electricity (meaning something with a lot of whisking is off the table). Not too many years ago, we had a crew member of Italian decent who was from New York, and he asked me to make garlic knots. I’d never heard of them, being from the Midwest and having lived in Maine the better part of my life.

He was flabbergasted. So I looked them up and fashioned my own recipe. And aren’t they just little bits of heaven?  There’s always more to learn.

Dressed and ready to pop into your mouth
Tied in a knot and proofing on a baking sheet


Garlic Knots
Dough
3/4 tablespoon dry active yeast
1 teaspoon table salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Garnish
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic; about 2 cloves
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
several grinds of fresh black pepper
1/2 ounce grated Romano cheese; 1/4 cup lightly packed

Dough
Combine the yeast, salt, and flour in a large bowl. Stir in all the remaining ingredients, reserving 1/4 cup water. Mix thoroughly and add the reserved water if needed. Knead for 5 to 10 minutes or until smooth. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and set aside in a warm, draft-free place to rise for 1 hour or until doubled.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place a pan filled with stones in the bottom of the oven or alternately, prepare a squirt bottle of water. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll the dough into 4 long logs and cut each log into 5 equal lengths, making a total of 20 small logs. Roll each piece again briefly and then tie into a loose knot. Arrange evenly on a baking sheet, cover, and allow to rise again until doubled. Place the pan in the oven, add water to the stones in the pan (or squirt the oven with water), and quickly close the oven door. Bake for 20 minutes or until an internal-read thermometer registers 190°F.

Garnish
Meanwhile, combine the butter, oil, garlic, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and set aside. Transfer the hot knots to a large bowl, toss with the butter mixture, and sprinkle with Romano. Serve warm.
Makes 20 garlic knots

Ready to eat!

 

Basic Bread Recipe

Bread dough is one of the most versatile things you can make in your kitchen AND one of the hardest to write a recipe for because it’s such a visual and tactile process.  It’s also intimidating if you’ve never done it.  The good news is that even if your first try is a complete flop (and that’s not a given), the ingredients, primarily flour, water, yeast and salt, are all inexpensive.

I’d like to try to take the mystery out of bread making, mostly because the results are so worth the effort.  But really, when a recipe reads  ‘cover and let rise 1 hour or until dough has doubled’ or ‘knead until smooth and elastic.’  What does that mean!?  These are all phrases that I’ve used in my recipes, but there are times when I just wish I could show people.  Well, most of the time I wish that.

Stromboli served on the Schooner J&E Riggin

These are the directions for a basic bread recipe that ran in the Portland Press Herald column this week.  I used it in a stromboli recipe and it’s  very forgiving.

Combine the yeast, salt, and flour in a mixing bowl.  With the dough hook attachment of the mixer, mix on low speed.  Add 3/4 cup of water and olive oil.  When the dough begins to form a ball, add more water a tablespoon at a time until the little bits of flour on the bottom of the bowl start to work into the dough.  Knead on medium low speed for 5 to 7 minutes or until the surface of the dough begins to be very smooth and the dough is elastic.

Oil the top of the dough, cover with either a plate or plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm, draft free place to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

‘Combine the yeast, salt and flour in a mixing bowl.’

  • You combine the dry ingredients first so that you don’t end up with clumps of yeast or salt when the water is added.  

‘With the dough hook attachment of the mixer, mix on low speed.  Add 3/4 cup of water and olive oil.  When the dough begins to form a ball, add more water one tablespoon at a time until the little bits of flour on the bottom of the bowl start to work into the dough.’

  • Adding the water a little bit at a time towards the end is important.  Moisture content in flour will vary as will the protein.  Both affect how much water you should add.  It’s better to adjust the amount of water rather than the amount of flour.  More flour changes the ratio to yeast and salt, whereas more water changes nothing.  The dough should just barely come away from the sides of the bowl.
  • Here you could also knead the bread by hand.  It’s not that hard, but the technique is, again, easier to show than to write.  Once the dough has formed a ball in the bowl, transfer it to a floured countertop.  Pull the far side of the dough towards you and push it into the ball.  Give the dough a 1/4 turn and repeat.  If it sticks to your hands or the countertop, dust with flour.  Sing a song.  Keep going.  Sing another song.  Keep going.  It becomes rhythmic and aerobic as you work the dough into a smooth ball.  It should stop sticking to the counter top and your hands and the surface looses it’s mottled look and develops an unblemished surface.

‘Oil the top of the dough, cover with either a plate or plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draft free place to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.’  Now this refers to how long the dough should rise of course, but there’s so much that ends up being left out of the recipe for the sake of brevity and so as to not put off 90% of readers who, if I added every single instruction, would quickly click to another recipe.  Anything longer than a page and it’s too daunting.  What the recipe could also include is:

  • Rising times may vary because of ambient temperature.
  • The reason you oil the dough is so that the surface doesn’t dry out and impede rising.
  • Draft free is important because significant air movement will lower the surrounding temperature and cause the dough to take longer to rise.
  • If it’s winter, you consistently wear three layers in your house and you are still cold (like in my 100 plus year old house), then you could turn the oven to 170 degrees and let the dough rise on the stove top.
  • When the dough has doubled in size, it will have a smooth, dome shape and the dough, when you poke it with a finger, shouldn’t bounce back.

This was only half of the instructions, I’ll post the rest of the instructions/comments tomorrow.  Hope this was helpful.  Write if it wasn’t.

Annie

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