Not so cheesy!

Baking bread has always been a challenge. Truly, there’s nothing more satisfying than looking at yeast proofing or the dough doubling up in size! It’s like a miracle unfolding in front of your eyes. I’d been wanting to try pull-apart rolls for the longest time but I’d more misses than hits to my credit. I was almost at the point of giving up when a fellow baker said that sometimes it helps when you start completely afresh.

So that’s what I did – bought flour, yeast, cheese, oil and all the other ingredients and decided to start from scratch. Originally I set out to make garlic and masala rolls but I just couldn’t resist the temptation of adding cheese. Not that I’m not a fan of cheese, I love the gooey stuff, but it all goes and settles on my hips so I always see red when I look at a cube or slice of cheese. However the fiance LOVES cheese so I’m game to experimenting with this dairy product now!

Chilli cheese toast has been one of my favourite breakfast dishes right since when I was a kid and I’ve got loads of memories of stuffing these down for a hurried breakfast, nibbling on it as a snack after school and as I was growing up this is what I’d tuck into when I needed something hot, delicious and quick when I got home after tiring day at work. Since I often bake eggless, this recipe is egg-free too and I’ve used flax seed instead, this gives the bread a really soft texture and a delicious, nutty crumb which goes well with the other flavours in it.

Melted, golden cheese

Chilli cheese pull-apart rolls
2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 tsp of active dry yeast
2 1/2 tbsp of water (lukewarm)
1tbsp of milk + extra for brushing
1 tsp of sugar
1 tbsp of flax seeds, ground into a paste with 2tbsp of water
1 tbsp of olive oil + extra for greasing
Salt to taste

For the stuffing
Mix together:
2 cheese cubes, grated
2 green chillies, minced
1 tbsp of onion, finely chopped
1 tsp of coriander leaves, chopped
Salt to taste

Dissolve the water and sugar along with the yeast and stir well. Cover this and allow it to rest for about 10 minutes while the yeast proofs. The mixture should turn all bubbly, frothy and begin to rise at the end of this time period, if that doesn’t happen wait for another 10 minutes and if you don’t have any success at the end of this too then discard the yeast and start all over again. No one said bread-making was easy!

Put the flour and salt in a mixing bowl, create a well in the centre and slowly pour in the yeast mixture. Gradually add the milk, flax seeds and olive oil while slowly kneading the dough to bring it together. You may find that the dough is a little too dry, in that case use some water to bring it all together. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover it with a damp muslin cloth and leave it in a dark corner of the kitchen. The dough needs to rise to double the volume and this should take, roughly, about 2 hours. It took me 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Place the dough on a floured surface and punch it down. Knead for a minute or two. Now use a rolling pin and gently roll out the dough till it is about 1/2 inch thick. Use a pastry brush and apply some olive oil on the surface. Spread the prepared filling across the surface of the dough. Roll up the dough to form a log. Cut the log into even sized pieces and place them cut side up, less than an inch apart on a greased baking tray. Use a pastry brush and apply milk on the top of the rolls and then sprinkle some sesame seeds on this. Cover and let it rise again for about 30 minutes before proceeding.

The second rise

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 160 degrees for about 20-30 minutes until the bread has turned a warm golden brown and smells (that is the key!) done. Serve warm with some tea/coffee or even ketchup if you like.

Rolling over

*Add some herbs or spices to the dough to get a flavoured bread. It’s just delicious!
*If you have fresh herbs at hand, chop them up and add to the stuffing. You will have a delicious dish at hand no doubt, but your home will also be enveloped in the lovely aroma that’s going to get you hooked on to baking bread. That’s what did it for me!
*Make sure the rolls aren’t placed too far apart then it defeats the title of being a pull-apart roll. A good idea is to place them about 4-5cm apart in a baking tin where they are a little less than tightly packed.

This recipe is also off to Vardhini’s Bake Fest which is being hosted at The Mad Scientist’s Kitchen this month. And also to Yeastspotting, my first time there!

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