Mar 7, 2013

Crusty Spinach, Feta and Sun-Dried Tomato Bread Rolls

I know what you're thinking. Have I gone off my rocker? What happened to being gluten-free? That, dear readers, is the beauty of these rolls -- they are gluten-free. And sugar-free. But they don't taste it. The vegetarian's been heating them up for after-work snacks and every time I bite into one my first thought is: "I'm cheating; I'm so going to regret this." But of course I'm not. And I don't.

They're also my most successful venture into gluten-free (and yeast) baking to date! How can it contain yeast and still be sugar-free? The sun-dried tomatoes have enough sugar that the yeast feeds off of them without any sugar necessary! And a successful gluten-free free adaptation of a "normal" recipe that I had bookmarked but couldn't imagine being able to try. What recipe, you ask? This one from Sass & Veracity, a blog I happened to stumble upon while on my endless search on how to sneak more cooking greens (like spinach) into our diet.

And these fit the bill perfectly. Have them plain, as a snack, with a plate of Burrata & Tomatoes, an Asparagus Tortilla, Sungold Tomato & Cannellini Bean Dip or Watermelon, Feta and Arugula Salad. And of course a glass of Research Cab. Bon appetit!

Crusty Spinach, Feta and Sun-Dried Tomato Bread Rolls
adapted from Sass & Veracity

Pour two inches cold water into a pot and add spinach. Place heat on high and steam 5-10 minutes, until spinach is wilted. Remove and drain. When cool, wrap spinach in a clean dishtowel and ring out excess moisture. Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together yeast, salt, spinach, feta and tomatoes. Place egg whites into a measuring cup and add lukewarm water until you have 3 cups of liquid. Stir into the spinach mixture. Add flour one cup at a time and stir gently with a wooden spoon just until combined. Cover bowl with a clean dishtowel and place in a cold, turned-off oven for 2 hours to rise (this is always the scary part for me!).

After dough has risen (phew!), prepare your baking pan: place a sheet of parchment paper on it and sprinkle with cornmeal. Now divide your dough into ten even-sized pieces. The dough will be a little sticky but easy to work with (at least mine was). If you need to, sprinkle with a little bit of extra flour. Roll (in your hands) into a ball, then place on your prepared baking pan. Repeat nine more times with the rest of the dough. Place in the oven for 30 minutes to rest.

Remove pan from oven and allow to rest an additional 30 minutes. Place a tray (I used a roasting dish) on the bottom rack of the oven and preheat to 450F.

After dough has rested sufficiently, dust the tops of the rolls with flour and snip an X into the top of each with clean kitchen scissors. Slide the baking pan with the dough into the oven, on an upper shelf. Fill up a measuring cup (or two) with VERY hot water -- as hot as your tap can get. Pour this water into the dish at the bottom of the oven. Close the door quickly (you're creating steam to help the rolls cook evenly. Bake 20 minutes. Cool before serving. Enjoy!


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