Monday, December 05, 2011

Norm's Onion Rolls

My friend and (sometime) fellow blogger, Chris from Rhode Island, recently asked me if I knew about The Fresh Loaf.
Well, in fact, I do know about it, but Chris's note reminded me that I hadn't visited the site for many months. So visit it I did, and came away with this recipe for Norm's Onion Rolls.

People on The Fresh Loaf raved about Norm's Onion Rolls. And I'm going to rave about them too, but I will say that Norm could write clearer recipes. And if I were a good and responsible blogger, I would make these several more times, and I would edit the recipe until it was understandable. But I'm not good and responsible, so I will link to the recipe as is, and if you make them, you'll probably have the same questions I did, but since mine came out just fine, I'll bet yours will too.

This makes a very thick dough. In fact, my trusty KitchenAid stopped dead in its tracks. I quickly turned it off, hoping that it would recover. I haven't re-tested it yet.

Oh, this is bad. After I wrote that sentence, I decided I couldn't keep myself in the dark about whether I had a working stand mixer. So I went to my kitchen to try it out. It's not working well. Now I've put Jim in charge of seeing if he can use his duct tape method of repair to fix it right up. Otherwise I might have to tell him that he'll be getting a new Kitchenaid for Christmas. (I already have my presents picked out, so I'm afraid it will have to go on his list. That's what happens when you're slow to make your list).

But before you get to the dough-rising stage, you have made the onion mixture. Oddly, you don't want to use real onions. Instead, you buy a jar of dehydrated onions, which you would probably normally not consider using in real food. At least this is what Norm recommends, and so it's what I did. You soak the dried onions for a while, then drain them, reserving the onion-soaking water for the bread dough.

Then you divide the dough into 3-oz. or 4-oz. balls, depending on how big you want your rolls. Mine were in the neighborhood of 4 ounces, and I got 13 rolls. At this point, the recipe got a little unclear. You make mini boules, and, at some point, you let the dough rest again. I couldn't tell whether Norm wanted me to let the dough rest before shaping it into boules, or after, or at what point he thought I should cover the dough with the onion-poppy seed mixture. I shaped them first and let them rest for 20 minutes or so.

Also, the recipe says to use your thumb to make a dimple on top of the rolls. I thought that meant I should put the filling inside the dimple. But I think I was supposed to flatten the dough while pressing the roll into the onion mixture and then make the dimple. I now believe that the dimple actually has no utilitarian value (such as serving as a nest for the onions)--it's just the way it is. But I could be wrong. Perhaps if someone who is familiar with these New York-style rolls reads this, they can give me some advice, preferably not beginning with, "Breadbasketcase, don't you know how to read?"

This is what they looked like going into the oven:

And this is what they looked like coming out:

These are not ladylike rolls. Even if you made them smaller, there's something very hefty and satisfying about them. If I had flattened them more, and pressed the onion mixture into the top of them, they would have been perfect for sandwiches. But as long as I didn't wonder how they compared to Norm's rolls, which have reached a nearly mythic stature among readers of The Fresh Loaf, I liked them exactly as they were--round, savory, and toothsome.


evil cake lady said...

Okay, I am a little worried about your KitchenAid! Was Jim able to fix it?

I wonder if you could use real chopped onions, salt them to drain off the juice, and then rinse them really well to remove the salt? Or does that sound more like a pain than soaking dehydrated onions? I can't tell.

I'm still worried about your KitchenAid.

breadbasketcase said...

Sad news about the KA. Norm's Onion Rolls will forever be known to me as The Bread That Broke the Mixer. I don't think I have time to get it repaired, so I may just have to bite the bullet. Although I got along without a stand mixer for many years, that piece of machinery has made itself indispensible to me.
About the onions--I think that real onions would work, but apparently they wouldn't taste like the authentic New York Onion Roll, which wouldn't bother me, but would make an authentic New Yorker roll his/her eyes.

Melinda said...

Oh no...your precious! Bad Norm Rolls, bad!
I had a similar experience with my second making of Peter Reinhart's bagels, way back when. Luckily, Kitchen Aid repaired it under warranty, even though it was 2 days out of warranty. Perhaps, they may take pity on you also? You deserve a brand spanking new KA post cake book bake through. Finger's crossed for you!
Norm's rolls look good despite the bad karma! Merry Christmas to you by the way! x

breadbasketcase said...

Apparently the shelf life of a heavily used stand mixer is not that long. When I started the cake project, Rose did some calculating and figured that my mixer would last through the two-year project. And I'm way over warranty.
Jim is refusing to accept the new one as a Christmas present, which is just as well because I need it soon.
In the spirit of the season, I forgive Norm.
And Merry Christmas to you too!

Vicki said...

May we have a moment of silence for your KitchenAid? If it's an older one, I highly recommend getting it repaired. They are sturdier than the new ones. I can almost smell these rolls! Jenn wrapped up the HCB. Thanks again Marie, for hosting and carrying us along for the glorious sugar/flour/butter/chocolate ride.
My dried fruits are soaking in rum, laying in wait for Rose's fruitcake. The family has made it an annual request.

evil cake lady said...

You are kinder than me, to forgive Norm's Onion Rolls for breaking your KA! Isn't that the one Rose bought you when you busted your original one during the bread bake-through?

Now I am nervously eyeing my mixer; I've had it for about a decade.

Happy Holidays!

chris in RI said...

See, now I feel really guilty! I have become The One Who Suggested The Bread That Broke the Mixer! And I was rightfully called out as a "(sometime) fellow blogger".

I can't fix the mixer but I can try to do better than a sometime blogger.

I haven't tried Norm's Onion Rolls yet, but you are right about their mythic status. I even have some dehydrated onion in my pantry right now (don't ask). I'll have to try them when the holiday baking is done. I'll remember to mix and knead by hand. Glad you enjoyed the rolls, and thanks for the blog mention (and nudge), but awfully sorry about the mixer. RIP faithful KA.
chris in RI (TOWSTBTBTM)

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