Azodicarbonamide ... I can spell it, but pronouncing it is another story. Many believe that this chemical compound should not be in our foods. Why? Well, yoga mats and shoe rubber both contain it and even covered in caramel sauce, neither sounds very appetizing. They also use it to condition dough or as a bleaching agent in flour. Really? And we should feel pretty good about it because the United States Department of Agriculture classifies it as “generally recognized as safe." That label is also on many other foods we eat, or choose not to eat. Well, I can verify that there isn’t any of that stuff in the spinach that I just harvested from the garden and the company that I buy my flours from has verified that they don’t even bleach their flour. I don’t want to “feel good” about the products I use, I want to be positive that every product I use “does no harm."
So in saying all of that, I have been more conscientious and have been trying to cook on the lighter side. Sometimes I have to compromise. One evening, I served my “pasta hating husband” Pasta (vegetable) Primavera. At dinnertime I looked at his sorry face and told him that the next day I would make him Stromboli. “That has meat in it, right?” he said. I nodded. He then exclaimed “You never have to tell me you love me again if we always have meat with dinner." Big sigh on my part. Sometimes the compromise is making burgers or hotdogs for dinner.
What I really find unnerving, is that after someone decided to educate the rest of us about Azodicarbonamide and then called restaurants to the carpet, I couldn’t even find one hamburger/hotdog bun in my grocery store that didn’t have it listed in their ingredients. Not one. I usually purchase buns because I had tried making them and they always turned out heavy and dense. So what is a bread baker to do? Find a better recipe for buns. So I tried a crescent roll recipe. Downright delicious.
Crescent dough has a different texture than a regular dough. It is lighter and softer and needs to be treated delicately. I have used it as a wraparound for hotdogs and then as rolls for sandwiches.
2 cups of warm water (I do not use warm water from the tap, I use cold water and slightly warm it on the stove to less than 120 degrees)
2/3 cup nonfat dry milk
2 tbsp dry yeast
¼ cup organic cane sugar
2 tsp salt
½ cup (softened) butter
4 ½ to 5 cups of all-purpose flour
Dissolve the dry milk in the water. Add the yeast and stir slightly. I give the yeast a couple of minutes to rest in the liquid so that I can watch it come alive. I then add the sugar, salt, butter, eggs and 2 cups of flour. Mix slowly while listening to some soothing music, you and the dough will be better for it. Slowly add 2 more cups of the flour and start stirring it more swiftly. Add another ½ cup of the flour and mix it until smooth. Oil the sides of the bowl (so the dough does not stick) and cover the bowl with a pastry cloth or a piece of plastic wrap that has been sprayed with oil so that it does not stick to the dough. Let raise for 45 to 60 minutes. It should have easily doubled in size. Divide in half and roll each half into a circle on a pastry mat that has been sprinkled with flour. Cut your circle into 8 even pie pieces. Roll each piece into a crescent starting at the outside edge and rolling towards the center. Place each roll on a parchment paper lined pan. Let them raise again and then bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.
When I use these rolls for hotdog buns, after the first rise, I do not roll up the pieces that I am going to be using for hotdogs. I let them rise flat after they have been cut and then place the hotdog at the larger edge of the dough and roll up just before baking. I bake the rolls on a separate pan from the hotdog rolls. They are so good and if using them as hotdog buns, you could make your favorite sauce to dip them in instead of putting your condiments on the hotdog. We learned from experience that you must let them cool before biting into them. The hotdog stays quite hot for a little while. One of these days, I plan on dividing the dough into 4 equal parts and making them smaller as dinner rolls.
So back to Azodicarbonamide. Does flour have to be bleached? No. The less processed the ingredient, the closer you are to the way it was nourished by nature. Profit and lack of patience is usually behind the human manipulation of ingredients. What is that old saying? Mother knows best. Well in this case, it’s Mother Earth.