Friday, March 16, 2012

Hunger Games Challah: Capitol Rolls

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Stop!  Before you do anything, go check out Leigh Ann's version of Peeta's Bread, my recipe which inspired Hunger Games Challah to exist in the first place.  Leigh Ann added millet and dried cherries in with the apples and ended up leaving out the cinnamon in a later batch -- she says she prefers without cinnamon.  She's even has a gluten-free version in the works.  Maybe we can get her to do another guest post.  You can see her other two guest posts - Blueberry Challah and Sufganiyah Challah.  Be sure to leave Leigh Ann a comment on how awesome her bread looks (and how much you like her WIP!).

So, are you soooo excited for The Hunger Games to come out in theaters???  We have our tickets for tomorrow evening after Shabbat, and boy-oh-boy am I excited.  The Hazz is even coming, although he hasn't read any of the books.  He's being a good sport.  Anyway, here we go.  It's Hunger Games Challah #2 - Capitol Rolls.
The moment I slide into my chair I'm served an enormous platter of food.  Eggs, ham, piles of fried potatoes.  A tureen of fruit sits in ice to keep it chilled.  The basket of rolls they set before me would keep my family going for a week...   
A rich brown cup of something I've never seen. 
"They call it hot chocolate," says Peeta.  "It's good." 
...When my stomach feels like it's about to split open, I lean back and take in my breakfast companions.  Peeta is still eating, breaking off bits of roll and dipping them in his hot chocolate.
I thought it fitting the second in my series of Hunger Games Challah be the Capitol Rolls.  But rolls are just rolls, right?  Not so... later in The Hunger Games, we learn a bit more...
Chicken and chunks of organs cooke din a creamy sauce laid on a bed of pearly white grain, tiny green peas and onions, rolls shaped like flowers, and for dessert, a pudding the color of honey.
Aha!  Rolls shaped like flowers.  That shouldn't be so hard.  I've done rolls before.  Using my basic 1/2 batch, I started out.

Really, though, they didn't look like flowers.  They just looked like knotted challah rolls.  Hmm...hg_knots05   hg_knots06

I even tried a new roll shape...
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I though perhaps I could make some sort of rose out of challah.  Another failed attempt.
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Nope, it looked wrong.  But then I got to thinking about it.  Basic challah dough doesn't really cut it. The Capitol is all about excess.  All about over doing it.  All about, well, lots and lots of butter.

My trusty Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook was my inspiration.  I decided that brioche rolls were the way to go.  Brioche is a French pastry that is sort of a cross between a cake and bread, hallmarked by lots of butter and lots of eggs.  Of course, it was now noon on Friday afternoon and I had a 1/2 stick of butter in the house.  So, I improvised.  Here's what I came up with.  I think you'll approve!

Capitol Rolls

These butter, eggy babies are darling.  This recipe will yield about a dozen.   If possible, you'll want to use shaped silicone muffin cups with a floral shape.  But really, a muffin tin would be just fine if you can imagine the floral shape.  Here's what you'll need...

1 tsp instant or active dry yeast
2 tsp sugar
1/2 c hot (but not boiling) water
2/3 c cake flour
1 1/2 c (or so... see below) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs plus 1 for wash
1/2 stick (1/4 c) butter (not margarine)


Mix together the yeast, sugar, and water.  Let rest for ten minutes until foamy.  Add the eggs and butter in small pieces.  I was having a hard time getting the butter to blend in, even after softening it a bit.  I ended up using my stand mixer with the spatula-beater handle on the lowest setting possible.  That worked pretty well.
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Add the cake flour and 1 cup of the all-purpose flour and the salt.  (This weird combination comes from the fact that really brioche should have pastry flour which has a protein content in between that of cake flour and all-purpose flour.  The internet told me I could mix them ;) so I did.  Hey, I'm resourceful?)  At this point, the dough is going to look, really, really, really sticky.  Put it on the stand mixer anyway (with the hook) and mix away.
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My stand mixer, I soon realized, wasn't doing much.  Okay, I took out my new mixing soon (isn't it so pretty) and started adding more flour until the consistency seemed like really floppy bread dough.  Like, extra floppy.  Have faith.  It will work out.
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Form into a ball and let rest for about 1 1/2 hour or until doubled in bulk.
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Preheat your oven to 350.  Form the rolls by making a ring with a little ball plopped on top.  If you're using silicone baking cups, you don't have to oil them or anything.  Egg wash right before baking.  (You'll notice I didn't let these have a rise once formed... I don't think they really needed it).
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Bake 20-25 minutes or until the tops are golden.
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So, they're not really brioche, but they're certainly brioche inspired, and they're not quite as flower-shaped as I would have liked... they're still super tasty.  And who knew that dipping bread in hot chocolate was so delicious!?!  Well, I guess Peeta knew.  What a guy.  *swoon*
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Happy Hunger Games and Shabbat Shalom!

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