Makes 12 large rolls or 18 smaller rolls
3 cups (16 ounces) pate fermentée (see recipe below)
2 ¼ cups (10 ounces) unbleached bread flour
2 ¼ cups (10 ounces) whole wheat flour
1 ½ tsp. salt
3 tsp. dry active yeast
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 TBSP honey
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ½ cup warm water
1 egg yolk, mixed with 1 TBSP of water
1. Take the paté fermentée out of the refrigerator 1 hour before making the dough. Cut it up into about 10 small pieces with a pastry scraper or serrated knife. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap and let sit for 1 hour to take off the chill.
2. Stir together the flour, salt, and yeast in a 4-quart bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer). Add the pate fermentée, eggs, honey, oil, and water. Stir (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) for 1 minute, or until the ingredients form a ball. If there is still some loose flour, add a little extra water.
3. Lightly dust the counter with flour, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mix on medium speed with the dough hook). Knead for about 10 minutes (6 minutes by machine), adding flour, if needed, to make a dough that is soft and supple, tacky but not sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
4. Ferment at room temperature for 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.
5. Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into 12 to 18 equal pieces (I divide mine into 3 ounce pieces for medium size rolls).
6. Prepare the individual rolls by knotting them. To knot them, roll out a round of dough into a 12-inch strand (shorter for smaller rolls). Tie a simple knot. Loop the two ends through the center of the knot a second time. Place the rolls, cut side down, on a parchment lined sheet pan lightly misted with spray oil. Mist lightly with spray oil, and loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap.
7. Proof the rolls for 45 minutes at room temperature, then flip them over so the cut or folded side is facing up. Mist again with spray oil, cover the pan, and continue proofing for another 30 to 45 minutes, or until the rolls are double their original size.
8. Preheat the oven to 425° F with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Uncover the rolls and prepare them for baking by brushing tops of rolls with an egg yolk and 1 TBSP of water.
9. Place the pan in the oven, spray the oven walls with water, and close the door. After 10 minutes, rotate the pan for even baking and lower the oven setting to 400° F. Continue baking until the rolls are a medium golden brown and register approximately 200° F in the center. This will take 15 to 20 minutes for large rolls, or less for smaller rolls.
10. Remove the rolls from the pan and transfer to a cooling rack. Wait at least 30 minutes before serving.
¾ tsp. dry active yeast
¾ cup (6 to 7 ounces) warm water
1 1/8 cups (5 ounces) unbleached bread flour
1 1/8 cups (5 ounces) whole wheat flour
¾ tsp. salt
1. Stir together yeast and water, then stir in the flours and salt in a 4-quart bowl (or in the bowl of a standing mixer) until everything comes together and makes a coarse ball (or mix on low speed for 1 minute with the paddle attachment). Adjust the flour or water, according to need, so that the dough is neither too sticky nor too stiff. (It is better to err on the sticky side, as you can adjust easier during kneading. It is harder to add water once the dough firms up.)
2. Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for 4 to 6 minutes (or mix on medium speed with the dough hook for 4 minutes), or until the dough is soft and pliable, tacky but not sticky.
3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and ferment at room temperature for 1 hour, or until it swells to about 1½ times its original size.
4. Remove the dough from the bowl, knead it slightly to degas, and return it to the bowl, covering the bowl with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in the refrigerator overnight. You can keep this in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze it in an airtight plastic bag for up to 3 months.
Recipe adapted from Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice.