As it turns out, I’m afraid of yeast. Seriously, I’m not kidding – there is just way too much to worry about. Is the water warm enough for the yeast? Will the yeast bubble?? Will the dough rise? Am I kneading the dough for long enough? Will the dough rise again?? Too much pressure, I tell you. Too much left to chance. I simply do not use yeast…I’m too afraid.
But I had these rolls called mallorcas in Puerto Rico. They were rich pillowy buttery croissant-like rolls, split open and filled with butter and guava or cherry jam (or ham and cheese for the most traditional version, but c’mon, really…let’s go with the jam), grilled and then doused with powdered sugar. They were literally oozing with buttery goodness.
The thought of never eating a mallorca again deeply, deeply depressed me, and I realized that the only way I could experience this joy again was if I made mallorcas at home. I considered lifting my ban on yeast. I searched for the most simple recipe for mallorcas. All the steps seemed easy enough, but I held my breath the entire time. (A full two hours of holding my breath.) But – at the end – they were just like the ones I ate in San Juan! Soft, buttery, warm, delicious. Bring it on, yeast. I’m ready for you.
Pan de Mallorca (original recipe here)
Like I said, the most traditional versions are filled with ham and cheese, grilled and dusted with powdered sugar. A sweet and savory pastry of sorts. For my fellow vegetarians, I even saw egg and cheese versions on San Juan menus, which I was tempted to try. But for those true to my heart, my fellow sweet-teethed people, stick to the jam.
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup milk
2-1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
flour for dusting work surface
butter to grease bowl and pan
confectioners’ sugar for dusting
1. Melt the butter and let it cool slightly. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water. Add the sugar, salt, egg yolks, milk, 4 tablespoons of the cooled butter, and 2-1/2 cups of the flour. Mix well.
2. Lightly flour a work surface. Turn out the dough and knead for 5 minutes. Add enough of the remaining flour so that the dough is not sticky.
3. Grease a bowl with butter. Pour the dough in it and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.
4. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan. Set aside. Punch the dough down. Knead it on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 18×9 inches. Brush with the remaining melted butter. Roll up the dough from one short end and cut it into 9 slices; trim the ends to make them neat. Arrange the slices in the baking pan. Cover and let rise for 40 minutes.
5. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Bake the rolls for 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let the rolls cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Transfer to a platter and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Alternatively, you can split the rolls open, spread butter and a jam of your choice on both sides, close and grill. After grilling, dust with powdered sugar.