When I leaf through cookbooks, I mark recipes that look interesting with little post-it flags. I frequently go back through those marked pages when I am looking for ideas, and it is always interesting when I return to books to see what caught my attention at any particular moment. Recently, I was flipping through some old community cookbooks to pass the time and I came across a marker on a recipe for cottage cheese rolls. I can’t imagine what made me mark it, as I am neither a baker of rolls or a particular fan of cottage cheese. But as it happened, I had a container of cottage cheese in the fridge I had mistakenly bought instead of ricotta, so I decided this would be a good way to use it. And it was. These rolls are simple enough for a yeast-fearing girl like myself, but the cottage cheese makes these rolls light and delightfully tangy. The dough is wet so the finished rolls are moist and fluffy.
Cottage Cheese Dinner Rolls
2 packets active dry yeast
½ cup lukewarm water
16 ounces cottage cheese
¼ cup sugar
2 Teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs, at room temperature
4 ½ – 5 cups all-purpose flour
Rinse the bowl of a stand mixer with warm water so the bowl is not cold. Pour the ½ cup lukewarm water over in the bowl and sprinkle the yeast over. Sprinkle in a little of the sugar and stir. Leave for about 5 minutes to proof.
Heat the cottage cheese in a small pan over medium-low heat just until it is lukewarm. Do not let it scorch or bubble. Add the cottage cheese to the yeast in the bowl, then add the rest of the sugar, the salt, baking soda and the eggs and 1 cup of flour and beat with the paddle attachment until combined. Add about 3 – 3 ½ cups of flour, a little at a time, just until you have a shaggy, wet dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Scrape the dough into a well – greased bowl, turn it over so the top is greased as well then cover and leave to rise in a warm place until it has doubled in volume.*
Remove the risen dough to a surface dusted with about ½ cup of flour. Knead the dough a few times in the flour to remove some of the stickiness. Divide the dough into 24 equal pieces with a floured knife or bench scraper. Lightly flour you hands and roll each portion into a ball. Place the balls close together in two greased 9-inch round pans. Cover the pans loosely with a towel and leave to rise for 30 – 40 minutes until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Bake the rolls for 20 minutes until firm and golden on the top. Remove from the oven and cover loosely with a tea towel until ready to serve. I like to serve these warm from the oven with butter to spread inside, but you can brush the tops of the cooled rolls with melted butter, loosely cover with foil and reheat in a low oven for a few minutes, just to warm through.
Makes 24 rolls
*Here’s a tip I learned from a friend. The microwave is a warm, draft free place great for rising dough. Just leave a post-it not so no one turns it on. Even better, create a moist, warm dough habitat by putting a measuring cup with ½ cup of water in the microwave before the bowl of dough and zap for 2 minutes, until the inside is nice and steamy. Quickly stick the dough bowl in and shut the door.