Tonight for dinner we had salad and the 'Rosettes of Venice' rolls from Carol Field's The Italian Baker. I don't know why I never tried them before, but they were fabulous! The recipe wants 500g of biga, and I had 486g of biga in the freezer, so I declared that was enough biga to attempt these. They take about 5-ish hours from start to finish. They look like hole-less bagels or kaiser rolls, but are much softer than either of those...maybe the 1/2 cup of olive oil had something to do with it. The recipe said you should get 12 to 14 rolls, but I made only 8. At that size, they'd make wonderful sandwich rolls, which I intend to verify tomorrow.
Soft and tasty, with just enough sugar to notice. They're glazed with egg white, and I decided they also would benefit from a sprinkle of sesame or poppy seeds, and just enough kosher salt to give them a little bite.
To make the biga:
Mix by hand, mixer, or food processor:
1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup plus 1 Tb. plus 1 tsp. room temp. water (weird measurement, I agree)
330g unbleached all-purpose flour
Let the yeast stand in the warm water about 10 minutes. Add remaining water, then the flour, a cup at a time. Rise the biga in a covered bowl at room temp. for 6 to 24 hours. Then you can refigerate or freeze it till you need it, or you could use it immediately after it's risen, I suppose.
To make the rosettes:
1 tsp. active dry yeast
2 Tb. warm water
1/2 cup olive oil (the recipe wants 1/4 cup lard and 1/4 cup olive oil)
3 Tb. sugar
300g unbleached all-purpose flour
1 beaten egg white for glazing
Combine yeast and 2 Tb. water in a large bowl. Let stand about 10 minutes. Add oil, sugar, and biga. Mix by hand or in a mixer till biga and liquids are fairly well blended. Add flour and salt and mix or knead until dough comes together. Knead by hand (8-10 minutes) or mixer (3-4 minutes on low speed) until dough is moist and elastic. I used a Bosch mixer, and on low speed, the dough really didn't come together well. After a couple of minutes, I finished kneading it by hand.
Put the dough in a bowl rise, covered with plastic or whatever. Let rise about 2 hours, at approx. 75 degrees F.
Dump the dough onto a lightly floured counter and pat or roll to 3/4 inch thick (mine were thinner, maybe 1/2 inch). Use whatever you have to cut out a circle of dough, about 3-5 inches in diameter, depending on whether you want small rolls or sandwich buns. Here's the tricky part, so read it a few times:
Assuming you're right handed, place your left thumb at the 9 o'clock position of the dough circle, with the end of the thumb in the middle of the circle. Use the other hand to roll the dough from the 12 o'clock position down to the thumb. Rotate the dough clockwise until the left 'point' of the roll that you just made is at the 12 o'clock position. Place your left thumb again at 9 o'clock and roll that section of the dough down again toward your thumb. Rotate and repeat the rolling until you have a sort of kaiser-type of roll shape, with leaves or petals of dough on top of the roll, or whatever you can describe them as. Press down the middle of the roll to ensure the 'leaves' stay put. I decided that as long as the rolls weren't flat, I was in the ballpark. I didn't take photos of this step, since, not knowing how yummy they'd be, I had no idea I'd be posting anything!
Place the rolls on a lightly oiled or parchment covered baking sheet. Cover with plastic or a towel, and let rise till doubled, approx. 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours. In the last 15-20 minutes of the rise, turn the oven on to 400F. When the oven is ready, brush the rolls with beaten egg white. Add any toppings you desire. Bake about 20 minutes. I rotated the pan halfway through baking. Mmmmmmmmmm!!!