Embellish Your Feast with a Wreath of Rolls

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

 Toasted Quinoa and Herbed Potato Rolls 

A Thanksgiving feast without homemade bread?  Can’t imagine. 

 Whether you’re in charge of the whole meal or making a contribution to a shared feast, make a splash with this recipe for Toasted Quinoa and Herbed Potato Rolls.  It’s not a variety you’ll likely find at your local bakery or grocery.  Mashed potato keeps the rolls moist so less fat is needed to make a tender bread. The toasted quinoa adds nutritional novelty and crunch.  The rolls are baked in the shape of a wreath that can serve as an edible centerpiece and offer sweet symbolism as you “break bread” with family and friends.  Place a whipped flavored butter, another spread or a beautiful candle in the center. 

 Quinoa had been an important food in the diet of people in the Andes mountains of Bolivia, Peru and Chile for some 5,000 years.  It’s popularity is no surprise – it’s as easy to cook as rice and is highly nutritious.  A 1/4 cup (dry) serving has 6 gram of protein, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 3 grams of fat, 156 calories and is a significant source of folate, B1 and B6 and minerals, including copper, iron and magnesium.  Technically not a grain, quinoa is actually the seed of a leafy plant related to beets and spinach. It’s important to rinse the quinoa in a strainer under running water for a few minutes to remove the saponins, a soapy substance that is a natural pest repellant for the growing plant.  (Rinse until the water runs clear.)  Some manufacturers take care of this step for you – read the label.  I use the most common, golden-colored quinoa for this recipe but red and black quinoa are worth trying in other recipes.

 If you’ve never made bread before, know that, unlike other forms of baking which are generally formula-driven, bread is quite forgiving.  The key is to keep the dough a tad sticky by not adding too much flour as you knead and shape the dough.  I spray my work surface and hands with a little oil to keep the dough workable. I make my dough in a 2-lb. bread machine but you can also offer yourself an old-fashioned gift of time and make it by hand, a process that can be  a relaxing break fromother  life duties.

 Consider baking two of these bread wreaths and offering one as a gift.  There’s no more thoughtful gift than something made by your own hands (perhaps with the help of a few modern appliances).  And you don’t need to bake at the last minute.  The wreath can be wrapped airtight and frozen.  Thaw at room temperature and refresh by heating gently in a 350° oven wrapped in foil for a few minutes.  In my opinion, the best bread is served warm.

 Wreath of Potato-Herb Rolls with Toasted Quinoa

 3/4 cup lowfat buttermilk or milk

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup mashed cooked, peeled potato

1 large egg

2 tablespoons canola or other vegetable oil

4 teaspoons granulated sugar

2 teaspoons dried Italian herb seasoning*

1 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour

1/2 cup quinoa, toasted (directions follow)

2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

 Bread Machine: Combine ingredients in bread machine pan according to manufacturer’s directions. Process in dough cycle (Mix, knead and let rise once.)  After dough is mixed for a few minutes, open the lid and check dough.  It should form a soft ball that the blade easily moves around the pan.  If it is too loose or too dry, add water or flour, a tablespoon at a time to adjust the consistency.  Remove dough from pan, shape, rise and bake as directed below.

 By Hand: In a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup all purpose flour, quinoa, yeast, sugar, herbs and salt.  Stir to blend well.  Substitute ¾ cup milk for buttermilk.  Heat milk, water and oil to 120°.  Stir into dry ingredients.  Lightly beat egg and stir in along with mashed potato. Stir in enough of the remaining all purpose flour to make a soft dough.  Turn out onto lightly floured surface.  Knead dough until smooth and elastic, 6 to 8 minutes.  Place in oiled (or coated with nonstick spray) bowl.  Lightly oil top of dough.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.  Punch dough down and shape, rise and bake as directed below.

 To shape, rise and bake wreath: On lightly floured or oiled work surface. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces.  Roll each to a rope about 9- or 10 inches long.  Tie each into a knot.   Place rolls around edge of a lightly oiled 14-inch pizza pan, about 1/4-inch apart, or arrange on a large baking sheet.  Cover. (I coat the top of the dough with nonstick spray and cover with plastic wrap.)  Let rise 30 to 45 minutes or until almost doubled in size. Uncover.  Bake at 375ºF for 18 to 20 minutes or until done.  (Instant-read thermometer reads 190°F.) Cool on wire rack.  Makes 1 bread wreath (12 rolls).

 *Or use a single herb such as thyme or blend equal amounts of a few herbs such as thyme, marjoram and crumbled rosemary leaves. Or use 2 tablespoons of very finely chopped fresh herbs.

 To toast quinoa: Place 1/2 cup quinoa in a strainer and rinse under running water until water runs clear. (You can skip this step if the package label states the product has been rinsed and is ready for use.)  Place in a large skillet over medium-low to medium heat.  Heat, stirring often, first to dry the grains and then to toast them until fragrant and light golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes.  Cool. 

 For shiny rolls:  Lightly beat an egg white with a little water and brush on the rolls before baking.

 Copyright © Lorelle S Del Matto 2011

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

About lorelle

Crazy about cooking, eating and sharing good food – my work and leisure revolve around the kitchen. As a culinary dietitian my professional life encompasses nutrition counseling and education, recipe development, product development, food and nutrition writing, marketing communications, corporate test kitchen and consumer affairs management, food styling and work as a product spokesperson.

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