I always have food on my mind. It seems like it’s the only thing I can ever really think about. Even after I’ve just eaten, I start to brainstorm about what I’m going to eat next. And what I’ll eat after that. And after that. And after that. All that deep thinking makes me hungry. It’s just an endless cycle. One that I can’t seem to shake myself out of—not that I’m complaining because thinking about food twenty four hours a day isn’t so bad when you really think about it. What shall I have for dinner tomorrow? How long until breakfast? And would it be okay if I ate two lunches today because I’m really hungry? The answer to which is always yes, two lunches is definitely okay. In fact I highly recommend it because…um hello, two lunches. What’s there to complain about? Let’s get on this two lunches thing as soon as possible, people. Let’s make it happen. I want to live in a society where it’s perfectly acceptable to have two lunches without judgement or fear of being talked about. I’m not sure but I think I just invented two lunches.
I’m constantly on the lookout for any possible situation that would allow me to eat bread, and lots of it too. I wouldn’t say I’m addicted to bread, but let’s just say I can’t get enough of it and I’d be dead if bread had never been invented. Dead, I tell you. Okay, so maybe in some parts of the world this is considered to be an addiction. I like to refer to it as a healthy appreciation for the really good things in life. Nothing wrong with that. Fresh baked bread right out of the oven is like a lethal weapon. Stand back. Homemade bread that you’ve taken a lot of time and effort to make is the best treat on earth. Soft pillows of bread drenched in a flavorful garlic butter sauce with fresh parsley, well that’s just sinful.
I just recently got back from a trip to Asheville, NC, getting some work done with a friend. I remember the first night I got in, we went out to eat pizza and have some beer because I was starving and because I happen to love pizza and beer. We sat down and ordered our extra-large pizza (pepperoni with pineapple, it’s a thing, get used to it) and we got a pitcher of beer because we were thirsty. We were both super hungry so we thought about it for a split second, that’s all it really took to convince us, and decided upon ordering pretzels as well because we didn’t think there’d be enough bread in the pizza itself. SO we told the waitress we wanted the pretzels as well and she offered us a beer cheese sauce (magic) to go along with it. We didn’t even have to think about it twice. Well if I’m being honest, I actually said no but my friend said yes. Ultimately the cheese sauce and pretzels arrived at the table and I ended up eating ALL of the beer cheese sauce myself. I don’t even remember saying no to it, thank you very much. I always wanted it. I realized then and there in North Carolina that bread should always be dipped into a beer cheese sauce. So I got back home and knew that I needed to make a bread of some sort for the blog but only because I needed an excuse to make a beer cheese sauce for dipping. That’s when these garlic knots came into the picture. I regret nothing. As it turns out, garlic knots and beer cheddar cheese sauce are meant to be together. Like two lost souls, finally reunited. Let’s hear it for bread and cheese and garlic and butter and beer!
We going to start this bread making process by waking up the yeast. We’re going to use active dry yeast, and in order for it to work properly, we need to make it un-dry. Yes, un-dry. Throw some warm water into a small bowl.
**Tip: Make sure the water is warm enough to waken up the yeast, but not too hot to kill it. I like to run my fingers through the running water and if it’s just bearably warm, you should be good to go. You don’t want the water too cold or cool either, because then it won’t activate the yeast at all. It’s a thin fickle line between the two.**
Sprinkle in the yeast, and the honey (because yeast needs food just like you and me and it loves to eat things like sugar or honey) and then give it a gentle stir to dissolve.
Allow the yeast mixture to rest for about 5 to 10 minutes in a warm place, until it is forthy and foamy.
**Tip: I like to place it to rest in the oven (turned off) because it’s warm enough, dark and draft free. If your yeast mixture doesn’t froth or foam up after the ten minutes are up, toss the mixture and start from scratch. It’s important for the yeast to activate properly or else the dough won’t rise later on.**
Let’s now mix together the rest of the ingredients. Dump the all-purpose flour into a large mixing bowl. I’m doing this by hand because I want to prove how easy it is, but you can also just mix this together with a stand mixer, attached with the dough hook. That’ll probably be easier for you. I won’t judge you for using a machine while I just used my arm and a wooden spoon. Who’s keeping track?
Add the salt to the flour.
Throw in the olive oil, and the yeast mixture from earlier.
