Nankhatai (Cookies with clarified butter)

In India, baking was not part of our daily cooking, though in Punjab people used to prepare roti in clay-made oven called ‘Tandoor’ which is still very popular. Other than tandoor there used to be a slightly different kind of oven, built with bricks and clay named ‘Bhatti’ and it was used to roast grains like jowar, chana etc. When Britishers came here, they brought cake, biscuits and bread. Cake was an occasional thing, but biscuits and breads became popular with common people. Overall, baking was more prevalent in South India .

During partition, when thousands of people belonging to Sindhi community came to India from Pakistan, they started baking for employment. I remember my mother and her neighbourhood friends used to take all raw ingredients to one shop and within an hour they used to give soft, warm, melt-in-mouth nankhatai. Slowly, in few years the younger generation of these small shop owner families turned their old fashioned shops into modern style bakery.

Since then nankhatai is my favorite cookie. Generally, it is done with maida only, but I always like slight crunch of rava/semolina in cookies, so I have added that along with wheat flour. If you are not interested into using rava and wheat flour, eliminate both of  them and add white flour in the same quantity.

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Ingredients :

White flour (maida) 3/4 cup
Wheat flour 2 tbsp
Semolina (rava) 2 tbsp
Granulated sugar 1/2 cup (later, powder it)
Ghee (clarified butter) 1/2 cup minus 1-2 tbsp
Cardamom powder 1/2 tsp
Baking soda 1/4 tsp
Baking powder 1/8

All ingredients should be on room temperature.

Process:

Measure and collect all dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix them well.

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Add melted ghee. Remember that ghee should be melted but not warm.

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Gently mix everything and collect it together in the shape of dough. In case you have added more ghee and dough is loose, just wrap it in cling-wrap and keep it in the fridge until it becomes firm to roll nankhatai conveniently.

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Prepare balls of same size from the dough and with your finger make an indent in nankhatai. Keep all of these in ready baking tray.

Keep your baking tray ready by either greasing it with butter/ghee or by rolling parchment paper over it.

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Bake these nankhatai in a preheated oven at 165/170 degrees for 15/20 minutes.

If your oven has hotspots, turn the tray in between for even baking.

Generally nankhatai doesn’t change much colour after baking. These wouldn’t become brown like other cookies, so after 15 minutes, if nankhatai are firm, take them out.

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Taste them warm – they are sinfully delicious ūüėč ūüėč.

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Nankhatai are best as gift option during festivals. To make them more attractive, sprinkle some chopped dry fruits just before packing.

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Eggless Cinnamon Rolls

Before I start telling about the complete recipe for cinnamon rolls, I have one confession. I was totally doubtful about the taste of these rolls. I had never tasted these rolls before I baked them myself. My taste was only limited to sandwich bread and pav buns/dinner rolls. Facebook and Google introduced me to a whole wide range of baking goodies. So I started trying to bake them one by one.

Before Christmas everywhere on social media all you see is ‘cinnamon rolls’ posts. Bakers, bloggers, professionals, everyone is baking them, posting them or reviving their old post of cinnamon rolls. I was slightly sceptical about trying them. First reason was that the recipes had too much sugar in them and second reason was that I felt that these rolls have a lot of cinnamon powder. My usage of cinnamon is limited only to ‘masala tea’ and ‘vegetable pulav’. So I was almost sure that I will not like the taste of cinnamon rolls. Christmas came and went and new year started. The thought of cinnamon buns was still stuck in my brain. Finally I decided to try them with my own recipe and I planned to balance the sweetness with Salted Caramel Sauce

During second proofing time of the dough, power was disconnected and I started thinking that I was doing them with less interest, so probably…….. you know, some silly thoughts! I was about to keep them in the fridge and power was restored. Rolls were in the oven and something unexpected happened. The whole house was filled with beautiful aroma of cinnamon!!! Now I was eagerly waiting to taste them.

In the evening I teach Hindi language to a few kids. New year holidays were over and¬† kids were coming to study. I had almost forgotten this. Kids came and I started teaching. But I couldn’t stop myself¬† from offering rolls to kids to taste. I was eager to know their feedback. I gave them warm rolls and kids loved them a lot. I was doubtful of their response as I thought that they are just trying to be polite. So I also tasted half of the roll and I was so happy and excited with the wonderful buttery roll with cinnamon sweet taste!!! I finished rest half of the bun and suddenly realized that I have not taken the pictures and rolls were disappearing quickly !!!!

