Roll Call Transcript

The Kitchen

GUESTS: Mannequin Father
             Mannequin Mother
             Mannequin Sister
             Mannequin Son

    Hi, I'm Alton Brown. And after years of tireless research, I've come to the conclusion that the maelstrom of mediocrity in which our culture currently finds itself spastically spinning, was set into motion by an event that took place right here at the very epicenter of our civilization, the dinner table. [camera pulls back to show AB at the dinner table with a "nuclear" family of Mannequins] And furthermore, I propose that the straw that broke the camel's back was, in fact, a particular edible. And I imagine the scene was something like this.

Mannequin SON: [AB speaks for each of the Mannequins] Hey, Sis, give me a roll!
Mannequin FATHER: Hey, careful there, Sport. Don't forget your manners.
M Son: Okay, Dad. Please pass a roll.
Mannequin SISTER: Gee, Ricky, I don't even see any rolls.
MF: Hey, say, honey, where are the rolls?
Mannequin MOTHER: I didn't bake any today.
M Son: Aw, mom.
MF: Gee, Hon, what gives?
MM: Well, since you got your hours cut, I had to get a job. So I barely had enough time to get dinner on the table. So if you guys want rolls, you can jolly well learn to make them yourself.
MF: Oh. [pause] Who's for going out?
KIDS: Yeah!

    Once the soft, aromatic, warm, yeasty, ever so slightly sweet, edible hug that is the dinner roll disappeared from the American table, our civilization began to quietly crumble. Is it too late to get our hug back? Maybe not. But, we're all going to have to bake tall, and answer the roll call of ...

[Good Eats theme]

The Kitchen

GUEST: Yeast Sock Puppets

    Each and every culture that bakes, bakes small breads. And some of the cultures in question bake hundreds of different types of small breads. In America, such breads became known as rolls, because you typically rolled the dough to shape it. Now a hundred years ago, rolls were considered fast food because they were so much quicker to make than larger loaves, which typically require a long rise and baking time. It's a fact which can easily be grasped by these comparative illustrations [references the chalkboard with a small oval and large oval on it.]
    Now just to be clear, rolls are differentiated from muffins and biscuits by virtue of yeast ...

YSP: [pops up and begins burping]

... which are responsible for lifting all rolls and buns—which are nothing more than sweetened rolls. Unless you're talking about hamburger buns, but that's another show.

    Now as is the case with big breads, all rolls fit into one of two categories, lean and rich. ...

AB: [to YSP] Get down.

... Now while our cultural forefathers, the English, tended towards lean, hard rolls, here in America, the influence of Germanic cultures steered our rolls towards the rich-side of the spectrum by introducing milk, butter and a bit of sugar to the equation.


    [at the counter] Behold, the fantastic four of bread-dom: flour, water, yeast, salt. Without them, bread just ain't bread. Now the starch and protein of the flour provide for bread's structure. And it should be noted that unless you're making really crusty, rustic loaves, bread flour with it's added protein content just isn't necessary. All-purpose or A-P flour will do us just fine.
    And then there's the water which hydrates the flour components and provides the moisture the yeast need in order to break down and consume the flour, thus producing CO2.

YSP: [3 rise up and start burping again]
AB: Um, look, yeast ... look, we, we need to talk. I know you've been portraying yeast for, for a long time on this show. But frankly, we've had some complaints. You see, you guys don't even look remotely like real yeast. I mean, you've got eyes and mouths and whatever those things are on your heads. Well, we've been asked to come up with something more lifelike. And so, we're going to be going with these.
YSP: [begins to whine]
AB: Yeah, I know. It's hard for me, too. But, I have to let you guys go.

YSP: [one burps loudly]
AB: No. No severance. But I will provide excellent references for all of you. I will.
YSP: [exit slowly and sadly while mournful music plays them off]
AB: [opens the back door as the YSP march out] Good luck. Bye.

[taken from AB's blog at]

    [Several of you have inquired via occasionally inappropriate channels as to how we pulled off one shot in our recent dinner roll show wherein a host of yeast puppets marched out the back door. This snapshot should fill in the blanks.
    Speaking of blanks, I did blank out the faces of the crew who might be embarrassed to be stuck working on a cable cooking show. A]

