There was a time when I baked bread once a week. What happened to that? Maybe it’s because now you can go to a market and buy bread that tastes like your grandmother made it. Actually today’s artisan bakers bake bread that is probably better than whatever we remember from our childhood.
I was invited to lunch with girlfriends and decided that some home baked bread would be a nice addition to our meal. I kept thinking about rolls that I had baked years ago. I knew they came from an old edition of Bon Appetit and so I tried doing a search to find the recipe. No luck on the internet so I went to a filing cabinet where I saved four or five very old issues of the magazine. The cover of one featured baguettes and the heading “oven fresh homemade bread” and I realized my search had ended. The rolls were called “Mrs. Russo’s Rolls” and described as being “well crusted”.
If you like sesame seeds, then you’ll love these rolls. The recipe calls for 1 to 2 cups of seeds and at first I thought that was going to be too much, but you dip the entire roll in the seeds so you get a burst of sesame flavor in every bite.
While these are baking be sure to take out the butter and let it soften. You’ll want to spread some on and sample a roll while it’s still warm-take my word for it!
Mrs. Russo’s Sesame Rolls
4 cups water (120ºF to130ºF)
1 tablespoon salt
1 table spoon sugar
8 to 9 cups unbleached all purpose flour
3 envelopes dry yeast
1 to 2 cups sesame seeds
Lightly grease a large bowl and muffin tins, set aside. Place sesame seeds in a separate bowl.
Combine water, salt and sugar and stir to dissolve granules. Combine 4 cups flour and yeast in a mixing bowl. Add water and beat until well combined, about 3 minutes. Leave in bowl and cover with plastic wrap and a damp towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled.
Add remaining flour to risen dough and knead until dough is smooth, elastic and well blended-dough will be very sticky. Place in greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and hot damp towel and let rise in warm place until doubled in volume.
Punch dough down and knead briefly. Shape into balls (you’ll get about 36 rolls from this recipe). I found it best to first divide the dough into thirds and then divide each piece into 12. Shape into balls (oil hands to make shaping easier). Roll each ball in sesame sends and place in muffin tins. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place until doubled.
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Bake rolls until golden brown, about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from pans and cool on racks.