You’ve heard this from me before (and from other bloggers, I’m sure): one of the best parts of blogging is the friendships made with other food-minded people. After four years of blogging, I now count as friends several lovely people I would never have met apart from starting L&A. I’ve been a part of a few food blogging communities and recently joined one more. I look forward to connecting with old friends through this new group and to making new ones.
The Blogger C.L.U.E. Society (Cook. Learn. Undertake. Eat) is a recipe/cooking group. Each month, members select a recipe to cook or bake from their assigned blog based on that month’s theme. The blogger pairings and recipes remain secret until reveal day when we share our post of the recipe we selected. I love the concept, not only for the chance to meet more people in the blogging community but I see it also as a way to challenge myself to learn new recipes and to keep my content fresh and new.
The December theme was to find “something your grandmother would have cooked”. I was assigned to Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm. She and her husband are retired police officers who are now living the farm life I have often fantasized about. They have chickens, turkeys and pigs and belong to a community that fosters a sustainable lifestyle. I imagined all the heavenly tastes that must come out of Wendy’s kitchen and looked forward to selecting a recipe for this month’s theme.
But here’s the thing. My grandmother didn’t cook. May, my paternal grandmother, that is. I was blessed with only a few years with my maternal grandmother who passed away when I was five so May (who passed away nine years ago) was the grandmother who came to mind for this month’s theme.
I’ve dedicated a post to May here. She was a tiny woman with a big appetite. A hearty eater, May enjoyed her time at the table with her family and always centered family gatherings around good food…that she didn’t cook. She came from a time and culture when it was more common to have a cook in her kitchen. As a child, I remember May sitting down at her desk to plan her weekly menus. She always considered the family’s favorite dishes and worked them into one meal or another. Sunday lunches were the best because it was always a big affair. We all attended church service together as a family, followed by lunch at May and Day’s house (the family’s nicknames for grandma and grandpa). And though they’re both gone now, the tradition has been kept up by my aunts and uncle in their home in the Philippines.
Since my grandmother didn’t cook, I thought it would be appropriate to highlight a recipe she would have loved. May enjoyed a great variety of food but when I think of her the classic pairing of soup and bread comes to mind. She loved the two just as much as I do. Since I’d already featured this Roasted Butternut Squash Soup around my post for May, I decided to pair it with a bread recipe from Wendy’s blog. She offered so many tempting options that it took me days to make a decision. Ultimately, her Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls won; they had May written all over them.
Though I’m an experienced bread baker, I will admit to some anxiety since I’d never attempted dinner rolls before. Would Wendy approve of my version, I wondered. And just as important, would May enjoy these rolls?
It turns out I had nothing to fear at all. These rolls turned out beautifully. My husband and I have been enjoying this batch for the past few days. I’d been meaning to return to baking yeast breads again and this recipe worked out perfectly in so many ways.
The only change I made to the original recipe was to substitute whole spelt flour for the whole wheat and bread flours Wendy used. Spelt, another whole grain, is a distant cousin of wheat with a mildly nutty/sweet flavor. It’s become my flour of choice for baking whenever the substitution is possible and it was perfect here. I also scaled down the recipe slightly since only two people would be eating the rolls but the rest of the ingredients and technique stayed the same.
These spelt dinner rolls have a light texture but are rich in substance thanks to the nutrient-rich whole grain flour. They were wonderful right out of the oven and were just as good toasted and slathered with butter and jam the following morning. Baking the rolls in a skillet was good not only for rustic appeal but mainly to help along spelt flour’s fragile gluten structure.
I’m happy to add these rolls to my bread repertoire and, since I loved them, I have no doubt that May would have loved them, too…with a big bowl of soup, of course. Thanks, Wendy!
Scroll down below to see the rest of this month’s C.L.U.E. recipes.
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons warm water (about 110 - 115℉)
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅓ cup butter (76 grams), melted
- 1 egg, beaten
- 3½ - 4 cups whole spelt flour
- Olive oil (for brushing the top of the dough; optional)
- Dissolve the yeast in water in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with dough hook. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Add the sugar, salt, butter and beaten egg to the yeast mixture, stirring until combined. Add the flour in ½-cup increments with the mixer turned on to Speed 2. After you've added 3½ cups of the flour, check the consistency of the dough. The dough should be turning into a ball and coming off the the sides of the bowl. Sprinkle a bit more of the remaining ½ cup flour until your dough comes together. Note: spelt flour works a bit differently than other flours. I added all but 1 tablespoon of the remaining ½ cup of flour and while the dough came off the sides of the bowl and formed a ball around the dough hook, it wasn't sturdy as a ball on its own. This is fine. The total kneading time from turning the mixer on to Speed 2 until the dough comes off the sides of the bowl was about six minutes.
- Place the dough ball into a bowl sprayed with olive oil, roll the ball of dough around so that it is covered with oil. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and place in a warm area to rise until doubled, about one hour (don't worry if it takes a bit longer). Punch the dough down and leave it to rise again for another 30 minutes. After the second rise, turn the dough out on a lightly floured counter, punch it down and lightly knead it into a round.
- Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and roll each one into a small ball. Arrange the balls in a 10-inch cast iron skillet (or a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper).
- Preheat your oven to 400*. Cover the small balls with a damp towel and let them rest for the third time in a warm area until the oven has preheated, about 15 minutes. If you like, brush the tops of the dough balls with a little olive oil before baking. Bake the rolls for 15 minutes, give or take 3 minutes. (In my oven the rolls were done in 18 minutes). Prep time includes rise time.
Check out what the rest of the ladies cooked up for C.L.U.E.
- Lemon Mascarpone Layer Cake from Liz at That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Beef Barley Soup from Kate at Kate’s Kitchen
- Scrambled Egg Sandwich from Christiane at Taking on Magazines
- Mexican Hot Chocolate Mix from Debra at Eliot’s Eats
- Ginger Snap Cookies from Lisa at Authentic Suburban Gourmet
- Scalloped Potato Cottage Pie from Ramona at Curry and Comfort
- Lemon Chicken Thighs from Janet at From Cupcakes to Caviar
- Cranberry Cream Cheese Dream Bars from Christy at Culinary Diva
- Persimmon Syrup and Persimmon Smash Cocktail from Alice at A Mama, Baby & Shar-pei in the Kitchen
- Smoky Potato Corn and Poblano Chowder from Azmina at Lawyer Loves Lunch
- Apple Butter and Body Lotion from Kelli at Kelli’s Kitchen
- Roasted Honey Rosemary Pecans from Kim at Liv Life
- Hershey’s Candy Cane Cookies from Susan at Create Amazing Meals
- Best Ever Ginger Snaps from Aly at Cooking in Stilettos
- Brats and Kraut from Lea Ann at Cooking on the Ranch
- Chocolate Pecan Fudge from Kathy at Bakeaway with Me
- Pumpkin Scones from Anna at Anna Dishes
- Roasted and Stuffed Eggplant from Stacy at Food Lust People Love
- Swedish Dark Rye Bread from Wendy at A Day in the Life On a Farm
- Spelt Dinner Rolls from Jean at Lemons and Anchovies
- Rum Spiked Chocolate Chip Cookies from Liz at That Skinny Chick Can Bake