…but at my back I always hear, time’s winged chariot hurrying near…
Two days until Thanksgiving. Three days until David gets here. Twenty-four days until I’m home. And only a million obstacles in between. I think it’s the universal human condition that we never seem to have enough time. I feel like a hamster running on a wheel – in constant motion as time whirls around me, but not moving forward or getting enough things done. And it’s exhausting! So, here I am. Taking a nice break from the chaos that is juggling school and work. Anh is now stepping off the wheel, and going to rest in the corner. Unfortunately, the wheel continues to revolve and pick up momentum, despite me not being on it. Sigh.
It’s a paradox I can’t explain. Though there never seems to be enough time, the last few weeks before a school break have always felt soooo looooong. I am sure other students can back me up. Winter break couldn’t seem further away, and it is agonizing just counting down until we’re free at last. And yet, with each passing day, we complain about there not being enough time to finish an assignment or check things off our to-do lists. Students (humans) can be sooo capricious!
So rather than do something about it (and be productive), I’m just going to sit here and wait for my dough to rise. While everyone else frantically wraps up their semesters while cursing time’s winged chariot, I literally am going to sit here and watch my dough.
In the old days, I had a huge fear of yeast. Fickle packets of active dry or instant yeast that obdurately refused to proof, despite lots of TLC. I would pray to the kitchen gods to make my yeast foam and cooperative. I would coax the little yeasties with additional spoons of sugar and warm milk, but to no avail! Nothing would rise and I always ended up with flat, dry, not fluffy, inedible baked goods. Sigh. If you have a similar fear, this recipe will cure you of it. Promise. With this recipe, I have conquered the yeast, and they submit to my will and raise their white (tannish/brown actually) flags. Trust me, you too will overcome the yeasties. As for shaping the garlic knots, it took me a few tries, but this video is a good tutorial. Or if you are unfussy, you can shape these into long sticks, and voila – garlic breadsticks!
For the dough:
1 3/4 c warm water (@115°F)
1/4 c olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tbs sugar
1 packet active dry yeast
5 1/2 c all purpose flour [approx]
For garlic coating*:
1/8 c olive oil
2 tbs butter
5-7 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c Italian parsley, finely chopped [or scallions…]
2 tsp salt [or to taste]
*you may need to make more, depending on how generous you are with the coating
In a large bowl, combine water, all olive oil, salt, sugar, and active dry yeast. Gently mix to dissolve yeast. Set aside in a warm place for about 10 minutes, to proof the yeast, until it is foamy and there is this layer of brownish stuff floating at the surface. I usually place my bowl near (or on) my stove, and as I’m cooking other things, the heat helps the yeast move along.
After 10-15 minutes, slowly incorporate the flour into the yeast mixture. Using a fork, I gradually whisk in the first 4-5 cups until all the flour is moistened. I may stop prematurely if the dough seems too dry, but if this happens, just dribble in a few teaspoons of water. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead just a few times to form a nice round ball. The final product should be soft and only slightly tacky. Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set in a warm place (near the stove, above the fridge, etc). Allow the dough to raise 2-3x its original size. This may take anywhere from 1-3 hours, depending on environmental conditions.
After dough has risen, prepare work surface and rolling pin by sprinkling with flour. I find that it helps to oil the surface, the rolling pin, and my hands in addition to the flour. Have additional flour on hand, as you will need more to dust the surface and rolling pin. Also, have 2-3 foiled/parchment-papered baking sheets ready.
To make the dough more manageable, divide the dough in 2, leaving the other half in the plastic wrapped bowl. Take the first half, and gently press down on it, flipping it over and doing the same, to release gasses and flatten the dough. Roll out the dough until about 1/2″ thick, and roughly a 5″ x 15″ rectangle. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, slice the rectangle into 5″ long and 1/2″ wide strips.
Taking the strips one at a time, gently roll it back and forth to create an even rope. Using your index and middle fingers as guides, loop the rope twice around your fingers, then bring the ends through the loop to make a knot. Again, watch this video for additional explanation. Repeat with all dough. Place completed knots about 1″ apart on baking sheet. Cover the baking sheets with a dry kitchen towel or plastic wrap, and place in a warm place (like on top of a preheating oven) and allow the knots to double in size.
Preheat oven to 400°F.
While knots are rising and oven is preheating, go ahead and melt the butter, olive oil, and salt in a saucepan on medium-low heat.
Once the knots are done rising and oven is ready, generously brush the knots with the butter/oil mixture. Let bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. While baking, add garlic and parsley (I used scallions this time) to the warm oil/butter mixture. Once the knots are done baking, brush additional butter/oil/garlic/parsley over the top. Best served fresh out of the oven.
I made these garlic knots for dinner, and my mom and sister looved it. They kept dipping the knots in thick bowls of potato leek soup, and were too busy nomnomnoming to provide any constructive feedback. I’ll take that as a compliment i guess. Just this week, I made another batch, and they make the perfect bite size snack after class. I also think these would make great appetizers for a big family dinner… like maybe… Thanksgiving, which if you didn’t know (as if you didn’t), is only 2 days away.
So, instead of doing real work, I am now sitting here enjoying these delicious garlic knots. Why bother with the mountain of homework and essays and studying and reading and spreadsheets and data sets, when you can simply drown yourself in deliciously tender, moist, and buttery garlic knots, and just forget the world.
Do not disturb until break. Too busy pre-relaxing,