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COOKING WITH GALA

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WHOLE WHEAT DATE ROLLS 

2 3/4 cups warm water (105F to 115F)
2 tablespoons light molasses
1 tablespoon dry yeast 
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon salt
6 cups (about) plus 1/3 cup unbleached all purpose flour
light oil
1 pound pitted dates, chopped
1 large egg beaten to blend with 1 tablespoon water (for glaze) 

Whisk warm water and molasses in a bowl to blend, sprinkle yeast over, and let stand until foamy, about 6 minutes. 

Whisk whole wheat flour and salt into yeast mixture, then whisk in 1 cup unbleached flour. Using flexible rubber spatula, stir in 4 cups unbleached flour, mix in enough unbleached flour by 1/4 cupfuls to form sticky dough. Turn dough out onto floured work surface, knead (about 8 minutes) until smooth and only slightly sticky, adding more flour if very sticky. Coat inside of another large bowl with oil, add dough and turn dough to coat, cover with plastic and let rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume (about 1.25 hours). Punch down dough, shape into ball, cover with plastic and let rise again in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume (about 1 hour). 

Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Toss dates with 1/3 cup unbleached flour in medium bowl to coat, scatter over dough and knead to distribute dates evenly. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces, and each piece into 6 equal pieces. Using floured hands, shape each dough piece into small ball, transfer balls to prepared baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart, cover with kitchen towels and let rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume (about 45 minutes). 

Position racks in bottom and top third of oven and preheat to 400F. Brush tops of rolls with egg glaze, then bake until rolls sound hollow when tapped on bottom (about 20 minutes), change sheet placement at 10 minutes . Transfer rolls to racks, cool completely. Makes 24.