35% Whole Wheat Sourdough Milk Rolls
The restaurant in Petty Harbour Nfld that always made the best lobster rolls I have ever eaten disappointed me for the first time this past July. Because of that, I decided I wanted to make rolls that I could use to make shrimp rolls. Lobster is crazy expensive at the moment and my partner isn’t a fan of it, so why bother with lobster. I wanted to make the rolls so that two sides could be toasted in butter on my cast iron skillet. The slice in each roll would be vertically cut rather than horizontally so these would not be hotdog buns. This is what I came up with.
Mix the levain ingredients in a jar or pyrex container with space for at least 300% growth.
Press down with your knuckles or silicone spatula to create a uniform surface and to push out air.
At a temperature of 76-78ºF, it typically takes up to 10-12 hours for this sweet stiff levain to be at peak. For my starter I typically see 3-3.5 times increase in size at peak. The levain will smell sweet with only a mild tang.
In a sauce pan set on medium heat, stir the milk and whole wheat flour until blended. Then cook for several minutes until well thickened, stirring regularly with a spoon or heat-resistant spatula. Let cool in the pan or, for faster results, in a new bowl. Theoretically it should reach 65ºC (149ºF) but I don’t find I need to measure the temperature as the tangzhong gelatinizes at this temperature. You can prepare this the night before and refrigerate it, ensure that it is covered to prevent it from drying out.
If you plan on using a stand mixer to mix this dough, set up a Bain Marie and use your stand mixer’s bowl to prepare the tangzhong.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the milk (consider holding back 10 g of milk and adding later if this is the first time you’re making this), egg, tangzhong, salt, sugar and levain. Mix and then break up the levain into many smaller pieces. Next add the flour. I like to use my spatula to mix until there aren’t many dry areas. Allow the flour to hydrate (fermentolyse) for 20-30 minutes. Mix on low speed and then medium speed until moderate gluten development this may take 5-10 mins. You may want to scrape the sides of the bowl during the first 5 minutes of mixing. Next add room temperature butter one pat at a time. The dough may come apart, be patient, continue to mix until it comes together before adding in more butter. Again, knead until well incorporated. You will want to check gluten development by windowpane during this time and stop mixing when you get a good windowpane. You should be able to pull a good windowpane, not quite as good as a white flour because the bran will interrupt the windowpane somewhat. Add the nuts and seeds, then mix again until they are well distributed.
On the counter, shape the dough into a tight ball, cover in the bowl and ferment for 2 - 4 hours at 82ºF. There should be some rise visible at this stage.
You can next place the dough into the fridge to chill the dough for about 1.5 hours, this makes rolling the dough easier to shape. Remember, if you do so the final proof will take longer. Alternatively, you can do a cold retard in the fridge overnight, however, you may find that this increases the tang in your bread.
Prepare your pan by greasing it with butter or line with parchment paper.
Lightly oil the top of the dough. Scrape the dough out onto a clean counter top and divide it into six. I like to weigh them to have equal sized buns. Shape each tightly into a boule, allow to rest 5 mins. Next form each boule into a roll by first flattening it out, then rolling it up pinching the ends if you like smooth ends. Place them side by side in a pan that supports the side, the ends are fine unsupported by the pan.
Cover and let proof for 4-6 hours at a warm temperature. I proof at 82°F. You will need longer than 4-6 hours if you chilled your dough for shaping. I proof until the dough passes the poke test.
Preheat the oven to 350F and brush the dough with the egg-milk wash. Just prior to baking brush with the egg-milk wash again.
Bake the loaves for 30-35 minutes or until the internal temperature is at least 190ºF, rotating as needed to get even browning. Shield your loaf if it gets brown early in the baking process. Cool on a rack and while warm brush with butter if you want the crust to be soft. You can also place them in a plastic bag while they are still warm (not hot).