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Greek Kalamata Feta Rolls

  I am currently of the belief that sticking Kalamata olives and feta cheese into a dish automatically makes it Greek.  These rolls are, by no means, an authentic/traditional Greek fare.  I don't wanna get in trouble.  But, I'm also not going to say that these wouldn't be fantastic with a good glass of wine and a bowl of Dijon by the Mediterranean Sea.  So do with that what you will.

  My brain conjured up this totally savory affair when Joy the Baker posted her next Baking Bootcamp challenge.  I was a bundle of nerves making these for some reason, convinced that it was too far-fetched of an idea and that the flavors just wouldn't mingle well.

  Oh boy was I wrong.  Have a little faith, Ell.  Beauty was created.

  Let me walk you through real quick.

  The starter has risen overnight to create a super-yeasty aromatic bundle of goodness.  The starter is mixed with more ingredients to form a dough, which is allowed to rise for a couple hours.  After that, the dough is pressed and stretched into something like a rectangle.  Upon this rectangle we heap cheese, olives, and fresh oregano.  It's the opposite of cinnamon-sugaring in the best way possible.  Heck yes.  It's like a big ol' Greek pizza, but it's about to get crazier.

  Becauseeee we're rolling up the dough from the long side and then cutting it into six adorable rolls/loaves.  Little rolls that you'll want to cuddle and individually name.  Too weird...?

  Throw them in that obscure non 9x13-inch casserole dish you have lying around just for these kinds of occasions, then cover them up until they get puffy but aren't yet doubled in size.  We're just letting them rest for a bit.

  Oh, pro tip from Joy, spread out those tops so you can expose that lovely filling a little more. 

  With a bit of help from some egg wash, we create some golden rolls of goodness.  

  These rolls made me very grateful.  They are the perfect mid-afternoon indulgence when you just aren't feeling a big dinner.  They are to be savored with friends, parents, and whoever else is around when you pull them magically from the oven.  Dipped in Dijon, just plain, with a glass of somethin', whatever.  Get creative.

  And I swear there is some kind of magic to bread making.  The process of rising, mixing, kneading, and rolling is just so real.  You find yourself sitting with the finished product, your hands pulling apart the perfect spiral you created, and marveling that it all happened because of you.  Because you took the time to do something all from scratch, because you definitely deserve to take the time to do that once in awhile.

  Here's to good rolls, recycling clementine crates, and indulging once in awhile.  Many thanks to Joy for somehow managing to continually push me out of my baking comfort zone, I've really enjoyed these challenges.

  Also, just humor me here while I post too many pictures because I'm kind of in love with how they turned out.  No shame.

Greek Kalamata Feta Rolls
Yield: 6 large rolls

Ingredients for the starter:
  • 1 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water

Ingredients for the dough:
  • All of the starter
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons to 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast

Ingredients for the filling:
  • 1 1/4 cups crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 1/4 cups grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 heaping cup coarsely chopped Kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped oregano (dried will also work in a pinch)

  • One egg, beaten for egg wash
  • Good Dijon mustard for serving, if desired

To make the starter, mix the 1 1/4 cups flour, salt, yeast, and 1/2 cup water in a large measuring cup or small bowl.  Mix till well combined; the starter will be very dry.  Cover and let rest overnight at room temperature; it'll become bubbly.

To make the dough, combine the risen starter with the water, salt, flour, and yeast.  Stir until thick and well combined in a bowl then dump onto a well floured work surface to knead by hand until soft, smooth, and elastic; about 8 to 10 minutes.  Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let it rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until doubled in size.

Gently punch down to deflate the dough, then dump onto a lightly floured work surface.  Pat and stretch it into a 1/2"-thick rectangle, about 10" x 14".  Use your finger tips and hands to stretch out the dough.  No rolling pin required.  Sprinkle the dough with the feta, parmesan, chopped olives, and fresh oregano, leaving about a 1 inch border on one long side of the dough so you can seal it after rolling.

Starting with the long side of the dough the opposite of your 1-inch border, roll it into a log, pinching the seam to seal.  Place the log, seam-side down on a lightly floured surface.  Gently cut the log in half, then cut each half into thirds to create 6 rolls.  Place them in a large, greased casserole dish (or on greased baking sheets) cut side up.  Use your fingers to press the rolls down and spread them open a bit to more fully expose the cheese and olives.

Cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel and let it rise for 45 minutes-1 hour until it's puffy but not necessarily doubled in size.  Towards the end of the rising time, place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 425°F.

Lightly brush loaves with egg wash and place in the oven to bake.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the loaves are a very deep golden brown.  Remove them from the oven, and cool on a rack for about half an hour before serving.  Some good Dijon mustard is recommended for dipping.  Rolls will last, well wrapped at room temperature for up to 4 days.  They are best reheated gently in the oven or toasted before serving.

Sources: adapted from Joy the Baker and King Arthur Flour