 

I drizzled caramel sauce, clicked some pictures and shared buns with some of my friends because I wanted buns to finish fast. Otherwise till the dinner time I would be finding some or other excuse to gorge them.

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If you have never tried baking cinnamon rolls before,  I would strongly suggest that you should definitely try them. I am sure you will be blessed and praised by your family members for giving them such delicious treat!!!

The recipe for preparing the dough for cinnamon rolls is almost similar to my recipe for Sweet milk buns/brioche buns  as I was satisfied with the balanced sweetness of these buns.

Ingredients:

Maida (all purpose flour)        2 cups
Milk powder                              1 tbsp
Salt                                               1/2 tsp
Sugar                                           3 tbsp
Instant active yeast                  3/4 tsp (if using dry active yeast the quantity would be 1 +1/4 tsp and you will have to bloom it before using)
Milk                                               3/4 cup +1tbsp (slightly warmer than lukewarm)
Butter                                              3 tbsp

(All ingredients except milk should be at room temperature)

Filling the rolls:

1/4 cup  brown/white sugar

3/4 tbsp cinnamon powder

Process :

In a big pan take all dry ingredients so that it’s easy to knead.

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Collect all dry ingredients with the help of water into the shape of a rough dough.

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Use rest of the milk and butter and slowly start adding; simultaneously keep kneading the dough till it becomes smooth and develops elasticity. It will take 12-15 minutes. Keep this dough in a well oil greased bowl. Brush some oil on top of the dough to avoid it drying. Cling wrap the bowl and keep it at a warm place for first proofing.

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While dough is proofing, keep your baking tin ready by greasing it with oil/butter and mix sugar and cinnamon powder in a bowl.

Generally first proofing gets over in 50 to 60 minutes but If kitchen is cold first proofing might take 90 minutes. But if you are confused about the proofing, poke your finger in the dough – if the holes don’t fill back, your dough is proofed. If dough bounces back to fill up the holes, it needs some more time to proof.

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Grease oil or spread some flour on clean kitchen counter. Take out the dough after first proofing and punch it gently. Collect together the dough, knead it slightly to make it smooth and spread it in a rectangular shape.

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Apply some melted butter on all over this rectangular shaped dough and then spread sugar-cinnamon mix evenly all over it and roll it into a tight log.

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Cut the log into small rolls and keep these rolls into your baking tray. Brush up some melted butter on these rolls, cover them and keep them for second proofing. Second proofing will be over in 15 to 30 minutes.

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Just 10 minutes before second proofing time is getting over, preheat oven for 10 minutes at 180 degrees and bake rolls on same temperature for 20 to 30 minutes.

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Serve warm buns, and if you want, can drizzle salted caramel sauce on them and relish this wonderful sweet treat with your family and friends!!!!!

 

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Italian Grissini Breadsticks

10th season of ‘Masterchef Australia’ is going to get over soon and I was thinking which next program Apoorva and I will be watching together? Apoorva has no interest in cooking or baking but we both spend really good time watching Masterchef Australia. There was one more TV program ‘Friends’ which she made me watch during her summer vacation. I watched all seasons of Friends with her and enjoyed thoroughly. Apoorva still watches all repeat telecast of ‘Friends’ with the same excitement as if she is watching it for the first time – typical teenage girl!!

The problem with teens are that they are always hungry. Other than three time meals they always need something to munch on… whether they are studying, watching TV, reading novel, listening to music or just like that. As mothers we cook nice dishes for our children but during holidays or weekend we too need ‘me time’. So this Friday I decided to bake hassle free and less time consuming “Grissini Breadsticks” so that she can keep on munching them.

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These are thin, crunchy breadsticks and we can add our choice of flavors. Keep them on your dining table for any get-together or party and your guests will be busy munching them roaming around while they chit-chat!!

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As I baked them for our family only so used wheat flour and all purpose flour, both in equal quantity. You can use only all purpose flour or only wheat flour too and follow the same recipe.

Ingredients :

Maida (all purpose flour) 1 cup
Wheat flour        1 cup
Instant active yeast 3 /4 tsp
Salt 1 +1/2 tsp
Sugar 1 tbsp
Oil 3 tbsp
Water 3/4 cup (slightly more than lukewarm but not hot)
Dried rosemary, oregano, mint powder, black pepper powder, red chilli flakes and salt for flavor.

Feel free to add your choice of spices or herbs or can puree some veggies like carrots or spinach and add them for veggies flavor and beautiful colour.

