For most of my friends spinach always means Papai, but not for me. spinach is the celebration of the winter. although, my struggle with the cold is like a tragic Shakespearean play!. But with cold other beautiful things are around, like sahlab ( an Egyptian hot drink), shorbet 3ads (lentils soup) ,and of course the queen of the winter SPINACH.
Every year, in the spinach season I come up with a long list of recipes to try. spinach is welcomed in every possible way. I can have it in a pie, as a dipping sauce,or cooked with tomato sauce with meat and broth (according to older Egyptian generations this is the only accepted way :)) , I even invented a corn and spinach soup.
This year, as I’m filling my kitchen on the weekends with the rustic aroma of home baked bread, an idea came to my mind to introduce my loyal green friend ”spinach” to bread, I had superstitions of a wonderful marriage between the two. I once had spinach bread at Zooba which is a famous Egyptian restaurant, their menu features a traditional Egyptian bread with the addition of spinach. the flavor was not dominant, the color was the only proof for the spinach.
So, for the love of spinach ,I decided to have my own signature spinach bread rolls.
And what’s better than spinach and mushroom cream to dip with these rolls?Nothing.
In the beginning, I wasn’t very sure how to mix spinach with the bread dough, until I found my inspiration on The fabulous baker brothers , which is one of my favorite shows. one of the brothers mixed a bunch of spinach with melted butter and added yeast and warm milk to the mixture, eventually, incorporating the mixture with flour and other ingredients for a spinach muffins recipe.
And that’s what I started with, melting the butter and then I added a bunch of defrosted spinach to the cooled butter.
I didn’t add yeast as he did. instead, I mixed the yeast with water and sugar then let it proof for about 10 minutes, before adding the spinach , salt and two cups of the all purpose flour. With the stand mixer, I mixed them well, then added two more cups of flour, half a cup each time, while the mixer is working on the dough.
When the dough started to come together and pulling away from the sides of the bowl, it was time to get it out and give it some love :).
On a floured surface, I kneaded my dough a little bit more, shaping it into a nice rounded ball.
My lovely dough took a nap for an hour, with the yeast feeding and nourishing inside,in an oiled bowl.
After an a hour, the dough doubled in size.
I love this particular moment, when I punch the dough to deflate the air from inside, and give it more love on the well floured kitchen counter.
I divided my dough into 16 equal sized balls,sprinkled dried thyme on top. and let them rise again in the baking pan, which I lined with parchment paper.
The balls took about 30 minutes to rise. then I baked them for 25 minutes in a 200 degrees C oven.
You know the dough is ready, when you tap on the bottom of one of the rolls, and it sounds hollow.
You can see the spinach pieces well incorporated in the rolls. They are different from Zooba’s bread, because here you can see spinach pieces, but their bread looks totally green without the pieces. I could have pureed the spinach butter mixture before adding to the yeast, but I wanted to try it this way.
Although you can see spinach, It’s flavor wasn’t strong as I wished. that’s why I made this dip to go through with the rolls.
We love spinach dip, me and my husband always order it with tortilla chip at Ruby Tuesday’s. Chili’s also have spinach queso appetizer, which we love too. I always wanted to have my own virgin, so I did my search, and found tons of recipes. at the end, I made it with what I found in my fridge, very simple and easy.
First, I chopped mushrooms into medium pieces and saute them. meanwhile, in the food processor, I combined spinach with garlic, mayonnaise,sour cream, oil, and cream cheese seasoned them with salt and pepper. processed them until smooth.
After the mushroom cooled they were added to the spinach and after a few more pulses the ingredients were perfectly combined. I transformed the dip into two small pottery bowls and baked them in the oven for 20 minutes. you can add mozzarella or whatever cheese you like.
It’s ready for dipping once it’s out of the oven, don’t let it cool or the cheese will harden and you won’t like it.
I enjoyed opening the roll with my hand, and feel the outer hard crust, and the inner soft and tender bread, then dip it in the spinach cream.
these rolls taste incredible, the warmth helps with the cold weather, and most of all they taste like home.
Enjoy it the way you like,,
*for the bread:
– 1 1/2 cups warm water.
-1 tsp active dry yeast.
-1 tsp sugar.
-2 Tsp melted butter.
-A bunch of frozen spinach ( I always get them fresh from the local market, wash and chop the leaves, then store them in the fridge. to get it ready, I defrosted a bunch in the microwave and squeeze it to drain the excess fluid.)
-1 tsp salt.
-4 cups all purpose flour.
*for the spinach and mushrooms cream ( to be honest, unless it is baking I don’t believe in ingredients, I use my sense,anyway here are the ingredients):
- 1/2 cup saute mushrooms.
- Defrosted bunch of spinach ( if you like it too green use more spinach than cream).
- 2 cloves of garlic.
- 1/2 cup sour cream.
- 1/2 cup cream cheese.
- 2 Tsp mayonnaise
- 1/2 tsp salt.
- 1/4 tsp pepper.
-In the stand mixer bowl, stir yeast and sugar in the water. and let it proof for ten minutes.
-Meanwhile, melt the butter and add the spinach and stir them together.
-When you see bubbles on the surface of the yeast, it’s time to add spinach, salt and 2 cups of flour. kneed the dough with the mixer. if you don’t have a mixer, use a wooden spoon to bring the dough together.
-Then add the remaining amount of flour, half a cup each time, while mixing.
-When the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl, transfer it to a floured surface and knead it a little bit more, shape into a nice rounded ball and let it rise for an hour in an oiled bowl for an hour or until it’s doubled in size.
-Preheat the oven to 200 degree C. line the baking pan with parchment paper.
-Deflate the dough to get the air out. then divide it into 16 equal sized balls, and line them in the baking pan.
-Bake for 20-30 minutes. you know it’s ready when you tap on the bottom, and hear a hollow sound.
-For the mushrooms and spinach cream:
-Saute mushrooms, and let it cool for 10 minutes.
-Meanwhile, in the food processor, combine spinach, sour cream, mayonnaise , cream cheese, garlic, oil, salt and pepper. process until creamy and well combined.
-Add the mushrooms and pulse again.
-Transfer to a medium sized baking pan, use Pyrex or pottery bowls and bake for 15-20 minutes.