This is on of the goodies we’re going to pack into our Mishlochei Manot (Purim packages). I recycle the junky snacks we receive into other packages, feeling a bit guilty. Not guilty because we’re not going to eat what our friends and neighbor planned, and spent money on, and took the trouble to deliver. No, guilty because all those little candies and snacks are going to contribute to Israel’s massive post-Purim sucrose hangover. I should just throw it all out. But I rationalize that someone should enjoy the junk…because in the end, our friends and neighbors did go to the trouble.
I love best the Mishlochei Manot that feature a few home-cooked things. Foods that were made by hand – cakes and cookies and specialties of the donors – I keep. Some go into the freezer right away to stay fresh for next Shabbat. Some we serve at our Purim feast. For our own Mishloche Manot, we’re thinking – and by we, I mean my son Eliezer, the Little One and I – of Hamentaschen, filled with cherry jam. And small potato kugels. Probably the chocolate fruit/nut clusters, because they’re excellent, and easy to make. And instead of the usual small challah, which looks good in the package but which I suspect never gets eaten, onion rolls.
I baked an experimental batch of these rolls and watched Husband and the kids drifting around the kitchen, sniffing the smells of fresh bread baking and onion, and asking when the rolls would be ready. They disappeared almost as soon as I took them out of the oven. The rolls, that is.
Warm and tender, like mother love. Only mother love, I hope, doesn’t always taste like onions, as these rolls do. So delicious, eaten with a little butter. Alternately, they’d be incredibly good dipped into gravy from stewed chicken or boeuf bourguignon. Um. I’m supposed to be baking more this evening, to freeze ahead…but I think I’d better bake a double batch, because there won’t be any left for freezing, if I know the gang.
About 15 rolls
40 grams – about 1/2 cup – packaged dried onions
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/2-oz. fresh yeast, or 1-1/2 teaspoon dry. Israelis: I used 1/2 cube fresh yeast.
1 cup water
1 – 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 – 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used olive)
1 egg, beaten
4 cups all-purpose flour
Sea salt for sprinkling
Empty the dried onion package into a small bowl and just barely cover the onions with hot water. Add the poppy seeds. Leave them there for 10 minutes, stirring a couple of times in between.
Put the yeast into a large bowl. Drain the water from the onions into a 1-cup measure. Add water to make 1 cup liquid. Add to yeast and wait 5 minutes.
Stir the yeasty water up. Add salt, sugar, oil, and egg. Mix well.
Add the flour, one cup at a time. After the second cup, add the moist onions. Add the final cup little by little, just enough to make a smooth, non-tacky dough. It will be stiff at first, but will loosen up when you add the onions.
Knead until the dough is resilient; about 10 minutes. Or knead a few minutes to distribute the onions, then stretch and fold about 5 times, which is what I do.
Dribble a little more oil over the dough and turn it over so that all its surface has a film of oil. Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise 1 hour or until doubled.
Tear off pieces of dough of a size to fit in the palm of your hand. Stretch each one out and tuck the ends under. Do that twice more. Lightly roll the dough between your palms to shape a plump roll. Place the rolls on a lined baking sheet, 1″ apart. Alternately, place them together so you can pull the baked rolls apart, as shown below.
Sprinkle rolls with flaky sea salt, if available – if not, any salt.
Allow to rise once more until doubled.
Preheat oven to 350°F – 175° C.
Bake for 20 minutes. Wait 20 minutes to pull apart and eat. If you can wait.