I think that few things in this world can bring the joy that food brings. I also think that one of the only things better than food itself is sharing food with others. And this week I worked with one of the most fondly shared foods for people all over the world: bread. Bread–specifically bread enjoyed among a group–has found its place on the table of holiday dinners, family nights out, religious services, and other communal gatherings for centuries. Its value to us has been preserved not only in our supermarkets, but verbally: in our expressions of financial gain (“she is the breadwinner of the house”), in our proverbial sayings (“know which side one’s bread is buttered on”), and in our colloquial lingo (“let’s get this bread”).
While my modest 9×9 inch pan of rolls may not hold the weight of a tray of bread for a wedding or Christmas loaves, perhaps, it certainly brought me that feel-good sensation that shared bread does. Sure, I was more than happy to break off one (okay maybe a lot more than one) roll for myself the first time I made these; but it was when my roommates came and excitedly tore off pieces of their own that I really felt the joy of this wonderful food. After coming home from long days of rehearsal, work, auditions, and various errands that generally leave us ready to retreat right in our own beds, often all it takes is a little pan of bread to keep us in the same room for a while. Some of our best conversations and laughs and story-telling have taken place late at night huddled around our cramped kitchen counter, over plates of bread. As cheesy as it sounds, it really is a powerful unifier.
Given my interests, you can correctly assume that I will be making PLENTY of bread in my near and distant future. But I’ve come to realize that beyond the motivation of fluffy, buttery, chewy pleasure, bread offers so much more. Maybe it’ll be what sparks a friendship with a new neighbor; maybe it will be the the thing that brings someone a fond memory of making bread with their father when they were young; or maybe it’ll even be the thing that brings my family around to the table again for a night when I have cranky teenagers of my own one day. I hope I’ll never underestimate its ability to bring people together, never miss an opportunity to literally “cast my bread upon the waters.”
You simply can’t help but get a little tingly inside when you tear off the first soft corner of freshly-baked bread, when you see the hot steam billow up as it escapes from its carb prison and brush your hands on it’s way out. These rolls give you exactly that, with even a bit more of that tingly feeling from the zip of lime. It’s got the sweetness of a Hawaiian roll with a unique citrusy kick and a just-browned bottom edge. They’re delicious enough to go solo, but they’re equally wonderful with a slab of butter melting on top (I say melting because I promise you won’t be able to wait for these to cool before you rip into them). Grab a few friends and make them yourself–or simply put a fresh tray out and wait for bread to work its magic.
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.
Sweet Lime Tear-and-Share Rolls (V)
- 3 TBSP vegan butter/margarine (earth balance is great), plus more for topping
- 3/4 cup almond milk
- 1 1/8 tsp active dry yeast (half a packet)
- 6 TBSP pureed mango (use food processor or Nutribullet)
- 6 TBSP sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 4-4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- zest and juice of two limes
- Combine almond milk and butter in microwave-safe bowl/measuring cup. Microwave in 20 second intervals until butter is mostly melted, stir to completely melt butter.
- Stir in sugar, and allow to cool until warm to the touch but not hot (around 100°F-110°F if you don’t feel comfortable feeling it on your own)
- Place mixture in the bowl of a stand mixer, and stir in yeast. Leave for about 15 minutes, or until yeast looks spongy on top.
- Mix in pureed mango, salt, and cornstarch with spoon or rubber spatula until evenly distributed. It’s okay if it’s not completely smooth.
- Begin adding flour a cup at a time. I mix the first two cups in by hand.
- Fit the bread hook attachment on your mixer, and continue adding flour, mixing on low speed and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Keep adding flour until dough mostly wraps around the bread hook, with some still sticking to the bottom.
- Increase mixing speed to medium, and continue mixing until dough is very smooth and elastic, around 4-6 minutes.
- Grease large bowl with oil; place dough in bowl, and cover with saran wrap.
- Allow to prove in a warm place until doubled in size (about 1 hour in my apartment), or prove it in the refrigerator overnight.
- Remove plastic wrap and punch dough down gently in bowl. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 9×9 inch baking pan.
- Turn out dough onto lightly floured counter. Using a knife or thin cutting board, cut the dough into 9 equal sections (it doesn’t have to be exact).
- Work a large pinch of lime zest (about 1/2 TBSP) into each ball of dough, pulling the sides of each ball down and outwards into the center. Avoid handling dough more than needed. Place each ball in the tray, cover with saran wrap, and place in warm place (I like to place it on top of the preheating oven).
- Allow tray to rest for about 20 minutes. Combine equal parts lime juice and melted butter, and brush the mixture on the tops of rolls.
- Bake in preheated oven for about 25 minutes, or until just barely browned on the tops and golden brown on the undersides.
- Tear, and share!