I've never been much of a baker. Sure, we learned the basics in culinary school- but chemistry has never been my forte, and baking truly is a science. I'm more of the creative type- a little bit of this, a little bit of that- and as much as I like working with my hands, you won't find me decorating cakes any time soon.
But there is something about bread... the smell of yeast, the feeling of dough between my fingers, soft and smooth, or shaggy and textured- there is an element of artistry to creating yeasted baked goods, it's all about the feel, and the ratios matter- but there is much more give, much more creativity and consciousness about creating the perfect dough. And so recently, I've fallen in love with bread creation. I'm still not at the point of creating my own recipes- and I haven't dared sourdough (yet), but I'm coming along.
And the interesting thing is, a couple years ago I wouldn't be caught dead with flour beneath my nails.
I used to fear food. A LOT of food. There weren’t many foods that I did allow myself to eat without fear. To put it in perspective: CARROTS were off limits in my low-carb phase. Carrots!!
Gluten especially has a huge reputation for being nothing short of the devil- and I KNOW it can cause huge problems with a lot of people, myself included when I was suffering from debilitating digestive problems, which is why I feared it for so long. But I spent a LOT of time healing my gut, and it wasn’t for nothing!! Though I don’t eat it daily, my body does perfectly fine with it now, because here’s the thing: save for celiac disease, severe intolerance and healing digestive issues/autoimmune disease, gluten is not going to kill you, friends. Really. A now hear me out: I completely agree that the wheat we consume today is not the wheat we ate 100 years ago, which is why at home, we choose spelt, einkorn or sprouted wheat- but you guys, that does NOT stop me from eating wheat when we’re out. Nor do the carbs, or the yeast, or anything else that is vilified in the ‘health’ community these days because food is food and I believe ALL food is a part of a healthy life- even gluten. Even carbs. How much feels good to YOU is how much feels good to YOU and no two people are going to be the same. Really. I'm still conscious about balancing my blood sugar, but I don't eschew carbs- or any food, for that matter. Fear has no place in a healthy life- so stop fearing food, friends. Find YOUR beautiful balance- gluten and all.
These dinner rolls originated and evolved from a beautiful recipe from The Minimalist Baker, and though I have changed quite a bit I must give credit where credit is due! The whole family loved them- even my littlest love, as they are egg and dairy-free (she has an allergy to eggs). We love the subtle sweetness the pumpkin and maple lend, still pairing nicely with savory soups and stews. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
Pumpkin Dinner Rolls (based off of this recipe from The Minimalist Baker)
2 cups organic all purpose flour, divided 1 package active dry rapid-rise yeast 1/2 tsp sea salt 2 tbsp coconut oil or butter, melted + more for greasing pan 2 tbsp maple syrup 1/4-1/2 cup almond milk 1/4 cup water 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1. Preheat oven to 375. Grease a round or square baking dish with coconut oil or butter.
2. Whisk together 1/2 cup flour, yeast and sea salt. 3. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil/butter, maple syrup, 1/4 cup almond milk, water and pumpkin. Warm in microwave or on stove until water is bearable to stick a finger in, but not too hot (this will kill the yeast). 4. Whisk wet ingredients into dry until mixture starts to come together. Add 1/2 cup more flour and beat or stir until dough is sticky. Add more flour with hands (up to another 1 cup) until dough is soft. If dough becomes dry, add more almond milk. 5. Remove to a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Cover in plastic wrap and let sit for 10 minutes. 6. After 10 minutes, remove from wrap and divide into 12 equal balls. Place in greased pan, cover and let rise in a warm place (typically on the preheating oven) until at least doubled in size, 30 minutes or so.
7. Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden. Let cool and serve. Make it pumpkin spice: Add 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice Make it sweeter: replace 2 tbsp almond milk with 2 more tbsp maple syrup (1/3 cup almond milk + 1/4 cup maple syrup)
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