As St. Patrick’s Day approaches, an excitement fills the air. People are preparing their most impressive green outfits, planning meals of “traditional” corned beef and cabbage (bleh), and most importantly, stocking up on the libations. You don’t need much of an excuse to drink around here, but this holiday seems like the perfect reason to get totally smashed, so that seems to be the point of the whole day by the time one reaches college. Of course, I don’t drink and am not even the least bit Irish, so this holiday has typically fallen through the cracks for me. To be perfectly honest, I still don’t know what it’s all about or how one is supposed to celebrate without imbibing great quantities of alcohol, but I’ve decided that I want to pay my respects to the celebration in the only way I know how: By baking!
Setting aside the sugar after having overdosed a bit on marshmallows, it was high time to get something green back into my body. And what could be more appropriate for St. Patrick’s day than green clovers, after all? Smuggling a handful of spinach into the young dough, I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not about to fulfill anyone’s daily requirement, but it did add some lovely flavor and just a hint of natural coloring.
Even if this holiday doesn’t hold much significance for me, just pulling those lovely golden buns out of the oven was cause for celebration. Finally, a simple sort of bread that is cooperative, easy, and incredibly tasty, appropriate for more than just special occasions, too. Even my mom was taken aback by how “buttery” they were! For all those who are yeast-phobic, give this one a try- You might just find that you luck will improve. It’s no coincidence that they embody such a fortuitous symbol!
Four-Leaf Clover Rolls
1 Cup Soymilk
1 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
1 Package Dry Active Yeast
1/4 Cup Margarine
1 Tablespoon Flax Seeds
2 Tablespoons Water
2 Teaspoons Salt
1/2 Cup Frozen Chopped Spinach, Thawed
4 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 Tablespoons Margarine, Melted
Briefly heat the soymilk just until it’s lukewarm, around 90 degrees or so. Add in the sugar and yeast and let it sit for about 15 minutes to become frothy and active.
When ready, melt the 1/4 cup of margarine and add it to the liquid mix. Grind up the flax seeds using a spice or coffee grinder, and then process them for just a minute with the water. Incorporate this into the other liquids as well, along with the salt and thawed spinach (make sure you squeeze as much water out as possible!)
Now, transfer this mix into your mixer and begin gradually adding flour in a couple of installments. You may need more or less than called for, so just keep an eye on it and allow it to fully combine everything before changing the amounts. Once it has more or less come together, switch in your dough hook, and allow it to process for about 10 minutes, until it’s a smooth elastic ball. You can also knead it by hand, but be aware that it will take longer to reach the proper texture.
Lightly grease a large bowl and drop the ball of dough in, covering lightly, and allow it to sit in a warm place for about an hour and a half, until doubled in size. After it’s nicely risen, lightly grease a muffin tin in which to house the rolls. Gently punch the dough down, and cut it into four pieces. Each of those pieces should be cut into 12 more pieces, and then you’ll want to roll each of those pieces between your hands to form nice smooth little balls. Fit four balls into each muffin indentation. Cover the whole tray with a clean towel, and let it sit to rise again for one and a half hours.
As the rolls near the end of their final proofing, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and melt the single tablespoon of margarine. Lightly brush the tops of each roll with the margarine just before popping them into the oven. Bake for about 16 – 20 minutes, until golden brown. Let them sit in the muffin tin for 10 minutes after leaving the oven, and then finish cooling them on a wire rack.
Makes 12 rolls.