Michael challenged his readers to give this recipe a try. He adapted it from a recipe he saw in a recent issue of Saveur. According to him, the most important thing about baking is using a scale. When measuring in cups, the volume of flour varies greatly so it is essential to weigh it out. He even offers you a great deal on a scale if you don't already own one. I was fortunate enough to receive an awesome one for Christmas a couple years ago so I weighed out all my ingredients (recipe at the end of the post) and put them in my Kitchen Aid mixer with the bread hook and let it work its magic.
Buttermilk Roll Dough
It really was as easy as measuring out all the ingredients, putting them in the mixer and turning it on medium for 10 minutes or so. Once the dough was smooth and elastic, I covered it with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge to let it rise overnight. Alternatively, I could have left it out on the counter and baked it after a few hours but it was already late and I wanted to eat them the next day.
I took the dough out of the fridge the next afternoon and let it come to room temperature. The dough had at least doubled in size. I kneaded it for a couple of minutes and cut the dough into 9 equal portions. Michael recommends 4 oz portions but I actually baked them away from my house and I forgot my scale so I just eyeballed it. I kneaded each individual dough ball and formed it into a boule following some of the recommendations I read from Michael's readers. It is important to knead them enough to make sure you get all the gas out of each ball.
After each boule was formed I placed them in my newly purchased springform pan, brushed them with egg wash, sprinkled poppy seeds on the top, and put them in a 375 degree oven. As the bread was baking, the house filled with a delicious aroma.
Fresh Buttermilk Rolls Out of the Oven
After 40 minutes I took them out and was amazed how well they turned out. I got a lot of rise out of my dough.
After Removing the Spingform Pan
They had a nice crust on the outside.
Soft and Flaky on the Inside
I was very pleased with how my rolls turned out. They had a nice crunch on the outside but were soft and flaky on the inside. They had a great flavor that reminded me of sourdough but it was not as dense. I wish I knew how much each boule weighed because they were huge rolls. When I make them again I will cut down on the size and maybe even spread them between two pans to have more, smaller rolls.
I am so glad I decided to give this a try because it was so easy and it will encourage me to bake more of my own bread.
Buttermilk Cluster Rolls
28 ounces/800 grams AP flour (5 1/2 cups if your scale is broken but no guarantees!)
20 ounces/570 grams buttermilk, room temp or microwaved for 40 to 60 seconds to take the chill off it
1/4 ounce/7 grams (1 package) active dry yeast
1/2 ounce/14 grams kosher salt (1 tablespoon)
1.5 ounces/40 grams honey (2 tablespoons)
vegetable spray or butter for greasing a springform pan (can use 9-inch cake pan but may be hard to remove rolls)
1 teaspoon poppy seeds (or as desired)
1 tablespoon melted butter, optional (good for photos!)
Combine the flour, buttermilk, yeast, salt and honey in the bowl of a standing mixer. Mix on medium till the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. (See this post on Bread Baking Basics for more info on mixing and rising.)
Cover and let rise till doubled in volume (dough shouldn’t bounce back when you press a finger into it). This will take at least two hours, maybe three or more depending on the temperature of your dough and the temperature of your kitchen.
Turn the dough out onto your counter and give it a good knead. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions (about 4 ounces each). Form each into a tight boule by rolling it on the counter. Spray or butter a springform pan. Fit the boules into it, cover it with a towel and let the dough rise for an hour.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F./190 degres C. Whisk the egg till it’s uniformly yellow.
When the rolls have risen again, brush them with the egg wash, sprinkle them with poppy seeds and bake them for 40 minutes (to an internal temperature of 195-200 degrees F./90-93 degrees C. Let them rest for about 10 minutes before serving.
Serves 12 adults or 4 hungry children. Serve with soft, soft butter. Mmmmm.