I needed to make some nice soft buns for sandwiches and hopefully burgers if it ever stops raining. I’ve made a version of these several times and they never fail to disappoint.
I really love the grains I’ve been getting from Barton Spring Mills and replaced the rye in the original formula with Rouge de Bordeaux freshly ground Whole Wheat. I’ve been doing 2 passes through my Mockmill 200 sifting with a #30 and then a #40 to get a real fine whole wheat flour.
The butter and ricotta combination really made for a wonderful soft and open crumb. These rolls came out excellent with toasted onions, smoked cheddar and black sesame toppings for a nice variety.
These are a rather high hydration dough when you take the water content of the ricotta cheese and eggs into account so be warned :).
Tangzhong is the technique of heating a portion of the flour and liquid in your recipe to approximately 65C to make a paste (roux). At this temperature the flour undergoes a change and gelatinizes. By adding this roux to your final dough it will help create a soft, fluffy, moist open crumb. It is also supposed to help prevent the bread from going stale.
It is not very difficult to do a Tangzhong. Use a 5 to 1 liquid to solid ratio (so 250g liquid to 50g flour) and mix it together in a pan. Heat the pan while stirring constantly. Initially it will remain a liquid, but as you approach 65C it will undergo a change and thicken to an almost pudding like consistency. Take it off the heat and let it cool before using it in your recipe. Some people will refrigerate it for a while but you can use it right away as soon as it cools.
Levain Directions Build 1 (Using AP Starter at 66% Hydration for Seed)
Mix all the levain ingredients together for about 1 minute and cover with plastic wrap. Let it sit at room temperature for around 7-8 hours or until the starter has doubled. I used my Proofer set at 81 degrees and it took about 4 hours.
Main Dough Directions
Prepare the Tangzhong per directions above and allow to cool to room temperature.
Mix the flours, Tangzhong, eggs, ricotta and water together in your mixer or by hand until it just starts to come together, maybe about 1 minute. Let it rest in your work bowl covered for 20-30 minutes. Next add the salt, butter, and starter (cut into about 7-8 pieces), and mix on low for a minute. I have a Ankarsrum mixer and mixed on low speed for about 20 minutes until I had a nice smooth dough. It may take less time if using a Kitchen Aid so mix as needed.
Remove the dough from your bowl and place it in a lightly oiled bowl or work surface and do several stretch and folds. Let it rest covered for 10-15 minutes and then do another stretch and fold. Let it rest another 10-15 minutes and do one additional stretch and fold. After a total of 2 hours place your covered bowl in the refrigerator and let it rest for 12 to 24 hours. (Note: I have a proofer set to 80 degrees F. and only let it proof for 1.5 hours.)
When you are ready to bake remove the bowl from the refrigerator and let it set out in a warm place around 80 F temperature still covered for 1 hour. Remove the dough and cut into equal size pieces and shape into rolls. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and cover with moist tea towels or plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray. (Note: I made these 150 grams each on average)
The dough will take 1.5 to 2 hours depending on your room temperature. Let the dough dictate when it is read to bake not the clock.
Around 45 minutes before ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees F. and prepare it for steam. I have a heavy-duty baking pan on the bottom rack of my oven with 1 baking stone on above the pan and one on the top shelf. I pour 1 cup of boiling water in the pan right after I place the dough in the oven.
Right before you are ready to put them in the oven, using a simple egg wash brush each roll and sprinkle on your topping of choice. Next add 1 cup of boiling water to your steam pan or follow your own steam procedure.
After 1 minute lower the temperature to 435 degrees. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the rolls have some nice color and the inside is around 200 degrees F.
Take the rolls out of the oven when done and let them cool on a bakers rack before for at least 1 hour before eating.