I could have sworn I wrote about this at some point in time. Maybe it was one of the posts that I deleted when the CIA gestapo made me remove some posts wherein I called a spade a spade (or a douchebag a douchebag, as it were). The bottom line is that I Googled myself in the cleanest sense of the word and found no such post. So it is with great fanfare and cheer that I present you with…
Cottage Cheese Dill Rolls
If you’re like me, you will either take exception to the idea of dill or cottage cheese or both. You’ll think to yourself, “what fresh hell is this?” But hold your roll, playa, because they’re really friggin’ good.
Then again, if you’re like many people, you’ll see nothing wrong with either ingredient and be excited to try them. In which case I will remind you, they’re really friggin’ good.
I learned how to make them from an old French pastry chef who taught our class. The guy was a character, sporting a thick accent and a deft hand. He routinely told us, in complete seriousness, things like “they’re letting women work in the hot kitchen now” or “you must remain trim.” He was AWESOME, and the butt of many jokes, but in a really fond, loving way. Elderly men often crack me up with the things that come out of their mouths (not drool).
He really was a fantastic pastry teacher, though, and I can honestly say that the recipe for cottage cheese dill rolls has remained my all-time favorite school recipe. It even slightly edges out the pork rillette, which baffles me with its deliciousness every time I make it. That’s the wonderment of the cottage cheese dill roll.
It’s basically a soft, tender dinner roll that is studded with minced onion and dill, and topped with melted butter and salt when it comes hot from the oven. The water in the roll is almost completely replaced with whole milk cottage cheese, and there’s butter and egg in the dough as well, lending it a richness that is more subtle than brioche, but more decadent than any dinner roll you’ve ever had– of this I can assure you.
Here’s a basic recipe. I can’t find the school recipe booklet right now, so it may be off in a couple places, but it’s the recipe I used yesterday and it worked out just as well as the original:
Makes 24 rolls, or a combination of loaves and rolls
2 C whole milk cottage cheese, slightly warm (I love the silkiness of Organic Valley)
.5 C warm water (110 F)
1.5 T active dry yeast
2 T sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 T butter, softened
5 C AP flour
1.5 t salt
1/2 t baking powder
2 T minced onion
1/4 C chopped dill, loosely packed (or 1 T dry if it’s all you’ve got)
And some melted butter and sea salt for finishing
I could give you all the directions, step by step, to do this by simple machine. Or you could use your breadmaker to make the dough. Which would you prefer? Both?
Layer ingredients, in order, into the breadmaker. Allow to run its regular dough course.
Layer ingredients in the bowl of a large stand mixer and knead for 10 minutes
In either one, you’ll have to add flour as necessary if the dough feels too sticky. You want a soft but unsticky dough. Place it in a greased bowl, cover it, and allow it to rise in a warmish, humid place. Not hot–just warm. Wait until it’s doubled in size, then punch it down and wait for it to double again.
Using a bench cutter or a knife, cut it into portions that are about two and a half inches in diameter. Like halfway between a golf ball and a tennis ball, maybe. Roll them on the counter until they’re completely smooth, and put them on a piece of parchment paper, at least two inches apart from one another:
Dust the tops with a tiny bit of flour, cover again, and allow to rise while the oven preheats.
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
When the oven is hot, and the rolls have risen a bit, stick them in and close the oven door. Rotate them after about 10 minutes. When they’re a rich golden color on top, pull them out and brush them with melted butter. Sprinkle with a little coarse salt (fleur de sel is great), and let them cool.
Eat at least four of them while they’re still warm. Don’t even worry about being a glutton, because that’s what these are MADE for. Those first few should be so hot that they almost burn your mouth, but you can’t stop eating them. Think fat kid in a candy store. Or fat kid in a dill dough factory, I guess.
When we made them in school, we’d stand around the deck oven drooling like Pavlovian dogs until they came out, then gobble most of them before they made it to the cooling rack. They’re just insane when they’re fresh out of the oven. INSANE. The onion kind of melts away, and the dill isn’t pickle-y, but just kind of herbacious and bootylicious. And the butter and the slight crunch of the salt on top? If you ever got to second base with an angel, these are what you’d find.
Honestly, every time I’ve made these I’ve eaten so many straight out of the oven that I’ve been unable to eat them with any meal. I don’t think that’s abnormal. They’d outclass anything else on the table, so why bother, right?
The trick with these rolls, though, is that they aren’t as good once they cool off. They’re still delicious, but not quite so slap-yo-momma, in-yo-face, I’m-a-magical-yeast-unicorn as they are in those first 15 minutes. The salt can tend to melt into the butter and leave little white splotches on the top, if you’re in a humid environment (61 more days). So if you’re going to make them and take pictures of them, then be sure to do it right away.
Unlike me. I was so besotted with my hot buns that I was unable to do anything but chow myself into a coma. So when I woke up this morning and realized I had forgotten to take a picture of the final product…I was furious with myself.
We had an old school revival with the leftover rolls, too. Smoked turkey, Wildflower cheddar, spicy horseradish dijon mustard, and dill rolls on the panini press. The outside crusted up, the insides melded together, and the flavors complimented one another so fervently and so frequently that I worried they were going to start making out with one another.
Shake it, baby. And keep trim.