Oh, how we took things for granted in our youth. Those boring little everyday things like these.
I recently had leftover cooked lobsters, and decided the best way to serve the cold lobster meat was in Lobster Rolls. Living as I do in Minnesota, it is not possible to purchase the appropriate rolls for lobster rolls. And we all know that your basic bratwurst bun, while perfectly fine for bratwurst, is NOT a suitable vehicle for the lobster roll, as the sides have a crust, and cannot reach the appropriate texture of toastiness when buttered and grilled as the immortal New England style Split-Top bun. Here is a photo of what I’m trying to explain. Doesn’t that look DIVINE?
Jeffrey Steingarten, food writer for Vogue magazine, in his book It Must Have Been Something I Ate, explains the importance of having the right kind of roll when you make a lobster roll, much like the folks at http://theslowcook.blogspot.com/ and http://www.rootsandgrubs.com/ do, with more eloquence than I could.
What’s a Mainer in Minnesota to do? Make her own, of course. The King Arthur Flour people have sold special pans for these in the past, but they go out of stock quickly, and I couldn’t get one before the lobster got devoured anyway.
So, I searched for a recipe to start from, and I found this one, so thanks to Sally the submitter, whomever she is. I modified this slighty, and we made it with the KitchenAid, so my directions reflect that method.
- Electric mixer with dough hook
- dry measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- pastry cloth/board
- rolling pin
- liquid measuring cup
- mixing bowl, large
- baking pan(s) (9×13 is OK, but I think 2 7×11 pans would be better)
- instant read thermometer
- pastry brush (optional)
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup butter (or 1/2 stick, in the USA) , plus some (optional)
- 23 oz. all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading, rolling, and shaping
- 0.85 oz. sugar (2 Tbsp)
- 0.25 oz instant yeast (1 envelope, or approx. 1 tsp.)
- 0.17 oz table salt (5 grams, or 1 tsp)
- 1 egg
- Melt the butter. (I used the microwave, and a large Pyrex measuring cup.) Add the milk and water. Take temperature of the liquid. If 120 degrees F (50 degrees C), you’re ready to go. If not, heat until you reach a temperature between 110F and 120F, but not over. (Hotter will kill the yeast.)
- Mix 8.75 oz (1 3/4 cups) of flour, yeast, sugar, salt together in the large mixing bowl. Add the milk/butter mixture, and beat together using the paddle attachment on your mixer. Add the egg, and beat it in. Beat in the remaining flour, 2.5 oz. (1/2 cup) at a time, beating well between additions. When the dough has pulled together, switch to the dough hook, and let it knead for 8 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Divide the dough into 12 pieces, (3.5 to 3.75 oz). Roll each piece into a 6 x 4 inch rectangle. Roll them up along the longer side, and pinch the ends together to seal them. Place them seam side down in the greased baking pan, close together, so you will get the fluffy sides when you separate them.
- Let them rise 20-25 minutes in the pan before baking. Bake 10-14 minutes, or until golden brown. Brush top crusts with melted butter (optional) for that lovely shine.
- Remove from pan and let cool completely before separating and slicing.
- To make the top slice, separate a single bun at a time from the “loaf”. Slice vertically through the center top crust, until 3/4 through the bun.
Some photographic evidence of the process is below. Thanks to DH for taking the photos.
Here to the right you can see the lovely lobster that I’d removed from the shells, and was rinsing and drying before refrigerating, for the eventual lobster rolls. And YES, they were delicious!
I think I’d make these in a narrower pan next time, so they’d be a little shorter and wider. I think a 7 x 11 brownie pan would be the right width. This is a remarkably delicate and tasty roll, however, and I’m going to make them again, soon. Might have to make sausages to put in them this time. Or maybe some other kind of filling that would be good with the grilled sides.