Stir everything with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. Mix for about 5 to 10 minutes. If you’re mixing by hand, you can stop after five minutes and rest for a bit before continuing on. Mix until all the flour is incorporated and the dough is somewhat smooth. It doesn’t have to be perfectly soft and smooth, just yet.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface (somewhere to knead). Get all up in the dough’s face and knead for several minutes until it’s smooth and elastic. Take out all your frustrations and anger on the dough. Go ahead, that’s what it’s there for. That’s the best part about making dough at home. Kneading it like you’ve never kneaded before and never will again. Am I making sense anymore? I can’t tell.
Now that you’ve beaten up the dough and you’ve worked it into a smooth ball, it needs to rest. The gluten in the dough needs to relax and the yeast needs to do it’s thing, by letting it get all puffy and big and flavorful. So place the dough into a large oiled bowl. The oil will prevent the dough from sticking to everything. Cover the dough lightly with plastic wrap and then place a damp kitchen towel over it.
Let the dough rest in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.
**Tip: Don’t forget about the tip from earlier! Let the dough rise in your oven (not turned on). It’s warm and dark enough without any drafts. It’s the perfect place to proof dough. If you have an electric oven and it doesn’t get warm in there on it’s own, then turn on the oven for a bit before making the dough and then turn it off, allowing it to cool down slightly until it’s warm enough to rise bread in it.**
Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down to release all of the air that has built up inside. At this point the dough should be ridiculously soft and spongy and elastic. Is it? Huh? Huh? Huh? I’m sure it is. It’s not that hard to make.
Place the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, once again. Roll it out into a large rectangle. I don’t know the exact measurements, forgive me. I forgot to measure it. But just roll it out into a very large and thin rectangle. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Nothing we do here is ever perfect. Let’s just have fun and enjoy being in the kitchen, right? That’s what we say when things don’t come out perfect. I’m okay with that.
Cut the rectangle into strips of dough. I got about 10 strips of dough. (Again, it doesn’t have to be precise, do whatever you want). Although I cut 10 strips I ended up with 12 knots because I made one of those super long strips into two knots.
Working with one strip at a time, roll the dough into a tight rope. Then tie it into a knot. It might seem a little weird at first, tying bread into knots, but you’ll get the hang of it.
Keep rolling out the dough strips into ropes and then tying them into knots until all the knots are tied. Place them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Allow some space between each for rising and spreading. About two inches should be fine.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap and place a damp cloth over it. Move to a warm spot and allow to rest for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
Once risen, bake the knots in a preheated 375º F oven for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and delicious looking.
**Tip: I like to rotate the baking sheet halfway through baking, just so that I ensure that all of the knots are evenly browned. That’s very important.**
Remove the baked rolls from the oven and allow to cool a bit. In the meantime, lets make the garlic parsley butter that we’re going to brush the knots with. And when I say brush, what I really mean is “drench.” We’re going to drench the knots in this garlic butter because what can be better than garlic and butter and bread? Nothing! NOTHING, I TELL YOU!
Melt some butter in a pot or saucepan, and add a bit of olive oil for flavor as well.
Throw in the chopped garlic (I like to add a few whole cloves just for more added garlic flavor). Allow the garlic to cook for a bit until it begins to brown and get tender and aromatic. Then toss in the chopped fresh parsley and stir cooking for a few more seconds. Reduce the heat to very low and allow to cook for a bit to infuse the butter and oil.
Once the garlic has become lightly browned (not burned, keep an eye on it) lower the heat to as low as it’ll go and just let it hang out. If you think it’ll get too hot, turn it off and rewarm it right before throwing it onto the knots. We’re about to do that, in just a minute. I want to take this a step further, though, if you’ll let me.
Because I like to live on the wild side. I like to tempt you all with delicious things, I think this recipe needs a dipping sauce of some sort. “What?! That’s madness Jonathan!” I know! But it’s true. I must. And we must. So we’re going to make a cheese sauce, but not just any cheese sauce. I think this needs to be a Beer Cheddar Sauce because garlic knots just need, absolutely require, a beer cheese sauce to dip into. Call me crazy. But it’s true. Aren’t I right?
Let’s start our sauce by making a roux. Which is just a mixture of butter and flour.