Process :

Take maida, wheat flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a big size vessel and slowly start adding  water and oil simultaneously. Knead the dough for 10-12 minutes or until it is smooth and pliable.

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Keep the dough in a big size oil-greased bowl for first proofing. Keep the bowl in a warm place. If the temperature of your kitchen is warm, proofing can be over in 50 – 60 minutes but in a cold kitchen it can take half an hour more.

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Once the dough is doubled in size, sprinkle some flour on your kitchen counter or grease it with oil . Take out the dough from the vessel and punch it gently.

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Add your choice of spices or herbs, collect the dough back and slightly knead it to make it smooth. I divided the dough in three parts to add three different flavors with some additional salt. One part had dry mint powder and red chilli flakes. Second had oregano and rosemary and the last one was with salt and pepper powder.

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You can again divide one portion of the dough into small pieces and roll them as thin sticks. There are no fixed rules about the length or shape of these sticks – so don’t worry about the neatness.

While working on one part of the dough, it’s better to cling wrap the rest of the two portions and keep them in the fridge. If kitchen is warm, dough starts blooming. When you are done with one part, take out the other one from the fridge and work.

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Keep all the sticks on parchment paper in your baking tray, brush them with some oil, cover them and keep the baking tray at warm place for second proofing. Second proofing gets over in 15 – 20 minutes.

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Preheat oven at 180-185 degree just 10 minutes before second proofing is getting over, brushup sticks with milk and bake them at the same temperature or probably slightly less for 12-15 minutes. Remember sticks are thin, so they might turn dark brown fast. As each oven has different settings, keep an eye while baking. After baking, taste them – if you feel salt is less, brush them little bit with salted butter – but this is completely optional. Serve crispy Italian Grissini Breadsticks with cheese dip or any sauce.

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Breadsticks (Pizza Hut style), with a healthy twist

Once you start baking your own bread loaf, you will be greedy to try all different varieties in breads. They could be different types of buns, pizza, thick or thin, sweet, salty, spicy breads – there is no limit to trying all of them and sometimes altering them as per our choice.

In India, the most popular bread form is sandwich bread and buns/pav. You can find them at every supermarket and even at a small roadside teashop. But if you are looking for some different varieties in breads, either you have to check at some classic bakery in your city or probably in a five star restaurant or hotels. But in the last few years there is a lot of change into the cooking habits of Indians. Courtesy many food channels on TV, people are experimenting a lot in their regular cooking culture and eating habits.  Opening of chains like Pizza Hut, Pizza ..Corner, Dominos etc introduced complete meal based on different types of breads.

So, a new generation of young Indians, mainly teenagers, who had no interest in learning traditional cooking from their mother are now involved in cooking and baking, inspired by TV food shows, and if they don’t cook, they sure want to bake!! Now along with gas stove a small oven can be seen in Indian kitchens.

My daughter Apoorva loves to visit Pizza Hut any time. Pizza Hut used to be part of her every celebration. But when I started baking, I started baking pizza at home and that’s the only thing in which she helps me completely! Somehow it never occurred to me and even Apoorva never demanded to try Pizza Hut style bread sticks. Few days back I was thinking to try something new in breads, so decided to go for these breadsticks. But I didn’t want to do completely with all purpose flour, so added wheat flour to gave them a healthy twist!

 

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Breadsticks came out really good with cheese on top and I prepared carrot-tomato soup to accompany them. If you want to prepare them completely with all purpose flour, you can follow the same recipe – the only difference will be that you have to reduce the amount of water/milk little bit while kneading the dough as maida absorbs less liquid compared to wheat flour.

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Ingredients :

Wheat flour 2 cups
Milk powder 1 tbsp
Maida (all purpose flour) 1/4 cup
Salt 3/4 tsp
Sugar 1tbsp
Butter 2 tbsp
Instant active yeast 3 /4 tsp
Water 1 cup (slightly warmer than lukewarm but not hot)
Butter (melted) 2 – 3 tbsp, dry oregano, pepper, rosemary, salt and cheddar cheese for seasoning

Tips

1- All ingredients except water should be on room temperature.
2- Absorbing liquid quality of flour is different for everyone. So don’t follow blindly the quantity of water given in the recipe. If required add 1 or 2 tbsp extra or reduce.

3- For first proofing people are generally confused if the dough has doubled or not. My personal simple way to solve this problem is to select a vessel which you think is the exact fit for doubled up dough volume.

