When my Mom passed away, I was given her box of recipes along with those of my Grandmother - both of them were amazing bakers and cooks. This was in them and they are truly amazing. I have no idea where the recipe comes from, but it's definitely worth baking up a batch! Don't let the amount of garlic throw you off.. they beautifully roast off the strong taste and bitterness to create a gorgeously scented roll.
1. Before you begin cooking anything, warm your oven to about 200 degrees, then shut off the oven. Leave the door closed. Prepare a large mixing bowl by spraying it lightly with PAM, or rub with oil.
2. Next, make the garlic butter. Mince about 10 average size cloves of fresh garlic. You'll want about 2-3 full TBS of minced garlic. In a sautee pan over medium low heat, melt 1 TBS of the butter and add 1 tsp of water. When butter is melted, add the garlic and stir continuously, coating the garlic with butter. Continue stirring and cooking for about 8-10 minutes or until the garlic takes on a straw coloring and the aroma is earthy. Add the remaining 5 TBS of butter and swirl to melt in pan. Allow this to cool for 10 minutes. Using a fine mesh strainer, pour the butter and the garlic solids through the strainer into a small bowl. Save the garlic solids to add to the dough. Set butter aside.
3. Now for the dough. Whisk remaining water, 1 tablespoon of the melted garlic butter, reserved garlic solids, and yeast in liquid measuring cup until yeast dissolves. Don't worry about proofing the yeast because it's instant. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook, mix flour and salt until combined. With mixer on low, add water/yeast mixture in steady stream and mix until dough comes together, about 1 minute. Scrape out all remaining bits of garlic. Increase speed to medium and knead until dough is smooth and comes away from sides of bowl, about 6 minutes. If you need to add more water, add it a tsp at a time until the dough is fully incorporated and no longer appears dry. Dough should be sticky to the touch and barely clean from the sides of the bowl. Turn dough onto clean work surface and knead briefly to form smooth, cohesive ball, about 4-5 minutes or until dough passes the window pane test. Transfer dough to prepared bowl and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and place in turned-off, barely warm oven until dough has doubled in size, 40 to 50 minutes.
4. SHAPE KNOTS - here's how! Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Punch down dough gently on a lightly floured surface. Roll dough into 12- by 6-inch rectangle and cut into twelve 6-inch strips. I found it easier to cut in half, cut each half into half and then cut each section into thirds. You should have 12 strips. With flat hands, roll each strip into 12-inch ropes. Tie the rope into a basic, single knot very loosely. Bring up one end and wrap it around and under the dough. Tuck in the tip and push it up through the middle so the tip is exposed. Take the other end and bring it OVER and tuck the end into the hole facing down. Place on prepared baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and return to turned-off oven until doubled in size, about 20 minutes.
5. Prepare oven for baking by removing knots from oven and discarding the plastic. Heat oven to 500 degrees. Bake until set, about 5 minutes. Remove knots from oven and brush each with about 2 tablespoons of the garlic butter. At this time, sprinkle with a bit of kosher flake salt and dried parmesan cheese if you wish. Rotate the pan and return to oven, and bake until golden, about 5-6 minutes more. As soon as rolls come out of the oven, brush knots with remaining garlic butter and cool 5 minutes in the pan. Use all the butter. Transfer to wire rack. Serve warm.
MAKE AHEAD Shaped knots can be refrigerated, covered, for 24 hours. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oven to 200 degrees and turn off. Put knots in turned-off oven until doubled in size, about 20 minutes. Proceed with step 5.