During our college days in Santa Barbara, there was an Italian restaurant called Palazzio that was a popular place for freshman to go out to eat with their parents when they were in town. Parents must have liked it because of the self-serve wine casks on the restaurant walls (regulated by the honor system). I know the students liked the complimentary soft, buttery, garlicky rolls that appeared at your table soon after ordering. I loved those rolls. It was a challenge to not fill up on them before your pasta arrived. I always wondered if Palazzio was scheming to make sure we all gained the “freshman-15.”
I ate at Palazzio with Dustin and his mom when we were newly dating freshman year. It was the “meet my mom” dinner. He was nervous and dropped one of those buttery, garlicky rolls on my red suede pants (yes, I wrote red suede pants; and I rocked them). I’m not sure that stain ever came out (not that they fit me anymore so it’s a moot point), but I eventually married Dustin, so I obviously put the roll incident behind me.
I made these Soft Garlic Knots for another recipe swap. The theme this time was “Secret Recipe Club” – a popular food blogging event where you are randomly assigned someone’s blog, and you can choose which recipe you want to make and blog about. The flexibility appealed to me, so I decided to join in. I was assigned Simple Gourmet Cooking. I spent a good day or so looking through all of Dawn’s recipes. Choosing was overwhelming at first! I wanted to choose something that was a favorite in Dawn’s household so decided to narrow my search down to her “favorite posts of 2011.” When I saw the Soft Garlic Knots on this list, they immediately reminded me of my college days, Palazzio, and the first time I met my future mother-in-law. I knew this was the recipe I was going to make. I also wanted to expand my yeast-bread horizons. It’s always good to challenge yourself in the kitchen!
I’m so glad I did. These garlic knots were easy to make and shape (even with kneading the dough by hand since I don’t have a stand-mixer). And the garlicky-buttery glaze that you brush over the tops is just what they need to go from ordinary dinner roll to over-the-top dinner roll. I took Dawn’s advice and brushed the knots with even more glaze before serving. It’s hard to go wrong with more butter. Dustin, Levi, and I devoured them with our bowls of soup, and you’ll be happy to know that no one dropped a garlic knot on anyone’s lap.
Soft Garlic Knots
For the Dough:
3 cups bread flour
1 TBS. sugar
2 tsp. instant yeast*
1 1/4 tsp. salt
2 TBS. olive oil
1/4 cup milk
1 cup plus 2 TBS. lukewarm water
*I used active dry yeast and proofed it in the 2 TBS. lukewarm water before adding it to the dry ingredients.
For the Glaze:
2 cloves garlic
3 TBS. melted butter
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning*
* I used a combination of things I had on hand – some dried oregano, chopped fresh rosemary, and crushed red pepper flakes. Not quite Italian seasoning, but it didn’t seem to matter much in the end.
Combine the dry ingredients in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the olive oil, milk and water. Mix until ingredients have formed a dough (alternatively you can use a hand-mixer as I did). Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes (I used my hands to achieve this). Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turn once to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.
Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces.
Roll each piece into a 10-inch long rope.
Tie the rope into a knot.
Take the end lying underneath the knot and bring it over the top, tucking it into the center.
Take the end lying over the knot and tuck it underneath and into the center.
Transfer shaped rolls to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for 45 minutes, until puffy.
To make the garlic butter, finely mince the garlic and mix with the melted butter and Italian seasoning.
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Brush the glaze onto the shaped rolls, reserving a little to brush on after baking, if desired. Bake until set and lightly browned, about 15-18 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving. Brush with more glaze.
If you want to freeze the garlic knots, slightly under-bake them (about 12-15 minutes), allow to cool completely, and store in a freezer bag. Bake frozen garlic knots as listed in the instructions above, approximately 15 minutes, until heated through. Brush with glaze.