For more tips you can check my post Wheat flour buns with pizza spices (2) (basic tips to follow if following a bread /buns recipe)

Process :

Collect wheat flour, milk powder, maida, yeast, salt and sugar in a big broad vessel and mix everything.

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Slowly start pouring water in the flour and start binding flour together. Don’t add entire quantity of water in the flour. Once flour comes together, it will be dry.

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Now keep on adding remaining water slowly as 1 tbsp at a time and start kneading the dough. Remember, dough consistency should be little more wet and sticky than chapati dough. Kneading for the first 8-10 minutes will be a messy task, but after 10 minutes, start adding oil/butter and knead for 5-7 minutes more. Your palms and fingers will be clean now and messy dough will turn smooth.

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Grease a bigger sized bowl with oil and keep the dough in it. Apply oil on top of the dough to avoid it drying and cling wrap the vessel for first proofing.
(Always take a bigger vessel to keep the dough for proofing so that there is sufficient space for the dough to become double in volume).

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Keep the vessel at a warm place for proofing. I always keep it inside my microwave (switched off).

First proofing takes one to one and a half hours, depending on the temperature of your kitchen. During summer it gets proofed within 50 to 60 minutes, but during winter it might take longer.

While dough is proofing, grease the baking tray and keep it ready.

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Once dough is double in volume, first proofing is over.

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Apply little oil on clean kitchen top and take out the dough and punch it slightly.

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Now you can measure and spread parchment paper according to the size of your baking pan. Slightly knead the dough and spread it evenly in your baking pan. Brush it nicely with plain melted butter.

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Now cut the dough into equal size bread sticks and let them rise for second proofing.Second proofing will be over in 20 to 30 minutes.

 

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Just 10 minutes before second proofing is done preheat oven at 180/. Mix oregano, basil, pepper, rosemary, and salt in melted butter and brush breadsticks generously with this seasoning. Spread grated cheese on them and bake breadsticks at 180/for 15 to 20 minutes or till the edges start becoming brown.

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Take them out and sprinkle some more grated cheese and butter and again keep them back in the oven and bake for 5 more minutes. This extra 5 minutes will turn them into crisp from top and soft from inside.

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Enjoy you pizza style healthy bread sticks !!

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Wheat flour savoury buns with caramelized onion and carom seeds

Wheat flour savoury buns are welcome any time in my house! I can have them with breakfast, with evening tea or any time of the day and you can pack them in your kid’s lunch box. If you are having¬† friends get together, serving them fresh baked savoury buns will get you lots of applauds. These were such an instant hit in my house that I couldn’t take a decent picture, so I baked again the very next day!

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With wheat flour I have added milk powder here to keep the buns soft, but if you don’t have milk powder, add all purpose flour or semolina in the same quantity as milk powder.

Ingredients :

Wheat flour        2+1/4 cups
Milk powder       1 +1/2 tbsp
Salt                       1+1/2 tsp
Sugar                   2 tsp
Instant active yeast 1 tsp
Oil                          2 tbsp
Water (slightly more than lukewarm) 1 cup +1 tbsp (if required, reduce or increase as per the absorbing quality of your flour)
Carom seeds        1 tsp
One medium onion (chopped)
One chopped green chilli

Tips:

All ingredients except water should be at room temperature.

Instead of water, milk can be used for kneading the dough or a mix of half milk and half water.

During the baking period when buns are becoming brown, you can give a quick second coat of milk wash and continue baking till they are done. This second coat of milk wash will give beautiful brown colour and buns will remain soft.

These buns can be done with all purpose flour also. All ingredients will remain same except water quantity would be less.

I have used instant active yeast, but if you are using dry active yeast increase the quantity from 1 tsp to 1/2 tsp more.

During second proofing, don’t let the buns get overproofed, otherwise instead of rising in the oven, buns will sink.

for more tips on bread/ buns baking you can check the following link Wheat flour buns with pizza spices (2) (basic tips to follow if following a bread /buns recipe)

Process :

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and add carom seeds to crackle. Add chopped onion and green chilli and saute them until onions get beautiful caramelized brown colour. Keep it separated to cool down.
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Collect all dry ingredients in a big vessel and add ready caramelized onion.

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Start adding water little by little and collect all ingredients in the shape of the dough. Now add one tbsp water at a time and start kneading the dough. Dough would be wet but manageable. Keep adding oil in between 15-20 minutes of kneading and prepare soft dough.

