I’ve been doing a lot of bread baking this holiday season. My mother was missing a good dense white bread her grocery had stopped carrying, so for my visit, I packed a recipe for refrigerator dough and made a nice braided bread and some English muffins with it while I was there. Back home for the new year, I whipped up another batch of the dough new year’s eve. I plan to make another braided bread, but my ulterior motive was to bake cinnamon rolls for new year’s day brunch.
Most winters I make up a batch of either this dough or brioche dough and split it between plain rolls and cinnamon rolls. I do everything to shape the rolls, then freeze them on a cookie sheet, bag them up, and take them out to rise whenever I feel like some good fresh bread.
The refrigerator dough recipe is very like brioche except it calls for water rather than milk. I use half unbleached white flour and half whole wheat pastry flour. I also think two packets of yeast is a bit excessive. I buy yeast in jars, so I use three teaspoons in this recipe. One yeast packet is about 2 and 1/4 teaspoons, so I’m cutting out 1 and 1/2. In a regular recipe that rises in warmth, you could probably cut it further. This recipe does not call for any kneading. Once it’s cold and risen a bit, it’s quite easy to work with and shape.
Because it comes from the refrigerator, it takes a little longer to rise, but it does that without you hanging around to supervise. And that’s a point I’d like to make. So often people say they don’t have time to cook or to make things like fresh bread. A recipe like this makes it a lot easier because some of the work is done ahead of time. For instance, if I decide cinnamon rolls would be nice in the morning, I take them from the freezer and set them out in a baking pan, covered, before I go to bed. In the morning, they’re ready to throw in the oven. I’ve done the same in the morning for rolls when I wanted to have them for dinner. To quote Elizabeth David again, “bread takes time, but it doesn’t take your time.”
The other nice thing about freezing batches is that you can make the right amount. Frankly, cinnamon rolls aren’t good the second day. Some things are best eaten fresh, English muffins included, for which this recipe also works. I know because I made some at my mother’s and froze a batch for her. You can also avoid having too much around the house that you feel obligated to eat or want to avoid eating. So you can be moderate, save time, and have fresh bread. Almost like having your cake and eating it too!