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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Honey yeast knots

Another crazy, busy Saturday for my family.  We showed up at Aaron's parents' house to find out that we had two extra guests for dinner.  Aaron's nephews spent Spring Break at Grandmother and Papaw's house.  Luckily breakfast casserole can be made to feed an army.  I had pre-made a dozen biscuits this morning so dinner only took about 45 minutes to get together.

Before we went to Aaron's parents' house we had to color our Easter eggs.

Anticipating a huge mess with a 17 month old, I set up the cleanest possible way I could think to do this.  I got a large rubbermaid box, made six bowls, each with a primary or secondary color in it (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple)
, had a dozen boiled eggs ready to dye, and then just did each egg a solid color.  Also, I got the child as close to naked as I was comfortable with, even though I expected her to dye herself blue and not match her dress for tomorrow.

Her dress, thanks to her Aunt Anna (my best friend who is like a sister to me) and Great Aunt Cathy (Anna's mom).

Aunt Anna came to visit for dinner Friday with a basket of goodies for Bailey, including the dress and two other outfits.  She has seven eggs each full of a different treat, a cookie, and a stuffed ducky.

Anyway, back to the eggs.

We decided to do two of each color and for some reason Bailey got really stuck on those red eggs.  She kept picking them up and playing with them.  She started trying to say the colors with me when I was pointing to them though, and she got purple, blue, red, and yellow.  She couldn't quite say green or orange, but hey, that's a great start!

As I had expected, she ended up with her hands and at least one leg covered with food dye.  Luckily Aaron was able to get most of it off (probably thanks to getting in the tub before the dye had a chance to dry on her skin) and I don't think it will be noticeable at church.

While Aaron got Bailey all cleaned up, I dried off the eggs and cleaned the floor and the bowls.  Once Bailey was all clean I let her see what a good job she did!  I was very excited about this activity because I love dying eggs.  I always have.  When I was in college I would still go to Mom's every Easter and dye eggs.  I couldn't wait to do this with my kids, but last year Bailey was only 5 months old on Easter.

I ended up dying them myself last year.  I tried the "crack before you dye" method.  You crack the shell without removing it and then soak the eggs in super-saturated color.

This is how they look once you remove the shells.

They made some really interesting and beautiful deviled eggs.

So our lovely eggs are also destined for deviled eggs.  I'll do that tomorrow right before we leave the house. Tonight I decided to get a head start on the rolls.  The other night I experimented with a recipe that I was already quite fond of and came up with something I like even better.  I took the honey yeast roll recipe I already love and made them into knots.  I was serving them with cheesy taco soup so I didn't want them to be too sweet, and I love how pretty the knots are.  They look so difficult but really they're super simple.  I am still going to include the honey-butter glaze in the recipe because you could certainly still use it even on the knots, but the whole point of this was to make them less sweet so I left it off this time.

My directions for mixing the dough are slightly different than the original.  I like to mix the salt into the flour before adding the other ingredients.  Since salt can interfere with the yeast I like to keep the two from being in direct contact whenever possible.

Honey Yeast Knots

1 package instant yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
1 cup lukewarm water (105-115 degrees)
1/4 cup honey
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 cups flour (I used all-purpose even though the original recipe says bread flour)
1 1/4 tsp salt

Honey-butter glaze:
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbsp honey

In a 2-cup measuring cup sprinkle the yeast over the water and set aside.  In a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) combine the flour and salt and mix with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.  Add the honey, oil, egg, and water/yeast to the flour mixture.  Mix with the spoon until the dough begins to form or pull away from the sides of the bowl.  Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes (or switch to the dough hook and knead for about 8 minutes).  Form into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl (I like to use the same one I mixed it in, sprayed with vegetable oil spray) and turn once to coat.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft free area until doubled in size, about 2 hours.  (Most recipes will say "about 2 hours" and sometimes it turns out only about 1 1/2 hours, but every time I've ever made these they take at least the full 2 hours to rise.  Don't be discouraged if you check on it after 30 minutes and the dough doesn't look like it's changed at all.)

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead about 30 seconds.  Divide into 10-12 equal pieces.  (I use my kitchen scale.  I measure the weight of the entire dough, then divide that by 10 or 12 and portion them out exactly equally by weight.  Yes, I'm a bit obsessive.)

For the original recipe now is where you would form each piece into a ball and place them about 1 inch apart on a baking sheet (or cram them all into a 9-inch round pan, which didn't work out so well when I tried it).  You allow the rolls to rise for 20-30 minutes, combine the melted butter and honey, brush the butter/honey mixture over the rolls, and them bake them in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

To make the knots take one piece of dough.

Roll it out into a snake, about 10 inches long.

Drape the dough over your hand with your index and middle finger stretched out and separated (think a peace sign).

Pull the dough around from the back of your hand and pull it through the loop to make a knot.

Take the ends of the dough and tuck the top end through the hole on the bottom and the bottom end through the hole from the top.  Pinch the two ends together in the center of the knot.

Continue for the remaining pieces of dough, placing the knots about 1 1/2 or 2 inches apart on a large baking sheet.  (I like to use my 16 inch pizza pan.)

Cover with a clean towel and set aside for 20-30 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

At this point you could mix the honey and melted butter together and brush it over the knots.  You could also use plain melted butter or you could leave them plain.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Allow to cool slightly before serving.

As this is my first time posting a bread recipe, please do not hesitate to comment if you have any questions.  My pictures and directions are not always clear (even in my head so don't worry if you don't understand me because sometimes I don't understand me either).  I am happy to help in any way I can.

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