Sourdough Spirals & A Snowstorm

Snow! Finally! A gorgeous blanket of fluffy, wet snow!

Of course, it’s a classic case of “Be careful what you wish for.” I came in after a day and a half of harvesting salad greens in the freezing cold to learn that the farmer’s market had been postponed due to an impending snow storm. Unfortunately, we had already clearcut the greenhouse, including more than five pounds of virgin lettuce that’s been inching along for the past three months. In these dark mid-winter days, they won’t be ready to harvest again for a few weeks. And so, just like that, the farm’s entire income for the month of January disappears. Moments like these are why sometimes, when people ask me if I’m planning to start my own farm, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

But, somehow, the magic of the first snow smoothes everything over and leaves it glistening and soft underfoot. It’s been almost two years since I’ve last stepped in snow. I cannot stay frustrated and discouraged for long before I am dashing about, exclaiming again and again at the beauty and glory of fresh snow.

And then my boss pulls these rolls out of the oven, and I can’t stop exclaiming over how incredibly amazing they are! And life is good.

Seriously, these have to be the best rolls I’ve ever eaten. Something about the combination of tangy sourdough and tender buttery richness makes me swoon. I can’t wait to make another batch soon. Thanks yet again to King Arthur Flour for the recipe (slightly adapted).

UPDATE (2/13/17): Made another batch, this time as cinnamon rolls, in celebration of a balmy and HUGELY successful February market. (Completely sold out of everything, including almost forty bunches of kale!) Also, carrying on tradition in honoring a Borner Farm friend’s birthday with a baked treat almost as good as she filled our kitchen with. Since I’m staying away from sugar these days, I only put butter and cinnamon inside, but did glaze half of them. Fantastic! Already searching for the next excuse to make these again.

Sourdough Spiral Rolls
Makes 12-16

1/2 cup sourdough starter
3 cups flour (she used half spelt, half all-purpose)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 large egg
4 tablespoons soft butter
2/3 cup warm water

4 tablespoons melted butter
Desired seasoning – paprika, garlic, herbs, etc, for savory buns; cinnamon, nuts, and/or sugar for a sweet treat

Combine together flour and salt, then cut in butter, beat in egg, and mix in starter and water to form a soft dough — and sticky, you may need a bench scraper to work it by hand. Or combine all the dough ingredients together in an electric mixer until soft and smooth. Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and allow to rise for several hours or overnight, until noticeably increased in bulk (it might not double.) Press the dough out on a large greased baking sheet to form a rectangle about 12×16″, then mix half the melted butter with desired seasonings and spread on top of the dough. Starting with a long side, roll into a log, then cut into slices approximately every inch, using a sharp knife or dental floss. Arrange on greased cake pans (or whatever baking pan or sheet you have available) and let rise, covered for a few more hours, until noticeably puffy or expanded. Brush tops with about half the remaining melted butter and bake at 350°F or 22-25 minutes, until lightly golden. Brush tops again with remaining melted butter and enjoy! They are much better warm, easily reheated in a toaster oven or back at 350°F oven for 5-10 minutes. Yum!

Note: The original recipe was designed for the use of commercial yeast as well as the sourdough. I wonder if an overnight sponge (maybe starter + 1-2 cups of the flour + water) would help further enhance or shorten the rise later on for this naturally leavened version. Then again, they sure turned out terrific following this process, so maybe it’s just as well not to try to fix what isn’t broken.

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