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Keep the dough in a big oil greased bowl, brush up the top of the dough too with oil to avoid it drying. Cover the bowl with a wet towel or cling wrap it and keep it at a warm place for first proofing (i.e., doubling the size of the dough). First proofing gets over within one hour to 90 minutes depending on the temperature of your kitchen (cold temperature will result in proofing taking longer).

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After first proofing is over, take out the dough and punch it gently on your neat oil greased kitchen counter.

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Collect the dough together and divide it equally for same size buns.

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Roll the buns smooth by greasing your palms with oil in between and place them in an oil greased baking pan/plate. Brush up buns with oil, cover them and keep them for second proofing. Second proofing gets over in 20 minutes to 30 minutes.

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Start preheating your oven at 190 degrees just 10 minutes before proofing time is getting over. Brush up buns with milk and bake them at 185 degrees for 20-30 minutes or till they are nicely brown.

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When these buns were getting brown colour, I gave them a quick second coat of milk wash and continued baking till they were completely baked. Buns came out with beautiful brown colour and were very soft.

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Apply butter on hot buns and serve with tea/coffee, sauce or enjoy them just like that !!

 

 

 

Pizza rolls

Apoorva’s unit tests got over on Saturday and she came with one request, “ma, can I have good food today, because again from tomorrow I will be studying for midterm exams”. Now how can you say no…. and for Apoorva, good food is pizza. If I am not able to prepare pizza, then she would be insisting to order, so I thought of baking at home, but this time no pizza, something which I was thinking to try for a very long time….. pizza rolls. I didn’t tell her that rolls are in today’s menu and started my preparation. Apoorva went to her kathak class and first I prepared pizza sauce. Then I started my preparation for rolls. But the problem is that if you are preparing your own pizza sauce, it’s wonderful aroma spreads in the whole house…. so not only family members but neighbors can also sense that something really good is happening..!!!
Well, after coming back from dance class when Apoorva peeped into the oven, she jumped and shouted
with excitement……My life is goooood….!!!!!

Unfortunately, I couldn’t take good pictures because no one had so much patience to just see them and not eat..

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Ingredients

All purpose flour(maida) 3 cups
Milk powder 2 tbsp
Instant active yeast 1 tsp ( if using dry active yeast increase 1/2 tsp more yeast and first bloom it)
Sugar 1 tbsp
Salt 1 tsp
Water 1+ 1/4 cups (slightly warm than lukewarm)
Oil 2 tbsp

Mozzarella cheese

 

Except water all ingredients should be on room temperature.

For all tips and precautions you can check my post for…Wheat flour buns with pizza spices (2) (basic tips to follow if following a bread /buns recipe)

Process :

Collect all dry ingredients in a big vessel.

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Start adding water and collect all ingredients in shape of a dough. (don’t use all water ).

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Now add little quantity of water and start kneading. Keep adding oil in between kneading. Consistency of dough would be wet and sticky in the beginning, but slowly by continued kneading for 10-15 minutes it will get required elasticity.

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Keep this dough in a big oil greased bowl for first proofing. Cover the bowl with cling film, keep it in a warm place so that the dough rises till it is double in volume. This process might take 50 to 90 minutes depending the warm or cold temperature of your kitchen.

If you are puzzled whether first proofing is done or not, just make two holes by poking your fingers in the dough and if these holes don’t fill up, then dough is ready for next process.

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After first proofing, take out the dough on clean oil greased kitchen counter and gently punch it.

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Knead it again to bring the dough back in shape and roll it with a rolling pin or by tapping with your fingers as 15 by 20 rectangular shape and try to keep the thickness even from all sides.

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On this dough sheet spread pizza sauce. Remember, sauce should be thick. Thin sauce will make the dough sheet soggy. I have posted pizza sauce recipe in the blog, if intrested,  you can check it..Pizza sauce

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Grate cheese on the top of pizza sauce.

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Roll the dough sheet tightly and seam the edges tight.

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Now with the help of a sharp knife cut the log in equal size rolls and carefully place them on oil greased baking tray. In doing all this process you have to be careful and fast because dough starts blooming for second proofing. Apply some oil on all rolls, cover them and keep them for second proofing which will be over in 20-30 minutes.

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Just 10 minutes before proofing time is going to get over preheat oven at 185-190 degrees. Give milkwash to all the rolls, sprinkle oregano and fresh basil leaves and bake them on 185 degree for 20-30 minutes as every oven temperature varies.

Serve hot pizza rolls with tomato sauce and enjoy your day !!!!

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