Well, this has been an unbelievable winter so far in Colorado as in many areas across the country.
I don’t recall seeing such drastic temperature shifts and heavy snow fall ever. Today we had a high of -2 degrees with a predicted 50 degrees next week.
Needless to say, for winter sports enthusiasts it has been a season of epic proportions. We took a quick trip up to Vail and, while it was cold, the sun was shining, the sky a brilliant blue with the most gorgeous views that seemed to go on forever.
Next week, a houseful of guests will arrive to play with us in the mountains over President’s weekend so I am beginning the process of baking and freezing some goodies.
I want to be out having fun with everybody, not spending too much time in the kitchen so if I make croissants, English muffins and cinnamon buns before hand, when everybody is here, all I have to do is pull an assortment of baked goods out of the freezer in the morning, warm them in the oven and everyone can help themselves to a tasty treat while sipping one of Ric’s killer lattes or hot chocolates.
For afternoon sandwiches I have made some Parmesan and herb Ciabatta rolls. Chewy and hearty, they are perfect to stuff with cheeses or sliced meats.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
Sponge (from above)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 – 1 cup water
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated fine, plus 1/2 cup for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon Herbs de Provence (or another kind of dried or fresh herb)
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
To make the sponge:
Mix all of the ingredients until well blended. Cover the bowl with plastic or foil, and let rest at room temperature for 12 to 20 hours, until the mixture is very bubbly.
For the dough:
Place the sponge in a mixing bowl along with the cheese, herbs and remaining dry ingredients, using an electric mixer set on slow speed with a dough hook, mix the dough and slowly add the water.
Increase the mixer speed to medium, and mix for about 4 minutes; the dough will be soft and slightly tacky. Add additional water or flour if necessary.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover and allow to rise for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until very puffy.
Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, and shape it into a 6 x 15 inch rectangle. Using a sharp knife or pizza wheel, cut the dough in half lengthwise and then across every 3 inches so you have 10 rolls.
Place the rolls onto a floured towel or parchment paper and cover lightly. Let the rolls rise for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until they have almost doubled in size.
Place a baking stone in the top third of your oven, and preheat the oven to 450°F.
Sprinkle the rolls with the remaining 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan and with some fresh ground cracked black pepper.
Place the rolls directly on the hot stone or baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until they are a light golden brown (they may take longer if you are using a baking sheet).
Remove the rolls from the oven and cool on a rack.