    Now as I was saying, the yeast will in the presence of water, warmth and food, come to life producing a lot more yeast while giving off CO2 in the process. [gestures to new Yeast, it falls over] ... CO2 in the process. [gestures again and falls over again] Speaking of yeast, many recipes these days call for rapid-rise or instant yeast. And in past episodes I, myself, have extolled their virtues because they are super- charged microbes, they ferment quicker than standard active dry yeast—because the granules actually contain more living yeast—and they are packed with stimulants such as vitamin C. And yet, I have found that with proper treatment, active dry yeasts are just as good. And when both sugar and fat are added to the mixture, I actually think they do even better job. More on that in a minute.
    Now, uh, ... Oh, let's talk about salt. A lot of writers these days are fond of saying that it's optional. But in bread making, that is simply not the case. Without at least a little salt, bread tastes dead, ... [continues to try and get the new yeast to stand up which keeps falling over] ... unpalatable, no matter how much butter you smear onto it. Salt also strengthens gluten which we'll get to shortly. And it also helps to prevent staling. Of course, I do prefer to use kosher salt in baking, but you could use sea salt, course salt, or even regular table salt if you are so inclined.
    So, this humble quartet can certainly yield some satisfying lean rolls. But if we're going to produce the edible hug that is the American soft dinner roll, we have to bring some modifiers online. Milk, butter, sugar and eggs can enhance both flavor and texture. Sugars—including sucrose and lactose from the milk—caramelize to create complex flavors. Sugar is also hygroscopic so it clings to water tenaciously preventing the final bread from drying out. Fat in the form of butter and egg yolks also lubricates gluten structures and adds considerable flavor. Egg yolks also contain emulsifiers which can which help to integrate fat into the dough itself. Best of all, we don't really need a lot of any of these to effect big changes.

Before commercial yeast hit the market home
bakers had to use suds from local brewers.

The Kitchen

    [walks into shot, notices one of his new yeast laying around and tosses it aside] Having considered the software, we now turn to our method of assembly. Now these steps comprise what is called the Straight Dough Method. We have mix, rest, knead, rise, punch down, shape, proof, bake, and cool.


    I've adjusted this list so that it better represents the actions that we will be undertaking here: integrate, hydrate, integrate part two, stretch and align, double, redistribute, portion, configure, double, bake, cure.


    It's a tough list to memorize. Which is why I penned this handy mnemonic phrase, "I have imagined seeing a demented, rabid platypus carelessly drinking blue cocktails." Now that's not something you're likely to forget anytime soon.


    Our dough begins with eight ounces of whole milk  heated to 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the work bowl of your stand mixer, followed by a third of a cup of sugar, a tablespoon plus a teaspoon of yeast, two egg yolks, then 15 ounces by weight of all-purpose flour. Last, but no least, two and a half teaspoons of salt. Go ahead and fit that to the mixer and work with the paddle attachment—that's important—for about a minute or until the dough just comes together. Low speed is all you'll need. 8 Ounces Whole Milk
1/3 Cup Sugar
1 Tbs. + 1 tsp. Active Dry
2 Egg Yolks
15 Ounces All-Purpose Flour
2˝ tsp. Kosher Salt


    There. Brilliant. Now that the first, or alpha, integration is complete, we will move to the hydration phase. We've got to change the paddle for the dough hook. So just go ahead and pull that off. I find that a powder-free latex exam glove from the drug store is ideal for the job. Of course, if you have a latex allergy issue, you should vinyl. Works just as well.


    Now the hydration part of the program is going to last 10 to 15 minutes, and it's important for several reasons. [returns the dough to the mixer bowl, inserts the dough hook and covers all with a tea towel] One, it will give the flour time to soak up some moisture, making the dough easier to knead later on. Two, it will allow time for the proteins glutenin and gliadin to come together to form the all important gluten structures. And as for the yeast, this will get the little critter plenty of time to wake up and spring into action. [is now at the new Yeast and is eagerly waiting for something to happen] Realistic? Maybe. Boring? Definitely. [exits]
    [10 minutes later, returns] Well, it's been 10 minutes and, hey, we've made progress. [returns to the new yeast and now there are two of them] Good thing, too, because I was starting to think my spore was on death's door. [laughs at his bad rhyme]

    Time for the second or beta integration. Turn the mixer to low, and work in two ounces of room temperature butter cut into, just like, four pieces. Now you may ask, "Why do this now?" [as opposed to earlier]. Simple, because fat interrupts gluten formation and we need us some gluten. By holding off with the butter, we've given the gluten a head start.
    Okay, when the dough looks like that, boost the speed to medium and work it for eight minutes, not one second more or less if you please.
2 Ounces Butter, Room

Integrate [2]


    Now in the Straight Dough procedure, this phase of the operation is referred to as "kneading". But in the "Rule of the Rabid Platypus", it is stretching and aligning. Because during this time, the gluten strands created during hydration are stretched and aligned so that they may form sheets capable of capturing the yeast's effervescent effluvium. [back at the yeast expecting something]

AB: [to the sound guy] Bring it down. Bring it down. Bring it down. Listen.
SOUND GUY: [lower mic boom]
YSP: [light breathing sounds are heard, the mic knocks one over]
AB: Oh, bother.



