1 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
⅓ - ½ c. cool water, to make a stiff dough ball
Pinch of instant yeast
All of the starter
2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1¼ tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. nonfat dry milk
2 tsp. instant yeast
⅔ c. lukewarm water
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large egg white beaten
1 Tbsp. cold water
½ c. sesame seeds
To make the starter: Mix the starter ingredients together, cover, and let rest at room temperature overnight. Note: This is a dry, stiff starter. If it's too dry to come together, it may be that you measure your flour differently, or that you're in a particularly dry climate. Dribble in sufficient water to make the dough come together, and proceed with the recipe as directed.
To make the dough: Combine the starter with the remaining dough ingredients, and mix and knead — by hand, mixer, or bread machine set on the dough cycle — to make a soft, smooth dough. This will take about 7 minutes at medium speed in a stand mixer equipped with a dough hook… Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl or large (8-cup) measure; cover, and let it rise for about 90 minutes, till it's just about doubled in bulk.
To make the rolls: Gently deflate the dough, and divide it into six equal pieces; then, divide those six pieces into 3 equal portions. Shape each portion into a rough log, and let the logs rest, covered with a towel, for about 10 minutes. This gives the gluten in the dough a chance to relax, which in turn will make the logs easier to roll. Or so I've read... Working on a lightly greased surface, take three of the logs and roll each into a thin rope. Grab one end of each rope, and squeeze the ends together firmly. Braid the ropes, tucking the ends under to make a neat braided loaf. Repeat with the remaining logs. The resulting loaves will be about 6" long.
Place the rolls on a large, parchment-lined (or lightly greased) baking sheet, spacing them approximately 2” apart. Cover the rolls with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow to rise until very puffy, about 90 minutes. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F. Brush each roll with the egg white/water, and sprinkle heavily with the sesame seeds, rolling the tops of the rolls gently in the seeds to pick up as many as possible. Bake the rolls for about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, and cool on a rack. Yield: 6 rolls