These buns are a perfect companion for soup or hearty pasta dishes. The recipe is originally from Jennie Shapters breadmachine book, I usually add more ricotta and fiddle with the volume of water to get the right feel of the dough. This is the original recipe:
1 ts yeast
450 gr bread flour
4 tbs ricotta
3 tbs non fat dry milk
2 ts oregano
1 ts salt
2 ts powdered sugar (optional)
25 gr butter
225 gr water
My breadmachine (Panasonic) is working for me and makes the dough. I feed the machine in the above mentioned order. However if you prefer to use your hands or stand mixer please follow the directions as you would make any other dough, the result should be a supple elastic dough. Let it rise, either in your breadmachine or in an oiled bowl, covered. 30-40 minutes.
Turn your dough out on a lightly floured (I prefer a slightly oiled) surface, carefully flatten it with both hands, fold the sides towards the center, flatten and make a tight log, starting at the top and rolling towards you. Cover with a cloth and let it rest for 20 minutes.
Now divide your long roll into equal portions about 60 grams each. Form a long rope from each piece of dough. If the dough still fights you, proceed with the next and work your way through all the pieces of dough and start again with the first one to make the ropes longer, after a little rest the dough will be more "obedient" to form nice long ropes. Now you can make any shape you like, in the picture you see knots and twists.
Two ways to let your shaped knots rise, covered with plastic wrap in a warm spot for about an hour or until doubled in size. Or, you could heat up your oven for 5 minutes on 50C, don't forget to switch it off !, put a (old) pan with boiling water on the bottom of your oven and let your rolls rise in the oven, uncovered, untill doubled in size. After this final rise, add a glaze of beaten egg and a sprinkling of freshly ground pepper.
Preheat your oven to 425F or 220C and bake for approx. 15-20 minutes. Please check your bread every now and then cause ovens do vary.
These buns have a soft white crumb due to the milk and ricotta but at the same time have enough bite to hold up against a hearty soup or pasta. They do great with a picknick and the basic recipe is easily adjusted by substituting the oregano for any other herbs or anise, fennel, or cumin.
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