     Alright, if our stretching and alignment has been successful, then we should be able to get a good "window pane" out of this. Just take the dough, kind of stretch it between your fingers the way you ... well, kind of the way that you would work bubble gum with your tongue right before blowing a big bubble. Kind of like that. Stretching, pulling and turning. There. That's what good development looks like right there. Perfect. This is done.

    So we evacuate the work bowl, and move to the counter top that's just lightly dusted with flour. Too much flour and the dough will take it in and get dried out. Just mash it down and then kind of fold it under itself to create a smooth skin. There. Then roll that between your hands just long enough to kind of create a ball and then move that to a straight sided, cylindrical vessel such as this clear [one]. Makes viewing easier. And the rubber band helps you to remember where the dough started before doubling. Into a warm spot [puts it in the oven]: 78 degrees would be ideal, for an hour or until the dough has indeed doubled in size.


Half Baked Bakery
208 Main Street

    [outside] One of the really groovy things about roll dough, is that it can be crafted into a wide array of shapes and sizes. These include, but are not limited to, pan loaves, spirals, twists, knots, cloverleaves, and butter flakes, which, of course, are cooked in muffin tins. And then, there is the naughty Parker House roll.
    [inside] Named for Boston's Parker House Hotel where it was invented in the late 19th century, this is the quintessential, American dinner roll, easily recognized by it's folded top which conceals a little pat of butter, hence the "naughty". Now I especially enjoy Parker House rolls around Halloween, because it can be used to complete your Angelina Jolie getup [puts it in his mouth implying big lips], or your incredible Mr. Limpet look. [turns it over to indicate fish lips] Remember Mr. Limpet? You ... Man, I feel old.

Parker House Rolls are sometimes called pocketbook
rolls due to their purse-like appearance.

The Kitchen

    Alright, let's see what we got here. [opens oven door and a bunch of the yeasts fall out] Hey, I guess they weren't dead after all. Huh. Oh, well. I'll just leave them here, I guess, and then ... [tries to close oven door but yeasts get in the way] Well ... get in the ... oh bother. There. [yeasts are now appearing everywhere like Star Trek's tribbles]

    Well clearly, we have made it through, "I HAVE IMAGINED SEEING A DEMENTED" as clearly the dough has doubled.


    It's now time for RABID, that is redistribute. [removes dough from container, lightly dusts counter with flour] A lot of Straight Dough procedures refer to this as "punching down" the dough. Number one, I don't think that's a fair explanation of what's going on, and number two, we all know that food doesn't like violence. [flattens out to about 2 handwidths and then rolls up lengthwise] There. Redistribution is complete.


    We now move to "PLATYPUS". Time for platypus which, of course, stands for 'portion'. [rolls out, like a snake, to about double the previous width] Now, use your trusty dough blade or bench scraper, which ever you prefer to call it, and bifurcate the log. And continue bifurcating until you've reached the magic number of sixteen.


    Okay, now we're done with portioning, which is 'platypus', and now we move to "CARELESSLY" which is for configure. Now the configuration is actually a two-phased process. First, we're going to create balls, dough balls. And we need a smooth exterior, okay? So press down each piece into a disk, and then fold in on itself. And then kind of make an "okay" sign with the fingers of one hand and push the ball through with the other. And just pinch the bottom. Place seam-side down on the counter, and then roll with an open hand like that, just to kind of tighten that skin up a bit.


    Okay, now the Parker House part. Take each of these little balls and we're going to roll into a three-inch circle, or an oval, would be fine, as well. Now you could use a full sized rolling pin for the chore, but I find that a small 7/8ths inch dowel does the trick even better. Just roll it out. And yes, I do suggest you measure each one.

    There. Now take your dowel or the side of your hand and press down making a dent, either right in the middle or just off to the side a little. It's completely a personal preference. But, I like it right in the middle. And then place one small pat of butter—little bitty kind of nugget—right here. Fold over and lightly seal like that. And I like to put these back onto the pan with the crimp side down. 1 Small Pat Butter
    Next, we hit them with a little butter, liberally, in fact. Now the butter, besides tasting great, will also help to keep the plastic wrap from sticking during the process. [places plastic wrap over the entire sheet pan] How long will this take? Well, it depends on room temperature. But I would expect 30 to 40 minutes for the rolls to actually double once again. And that is our goal. 1 Ounce Melted Butter
    [at the oven] When you are about 15 minutes out, set your oven for 400 degrees and put a rack in the middle.

400 Degrees

    [at the counter, several yeasts are everywhere] Ah, these things are starting to creep me out.

    Alright, the rolls have obviously doubled in volume.


    Alright, into the oven. These are probably going to take ten minutes, but I would start checking at eight. And if your oven has any uneven behavior in it's history, spin the pan halfway through the process.


    [later] These look fantastic. But ultimately, doneness can only be determined by your thermometer: 200 degrees. We are good to go.

