16 February 2014

Kuvertbröd - Swedish Dinner Rolls

My grandmother, who passed away about a year ago, was a great cook and baker. I will always cherish the memories of having lunch at my grandparents' house because I knew I would get either meatballs or pancakes, which, to a Swedish kid, are about the best things you can eat in the whole world. One thing I had forgotten she baked (until my mother reminded me last Christmas) are these kuvertbröd - literally "envelope bread." At least that's what I thought all my life, until writing this blog post made me think, "That's a weird name for a piece of bread that looks nothing like an envelope." That's when it hit me: A kuvert in Swedish can mean both an envelope and a place setting (i.e., the plate and all the things that go with it - cutlery, napkin, glass, and whatever else). Using my Swedish brain even more (it's been a while since I spoke Swedish with any regularity), I recalled that you would use the word when talking about how many people would be coming to a dinner party.

With all this knowledge flooding back, I realized why these awesome little dinner roll-like pieces of bread are called what they are: They're individual servings that go perfectly with your dinner without having to share or slice bread. A cursory Google search proved me right: The name stems from the fact that they are for the individual and not for sharing with others around the dinner table. Bork, bork, bork!

Recently, I've found myself using these rolls for breakfast. I know that may sound weird to anyone in the U.S. reading this, but in Sweden, having a sandwich (we call it a macka) for breakfast is perfectly normal. We generally top ours with butter, Swedish cheese (which I currently purchase at IKEA), and maybe a slice of cucumber or tomato. A future blog post will feature the macka - I promise - and it's as Swedish as Absolut Vodka and ABBA. Read the Dragon Tattoo books and you'll find that they're having coffee and mackor (plural of macka) on every other page!

Anyway! This recipe is easy but made way easier with a stand mixer. It makes 24 rolls, and they freeze really well.

Kuvertbröd - Swedish Dinner Rolls

5 cups AP flour
50 g (about 3.5 tbsp) unsalted butter
2 tbsp active dry yeast
2 cups + 1 tbsp whole milk
1 tbsp white sugar
2 tsp salt
1 egg

1. Melt the butter in a small pot over low heat.

2. While the butter is melting, mix the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.

3. When the butter has melted, add the milk and heat to 118 degrees F (48 degrees C).

4. Add the milk/butter mixture to the dry ingredients and knead with the dough hook for 5 minutes. If not using a stand mixer, mix with a wooden spoon until everything comes together, then knead with your hands for 5 minutes.

5. Place the dough in a lightly floured bowl - it's likely pretty sticky at this point. Let rest under a kitchen towel for 30 minutes.

6. Turn your oven to 480 degrees F (250 degrees C).

7. Punch the dough down and divide into 24 equal parts - I use a kitchen scale for this. If you don't have a kitchen scale (digital), go get one. So useful.

8. Roll each piece of dough into a ball between the palms of your hands and place on a baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches of space between each piece.

9. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and let rest another 30 minutes.

10. Crack the egg into a bowl and lightly whip with a fork.

11. Lightly brush each roll with the egg and sprinkle a little bit of sea salt on top. Alternatively, you can sprinkle with sesame seeds or black poppy seeds. Or just omit the sprinkling of anything at all.

12. Bake in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

13. Let rest on a cooling rack until cool enough to touch before cutting in half, slathering with butter, and trying not to eat too many in one sitting.

Once completely cooled, you can freeze the rolls in a Ziploc back for up to six months. While they can be toasted, I prefer mine not to be. Instead, I microwave a roll for 30 seconds on low power, then cut in half and microwave again on medium power for about 10 seconds. Your results may vary depending on your microwave, and you need to experiment with the timing if you're defrosting more than one roll at a time.

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