Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sundays with Sparky - Dolsot Bread: Stone Bowl Yeast Rolls

Christmas Eve found our little family at the local H-Mart, picking up last-minute grocery items for our holiday feast.  My husband suddenly left Sparky and I to admire the live octopus in the big fishtank, and returned with a heavy, lumpy package that he told me not to touch.

Of course, my curiosity was piqued: what could he have bought me?  A wok? A pet?  A cake? A new especially-lumpy variety of cheese?  On Christmas Day, the lumpy package was revealed to be a Korean Dol Sot, or stone bowl!  Yay!

Sheepishly, my husband said "I was looking for a jewelry case...but then I saw this and thought, 'she could put jewelry in there' ...or...cook in it...yea, you're probably going to cook in it, aren't you."  Probably going to cook in it?  (Seriously - you read this blog - what did you think I was going to do with it? ;-) ) God bless my husband, who knows I might well convert even a conventional jewelry case into a cooking device.

Dol Sot BiBimBap is one of my favorite dishes EVER!  BiBimBap (Bap meaning rice in Korean, while bibim can be translated as mixed-up, or mishmash) is a traditional homestyle Korean dish, designed to artfully and tastefully dress up leftovers, especially the Korean vegetable garnishes called panchan.  They're served arranged over rice, and covered with a lightly-fried egg; then the whole thing is mixed together with a spicy sauce - a bowlful of crunchy, healthy goodness.  Dolsot BiBimBap takes this meal a step further: the Dolsot is greased with sesame oil, heated to screaming-hot, and the BiBimBap is arranged so the rice on the bottom gets crispy and delicious.

Sparky had asked for plain white rice to go with our traditional English-style Standing Rib of course, I immediately pressed the Dolsot into service, and as soon as it was seasoned, I made some plain white rice and seared it in the bowl on my stovetop.  It was delicious, containing nothing more than rice and a small amount of sesame oil, and it went surprisingly well with our fairly traditional meal.

But this post isn't about Christmas.  This post is about suddenly discovering a...a unitasker has made its way into one's tiny urban kitchen.  NOOoooo!  After scouring the internet, I discovered that a Dolsot has one job, and one job only: to crisp-up precooked rice (robo-translators being what they are, it's quite possible that there are websites with better information than I was able to find; so any of you who know better, please comment!)  Delectable as crispy rice is...I can't dedicate the cabinet space to a seven-pound solid-stone rice crisper poised to leap off a shelf and break my toe at any moment.

So, Sparky and I put our heads together and thought.  We thought about shoes, and ships...we thought about cabbages and kings...we thought about the World Series in 1975...and I suddenly thought of pizza stones!  Of course!  The bowl shape of our Dolsot was perfect for crisping rice - so it should be perfect for crisping bread, too!  Eureka!

So I looked up recipes for pull-apart dinner rolls.  I heated the Dolsot slightly on the stovetop so it would be warm for the rise, and combined the following in our KitchenAid mixer:

1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 1/3 cups very warm water
1 package or 2 1/4 teaspoon of dry active yeast

I waited for five minutes, until the yeast was frothy.  Then I added the following:

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

I mixed them for 10 minutes until I had a smooth, elastic dough.  This I covered and set aside on our stovetop (a warm place) until it doubled in size and, when poked, the indentation remains - about half an hour.

I then asked Sparky to punch it down, which he approached with his usual sense of literality and vigor:



Sparky then patted and rolled the dough out into a rectangle and cut it into squares with a pizza cutter, while I prepared a "bath" of garlic oil:

1/4 cup of olive oil, 3 chopped cloves of garlic (note: do NOT keep raw garlic in oil unless you plan to cook it) and 1 tbsp chopped fresh herbs (in this case, rosemary and parsley,) heated gently in a saucepan until the garlic began to sizzle, and then removed from the heat and poured into a ramekin for easy roll-bathing.

013Sparky then pulled each square into a ball by its corners, bathed each in the garlic oil and piled them randomly in the slightly warm Dolsot.


The remainder of the oil was poured over the top. The Dolsot was covered and the dough allowed to double in size, again about half an hour.

At this point, the entire thing, lid and all, was put into an oven preheated to 300 degrees, which was then raised to 375. After about 15 minutes, the lid was removed, and the bread baked uncovered for another 15 minutes.


Yess! Our objective achieved, we basked in the warmth of our rice-crisper/bread baker, and especially enjoyed the pebbly-crisp bottoms of our garlic pull-apart rolls.

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