    Although rolls are indeed served warm, I still believe in allowing them time for a post bake cure, okay? That is, of course, the COCKTAIL part of the saying. During this time, the starches will begin to firm up and excess moisture will steam out. The process is actually a preamble to staling. But with this much fat and, of course, sugar, staling will take place very, very slowly, indeed.


    [at the dinner table in Scene 1] Serve in a basket swaddled in a clean linen serviette or tea towel to prevent condensation while preserving warmth. You know, I think old Harvey Parker would be darned proud.

AB: [to Mannequins] Roll? No? Roll? Roll? Nobody? Nobody? Fine.

    You know, when I was a kid, I had an aunt who made butter flake rolls which, I think, are even easier to "configure". So, let's consider the very same dough after the first doubling.

    Instead of rolling and portioning, you would roll out into a 12 by 12 inch square. That's close enough. This you would liberally lube with about a tablespoon of butter. 1 Tbs. Butter
    Then get your favorite pizza cutter ... [removing yeast from drawer] I can't believe these things. ... and split that dough right down the middle. Then each of those halves you will cut into thirds and then each of those in half until you have 12 equal strips or close to equal. Stack these into two stacks. That's six pieces for each stack. Try not to stretch them. Then lay those over on their side, squeeze slightly together, and then cut into two-inch chunks with your pizza cutter.


    These you'll move directly to the cups of a lightly lubed muffin tin, just like that. Don't push down. Cover with plastic. and again, bench rest for about half an hour or until doubled in volume.


    [at the oven] Bake in a 400 degree oven, again, for eight to ten minutes, or until an internal temperature of 200 degrees is attained.

400 Degrees


    Cure briefly, and then server to a grateful world.


AB: [again at the table, little yeasts are everywhere] Roll? Roll? Anyone? Roll? No? Fine.

    All this wonderment made possible by a simple phrase, "I have imagined seeing a demented rabid platypus carelessly drinking blue cocktails." And that's a fact.

Raw rolls stuck together in a pan and baked are called monkey bread.

The Kitchen

GUESTS: Firemen
              Sid Maxberg

    The place, Avon, Florida. The time, 1949. A baker by the name of Joseph Gregor had just parked a pan of Parker House rolls into the oven when the town fire alarm sounded ...

FIREMEN: [alarm goes off and firemen walk across screen]

    Being a member of the volunteer fire brigade, Gregor had no choice but to pull and abandon his still pasty rolls. Upon their sooty return some hours later, Gregor decided to go ahead and bake the rolls once again. The results? Delicious enough that his Pop-In-Oven rolls were eventually purchased by General Mills for a big bucket of money. Well, our Brown-N-Serve Parker House Rolls are just as good.
    Here, we have a pan of our Parker House rolls. They've been buttered, they're doubled and ready to bake. Now the butter is especially important here, okay? Because when the rolls that'll go into storage [?] later on, it'll provide a seal against both oxidation and moisture loss. So don't get skimpy with the butter.

    Now, into the oven. But this time, we're going to make it 275 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes or until the outside of the rolls just begins to set.

275 Degrees


    [later] At this point, the internal temperature of the rolls would be about 185 degrees and the exterior will be rather pallid, due to the fact that the external temperature has not yet reached the browning stage. So at this point, remove and cool on the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. And then remove from the pan and cool directly on the rack until they're at room temperature. It'll be about 30 to 40 minutes, in which time I'll clean up the rest of these darn yeasts.
    When the rolls are cool, you can bag 'em, tag 'em, and freeze them for, well, up to at least three months.

    To finish, thaw for 60 to 90 minutes, and then park into a 400 degree for 10 to 12 minutes, until they are deeply brown and golden and beautiful and buttery, soft, delicious and yeasty.

400 Degrees

    [back at the dinner table, yeasts are now everywhere and AB is dismayed] Well, I certainly hope that we've inspired you to bring back a little of the dinner table culture that made America great. If there ... [phone rings] Excuse me. I'm sorry. Excuse me. Pardon me.

AB: [on phone] Hello?
SID MAXBERG: AB, baby. DJ Sid here ... Sid ... Sid Maxberg, agent to the food stars. Uh, listen, amigo, word is out on the street that you're suffering from a serious yeast problem.
YSP: [pokes up behind Sid's back]
AB: That is outrageous. Who told you that?
SM: Well, you know how this town talks. [laughing] I may just have a solution for you, but it's going to cost you.
YSP: [one comes into view with money in its mouth]
SM: Oh, yes, it's going to cost you!
AB: No, no, no, no, no, no, no. No way. I do not have a yeast problem. My new yeast are working fine. They are working out just great ... [a whole bunch fall onto AB's head]

    See you next time on Good Eats.

Transcribed by Michael Menninger
Proofread by Michael Roberts

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Last Edited on 12/19/2011