As you’ve probably already guessed from some previous posts I’ve written lately, we’ve been thoroughly on the run this summer. I blame that fact entirely for why it has taken me so long to get around to sharing this recipe.
It comes as no surprise I’m sure that we are not health foodies around our house. We eat desserts, and plenty of them. I live on a certain garishly yellowish colored, caffeinated soft drink that keeps me from falling asleep pretty much all the time. I eat more sweets than I should, without a doubt.
I hate to admit it, but there is an awful lot of ‘do as I say, not as I do’ still happening at our house. I’m working on doing better and actually remembering to feed myself as well, but in the meantime, I am glad to say that the kids actually eat a lot better and a lot healthier than I do. They don’t live on cookies and caffeine. They actually eat quite well.
One of the few places that we agree completely is, surprisingly, on what we like to make our sandwiches with.
A few years ago I was introduced to a certain type of thin, round sandwich bread. It boasted being soft and perfect for sandwiches and only 100 calories (which really wasn’t our issue).
Our issue was much more juvenile that that. The following justifications for our love of said round, thin rolls, comes directly from my boys.
Aidan prefers this bread because it isn’t too big to fit in your mouth and seems to him that since it is thinner than regular bread that there is less there for him to deal with eating. When you are a 9-year old boy with ADHD and would much rather visit with your friends during your 15 minutes allotted for school lunch time (starting for this again this week!) every second counts. I love knowing I’m sending him with an appropriately sized lunch that is good for him and that he won’t just ignore and not eat because there’s just too much.
Cole will tell you that he loves this bread for those same reasons, but it is also round. As in, “duh, Mom, it’s round, like a circle, so it doesn’t have any edges.” Thus, why it’s called Circle Bread around our house. As in, “Mom, I want a sandwich. But it has to be on that bread, the round one… you know, the circle bread.” He also then has to make sure I heard him and that it had better be on the CIRCLE BREAD.
Ah. Four year olds!
Me? Well, they ain’t wrong. Plus, it’s pretty darn good for them, tastes good and is better than them not eating their sandwich because it’s a big square that they don’t think they can eat. We do still make and buy other breads, but the thin sandwich bread is our go to for most anything (besides grilled cheese). I do realize there is a certain amount of irony in showing you this healthy bread along side potato chips and a pickle, but please try to keep in mind that my kids are underweight and do not thrive. We still regularly see doctors who encourage me to butter everything, have them eat chips 5 times a day and eat ice cream and milkshakes. The reality is that my boys get mad if I don’t have raw veggies and fresh fruit on their plates. Those items have had to be relegated to dessert territory.
No joke. As in, “you can’t have your broccoli until you eat your chips.” It’s jacked up, I recognize that. All I can say is that if your 4 year old constantly complained to you about being achy from not having enough overall calories and you could count all of his ribs with his shirt off, you’d do the same. They get plenty of foods that just aren’t calorie heavy enough to help them thrive. I recognize that puts us outside the norm, but we do try to balance things out.
ANYWAY, I digress. My difficulty with these bread thins from the store that we like is in actually buying bread. Especially when 8 pre-sliced rolls cost me around $3.50 – that’s about $.44 per roll. Not really all that bad, but if you figure that we can go through that many rolls in just a couple of days for one family, then it adds up.
I decided last year that when at all possible, making our Circle Bread like being able to add extra healthy, sneaky goodies into the bread like walnuts, sunflower seeds, flax, wheat germ… use your imagination. I mentioned that the original thin bread rounds proclaim to be 100 calories each. I analyzed my recipe (which incidentally makes rolls slightly smaller because my kids don’t eat like adults) and each roll comes out at about 145 calories.
I feel good about that. Mine are slightly sweeter, but also have slightly less fat and what is in there is directly from the seeds or nuts added. There are no eggs or oil in the recipe (though it uses a little spray oil on the dough throughout the process to keep from sticking, or you could use butter). The ingredient list on a bag of the store bought rolls lists whole wheat flour, water, unbleached enriched wheat flour, flaked wheat, salt, soybean and/or canola oil and several additives, preservatives, binding agents and sweeteners (they use stevia extract).
All in all, compared side by side, I’d still choose mine, even with the extra 45 calories and slightly smaller width since there are no additives, preservatives, oils, or eggs AND you get omega-3’s from the flax and walnuts.
If all that wasn’t true, it would still be true that I can make a batch of 24 rolls for around the same price in ingredients that it costs to buy at the store. Even if I padded that and said this recipes costs about $5 to make (which I think is a fairly generous statement when you look at that list of ingredients), we’re still looking at about $.20 per roll instead of $.44.
So. Now that I’m off my soapbox on homemade sandwich bread for a minute, how do these rolls taste compared to the store bought ones. In my humble opinion? Way better.
My boys love the taste of the nuts and seeds, so if you and yours don’t, just don’t use them, or decrease the amount. This dough recipe is pretty forgiving, so play around with some of the amounts of the soaker ingredients – you could add a little more flax and less wheat germ, or vice versa. If you do make these rolls, I’d love to know what you think.
We like to make our sandwiches pretty simple, usually just a little dressing, meat and cheese or just a good ole peanut butter and jam sandwich. Whatever you do, you can give yourself a little pat on the back for eating just a little healthier.
Homemade Bread Thin Rolls (aka Circle Bread)
For the soaker:
1 cup hot water
1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon instant yeast
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons ground cornmeal
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
2 tablespoons wheat germ (preferably raw)
Stir together with the paddle attachment in the bowl of a stand mixer on low and let rest, covered with a clean kitchen towel for 15 minutes till bubbly.
For the dough:
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup honey (preferably raw local)
2 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour + extra 1/2 cup if needed
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
2-3 tablespoons finely chopped sunflower seeds or walnuts, or a combination
Egg wash made from 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water (optional – shown here without, just helps with browning)
Oats for topping (optional)
Add the water, whole wheat flour, honey, 2 1/2 cups bread flour, salt, nuts and seeds to the mixing bowl with the soaker mixer from above. With the speed on low stir together well with the paddle attachment again until a soft dough forms that is not too wet or tacky. Switch to the kneading hook and add just enough of the extra 1/2 cup bread flour to knead the dough into a ball that isn’t tacky and clears the sides of the bowl.
Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled, about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.
Remove the dough from the bowl onto a clean work surface and press the dough flat to press out the bubbles. Divide the dough into 24 equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Place each ball onto a lightly greased baking sheet, 12 per sheet on two pans, or 8 per sheet over 3 pans (as shown above). Spray the tops of the dough balls lightly with oil. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set aside for 10 minutes to rest.
Once the dough balls have rested and started to rise for a few minutes, use the clean flat bottom of a measuring cup to gently press each dough ball flatly and evenly, then prick the dough a few times with a fork to keep them from puffing too much during rising. You want the baked shape to stay flat. Once the dough balls have been flattened and pricked you can either use the egg wash then sprinkle with a few oats, or spray lightly again with oil. Cover the flattened rolls with the kitchen towel again and set aside to rise for 30-45 minutes, until risen and slightly puffed, but still flat. The risen dough should be just under 1/2-inch high.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake the rolls until lightly browned and cooked through, 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on rack completely before slicing in half like a burger bun and storing in an airtight container for up to one week, or freeze for up to one month.
Makes 24 5-inch bread thins.