Melt the butter and cook the flour for a bit to develop a nutty flavor. Then add the milk, beer and Worcestershire sauce. Whisk until completely smooth and well incorporated.
Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture has thickened and bubbled. Then add the spicy brown mustard and season with a bit of salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
Remove from the heat and add the cheese. Stir until the cheese has melted and the sauce is completely smooth.
**Tip: I used a mixture of white and yellow sharp cheddar, but you can use whatever kind of cheese you’d like. All one kind or a mixture of both. You can even use a pepper jack for a more kicked up sauce.**
Okay now that the sauce is done, and ready for us, we can finish up those knots. If your garlic butter/oil isn’t warm anymore, rewarm on the stove over low heat. If it’s still warm, then you’re good to go. I give you permission to brush the knots liberally with the garlicy goodness. If you don’t have a brush or you don’t think it’ll do a good job of getting all that garlic and parsley onto the knots, you can just spoon the mixture over the bread. I won’t mind that at all.
If you don’t plan on eating all of these knots all at once, like I did, then you can reserve the brushing on of the garlic butter until you’re ready to serve and eat. Just store the baked knots at room temperature for a few days in an airtight container. Then when you’re ready to serve, rewarm the knots in the oven. Rewarm the garlic butter on the stove, along with the beer cheddar sauce. Then brush the butter onto the knots and eat warm with the beer cheddar as a dipping sauce. It’s a great way to get it all together later on, when you’re in a hurry. Just have everything ready to go. I also like to grate a bit of fresh parmesan cheese on top of each knot because I think a little more cheese is only necessary. It’s required.
I actually brushed all of the knots with the garlic butter, and ate a bunch. The rest, I put in a food storage bag and froze them (with the garlic butter and parmesan on top). They were totally alright. Then whenever you want a warm delicious snack or want to serve them with dinner, you can rewarm them in the oven for a few minutes to get them soft and warm once again. It’s a great thing to have in your freezer because whenever you are in need of a dinner roll, they’re ready to go just grab them from the freezer and pop them into the oven for a bit. Enjoy!
- 1 cup warm water
- 2¼ teaspoons (1 package) active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons garlic, chopped (plus 3 whole cloves)
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ cup whole milk
- ¾ cup beer (pale ale)
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- In small bowl combine the warm water, honey and yeast. Stir to dissolve and allow to rest in a warm place for about 5 to 10 minutes, or until forthy and foamy. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, olive oil, and yeast mixture. Mix by hand with a wooden spoon, or with a stand mixer (attached with the dough hook) for about 5 to 7 minutes or until the dough comes together and all the flour is incorporated. Knead by machine for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Or transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead by hand until the dough becomes smooth. Place the dough in a bowl that has been lightly oiled. Cover with plastic wrap and a damp cloth, and allow to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
- Punch the dough down and transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Knead a few times and then roll it out into a large thin rectangle. Cut into 12 strips. Working with one strip at a time, roll the dough into a tight rope and then tie into a knot. Place the knots onto a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, leaving about 2 inches of space in between each. Once they've all been knotted, cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and a damp cloth. Place in a warm place and allow to double in size, about 4o minutes to an hour.
- Bake in a preheated 375º F oven for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Make the garlic butter sauce.
- Heat a skillet or pot over medium heat. Melt the butter and add the oil. Throw in the chopped and whole garlic cloves, and cook for a few minutes until the garlic becomes tender and lightly browned. Stir in the chopped parsley and cook for a few seconds. Lower the heat to low and allow to cook for about 5 minutes to develop the flavor. Brush the knots with the warm garlic butter. Sprinkle with sea salt and grated parmesan. Eat right away, warm. Or rewarm and serve later on. Leftover knots can be stored in the fridge or freezer and rewarmed when ready to eat. Can be served alongside a beer cheddar sauce for dipping. Recipe follows.
- To make the beer cheddar sauce: Heat a sauce pot over medium-high heat. Melt the butter and add the flour. Whisk together to form a paste and cook for a few seconds to develop a nutty flavor. Slowly stream in the milk, beer and Worcestershire sauce, whisking constantly until smooth and well incorporated. Cook for about 5 minutes, and allow to thicken. Add the mustard and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and add the cheese. Stir with a wooden spoon until melted and smooth. Serve warm with the garlic knots. Enjoy!!
- yield: 12 knots