Welcome to my kitchen

A while ago, I realized I was serious enough about bread baking to stop diddling around with the 3-packs of yeast from the grocery store, or even the small jars for a small fortune. So I pulled up my big girl pants, and ordered "A Pound Of Yeast". It's in my freezer, and I use it regularly, and I guess that makes me "A Baker". Even though I always said "I can't bake". So, join me on my journey, and let's see what that pound of yeast makes, and where we go next....

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

To Garlic, Or "Knot" To Garlic....


When faced with that question….I’ll always choose “to garlic”.  That’s a no-brainer.  Garlic makes everything better.

Well, ok.  Maybe not *EVERYTHING*.  I’ve had garlic ice cream, and it was, well….garlic ice cream.  It’s not something I really want to taste again.

I’ve had garlic wine.  Annnnnd, it may be the only wine that I’ve had, nay, the only ALCOHOL I’ve ever had, ever, where I didn’t want a second glass.  Well, except maybe for the Rhineskeller Moselle I overindulged in when I was in college.  THAT I certainly never wanted ever again.  THAT I certainly never even wanted to smell, ever again.  Rhineskeller Moselle is a story for another day….But the garlic wine was a close second.

However, in most applications, garlic is most desirable thing.  Especially when paired with starch.  Garlic and pasta.  Good stuff.  Garlic and potatoes.  To die for.  Garlic and bread.  The best yet, especially when it’s a soft, yeasty, buttery roll, tied into a knot, then baked and glazed with more garlic butter and some savory little seedy things.  Oh yeah.  Now you’re talkin’ to me.

And that’s what we’re talkin’ about here.

Garlic knots.  A bit fussy (you do have to tie the dough in knots, after all), and it does take time (most of which is hands-off, dough resting time), but…oh, so good with a nice bowl of chili, or a stew, or roast chicken, or…just about anything.

Apparently, and I take this information on hear-say, *some* locales in the country offer garlic knots as a side for pizza, both in a delivery, take-out, or an “eat-in-the-pizza-joint” setting.

I’m not sure I know what to make of that.  But then, I’ve never understood the allure of breadsticks, or Crazy Sticks, or Crazeee Bread, or whatever, with my pizza.  Seems to me, the ‘za is a sufficient carb-bomb for one meal, so why would you want to fill up on a marginal bread product when you could be eating pizza?  Don’ get it….

But these garlic knots, they could sway my opinion.  They’re that good.

Here’s whatcha need (which we’ll eventually *knead*, oh I slay me….)


Sort of a scanty line-up, but bread’s not that complex, now is it?  Flour, yeast (there’s that pound again), salt, garlic (of course), butter and water.  This is so obvious that he skipped the class picture.

First up, you want to make some garlic butter.  You’ll need a boat load of it, because it flavors the butter, which flavors the dough and the glaze, and then the saut√©ed garlic gets mixed into the dough.  Hence the heavy-duty garlic flavor in the knots.  Mince it down good.  You could use a press, or grate it on a Microplane, but I like doing the duty with my big ol’ chef’s knife.


Plop that into a small non-stick skillet with some butter (ohhhhh, butter.  How I love you.  How you *don’t* love me, cholesterol much?).  All things in moderation as La Julia used to say.  Use the butter here, you won’t regret it.

You’ll also want a little sploosh (technical cooking term alert---sploosh) of water in the pan as well.  Cook this mix over low, low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring as often as you feel compelled to do so.  Recipe says “constantly”.  I say….whenever….frequently works for me.

When the garlic gets nice and “straw-colored” (recipe’s words, not mine….), add in more butter (so sorry, so sorry, so very sorry Dr. Clark.  I’ll be better next month, I promise).


Let that melt down, then strain the mix off so that the garlic solids are reserved in a small strainer, and the garlic flavored butter flows through.

Liquid gold down below, baby.  And good stuff in the strainer, too.


Whisk together some of the garlic butter, the garlic solids, some yeast and some water in a measuring cup and set aside.  Let the yeast dissolve and “proof” a bit.


Meanwhile, mix together some flour and salt in the bowl of your KA, and then add the water/yeast/garlic mixture in a steady stream.  Have the mixer, with the dough hook, on low speed until the dough comes together, and as always, don’t be afraid to adjust by small amounts of flour/water if the dough isn’t what you think it should be.

When the dough comes together, after about 1 minute, then ramp up the speed to medium, and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic and clears the sides of the bowl.  That should take about 6 to 10 minutes.  No pictures of this, we all know what it looks like by now.

Once the dough has been kneaded, dump it out on a lightly floured board, and form it into a cohesive ball.  Do the cup and tuck and roll motion we all love so much, and you’ll get this.


Plop that into a greased bowl or doubler, cover with some plastic wrap and let the yeastie bugs do their thing for about 40-50 minutes and double that dough.

Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with some parchment.  Extra points for skanky baking sheets, although this time out, I actually used on that was in pretty good shape.

Once the dough has doubled, punch it down on a floured board.  Roll, or shape by hand, the dough into a 12x6-inch rectangle.


HELLLLLLLOOOOOO Mr. Ruler !

And then cut the rectangle into 12, 6-inch strips.


I used my pizza wheel for this.  Yeah…..I should’ve had a ruler on both of the 12-inch sides.  My cuts got a bit, erm….wonky.  No worries, it all turned out OK.

Now, the recipe says to roll these strips into 12-inch long ropes.  In my kitchen, on this day, not gunna happen.  It was a fairly warm day, and the dough was really, really, soft.  I could’ve used the rest of the 5-pound canister of flour and not been able to “roll the dough into a rope”.  So I stretched and patted, and tried to round off the edges as best I could.

Again, no worries.  The knots looked OK, and tasted just fine.  Don’t sweat the small stuff.


Once you’ve got something vaguely resembling a 12-inch long “rope” of dough, it’s time to tie the knot (*sigh* somehow I didn’t think I’d only ever be tying the knot with bread dough, but I digress, sadly, again…..).

Not as complicated as it looks/sounds (and actually probably a whole lot LESS complicated that actually “tying the knot” if you get my drift)….

Make a loop out of the dough rope, and pass one end over the other, like you’re starting to tie a knot in a shoelace.


Then tuck the “bottom” end under the base of the loop.


Then, take the “top” end, loop it around under the knot, and bring it up through the center so the very tail pokes through.  Press that down into the base of the loop.


Lather, rinse, repeat for the rest of the “ropes”.  Depending upon how accurate you are with your cutting (why all y’all lookin’ at MOI????), you’ll get 12 or 13 strips of dough, hence 12 or 13 knots.


Cover those babies with some plastic wrap and let them double again for about 20 minutes to half-an-hour.

Oh yeah, babe.  Again, love, love, LOVE those yeastie bugs.


Nice and puffy and chewy and soft and yeasty.  Yum.  Coming soon, just yum.  Just wait, it gets so much better.

Once the knots are nice and doubled, put them into a screamin’ hot, 500° oven for 5 minutes so that the crust sets.  Pull them out, and baste then with some of the reserved garlic butter.  Rotate the pan, put ‘em back in the oven for another 5 or so minutes, or until they get nice and golden.  Keep a close eye on them.  When I made them last, they got a skosh overdone and too brown.  You want them golden….the venerated “GBandD” (Golden Brown and Delicious, so sayeth the sage that is Alton Brown).

When you pull them from the oven the last time, brush them over with the last of the garlic butter, and if you’re feelin’ sassy and dangerous, sprinkle them with some sesame or poppy seeds before the last of the garlic butter sets.


Let these babies cool a bit and then transfer to a wire rack, but serve warm.  Like most luscious things, best when warm.

But still perfectly fine sliced in half the next day for a sweet little cold cut and cheese sammich to toss into the kid’s lunch box (OK, that’s *if* your kid is a budding gourmand), or in YOUR lunch box, or nuked briefly the next morning and stuffed with eggs and bacon or sausage.  Oh, the garlicky possibilities are endless.

Here’s the actual recipe.

Garlic Knots
Adapted from “Cook’s Country” – December/January 2011
Makes 12 knots

10 garlic cloves, minced (you’ll need 2 tablespoons garlic, total)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided use
1 teaspoon PLUS 3/4 cup water, heated to 110°F
1&1/8 teaspoons rapid-arise or instant yeast
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

Cook garlic, 1 tablespoon butter and 1 teaspoon water in a small, non-stick skillet over low heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is “straw-colored”, about 8-10 minutes.  Add remaining butter, stirring until melted.  Let stand 10 minutes off heat.  Strain butter through small, fine-mesh strainer into a small bowl, and reserve garlic solids.

Whisk remaining 3/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon of the garlic butter, reserved garlic solids and yeast in cup until yeast dissolves.  Mix flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.  With mixer on low, stream in the water/yeast mixture and beat until dough comes together, about 1 minute.  Increase speed to medium and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, and clears the bowl, about 6 to 10 minutes.  Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand briefly to form a smooth, cohesive ball.  Transfer to greased bowl or doubler, cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise until doubled, approximately 40-50 minutes.

Preheat oven to 500°F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment.  Deflate dough onto a floured surface and roll or pat into a 12x6-inch rectangle.  Cut into 12, 6-inch long strips.  Roll or pat each strip into a “rope” 12 inches long.  Tie into a knot by first making a loop about 1&1/2-inches in diameter, and looping ends over each other.  Then take the “bottom” end, and tuck over the loop, down through the center.  Take the “top” end, and tuck under the loop, poking it up through the center and pressing down a bit to seal it.  Place the knot on the prepared baking sheet, and repeat for remaining dough.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let double again, for about 20 minutes.

Remove plastic, and place sheet of knots into the oven for 5 minutes.  Remove from oven and brush knots with 2 tablespoons of the remaining garlic butter.  Rotate the pan and return to the oven.  Bake until golden, about another 5 minutes.   Remove from oven, and brush with the last of the garlic butter, sprinkling with sesame or poppy seeds if desired (coarse salt would also rock, now wouldn’t it??).  Cool on the sheet for about 5 minutes, then transfer to rack to cool a bit more.  Serve warm.

**Knots can be made to the shaping step (before the second rise) and refrigerated, covered, for 24 hours.  Remove from fridge and let sit until dough doubles, then proceed with baking.


If it's bread (or made with yeast), the cool place to be is Yeastspotting !

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