New Year Bread Rolls for Beginners

I welcomed in the New Year and almost immediately got stuck down with the most horrible lurgy which involved me being bedridden for a week and not going near the kitchen. I am now feeling much better so hauled myself into the kitchen to finally do something with the strong flour Joe bought instead of plain flour months ago and has been silently taunting me ever since.

When I was a cookery school we made bread rolls and the main thing I can remember (apart from discovering that I love kneading) was they seemed most concerned that your shapes were right rather than the taste of the bread. I got in trouble in one of my exams because I made bread rolls and thought for consistency I would make them all the same shape. WRONG they should all have been different shapes apparently. Who knew? Anyway, I thought I'd give these rolls a go last night as the recipe is pretty simple and I had all the ingredients in the cupboard already.

The result was ok... only ok but it did get me enthused about bread baking and so I think one of the things I'd like to do this year is get better at bread. I think the reason why they were only ok is because my oven doesn't go quite hot enough and well... I probably just need a bit more practise. I do think though that the smugness that you get from eating a home made bread roll still make these better than shop bought. I'm also split on using the egg wash - sometimes I think it looks a bit weird and sometimes I like it. I also no longer make fancy shapes. I make roll shapes and put a cross in the top.

WHITE BREAD ROLLS FOR BEGINNERS

Makes about 8

225g (8oz) strong white flour
1 level tsp salt
25g (1oz) butter
15g yeast
65ml (2.5 fl.oz) lukewarm milk
65ml (2.5 fl oz) lukewarm water

Now I know that people are scared of yeast and to be honest they do have reason to be (not like pastry which is actually not scary at all but people are AMAZED when you make your own). In this recipe as you'll see you use a bit of the milk and water to mix with the yeast to activate it. With some yeast that works, with the Allisons bread yeast I was using it didn't. Basically follow the instructions i.e. Allisons say dissolve 1tsp sugar in 150ml lukewarm water, sprinkle in the yeast leave to stand until the top is completely covered in froth (about 10 mins) whisk again and then carry on with your recipe so I did that and just topped up the liquid with a bit of lukewarm milk. I know that sounds confusing but it will make sense when you are doing it. Next time I may try using half and half milk and water to dissolve the sugar in for the yeast.

You'll need a big baking sheet or two smaller ones, a mixing bowl and a couple of tea towels.

1. Sift the flour and salt into a warm mixing bowl (I heat the oven to 50 and stick it in there for five mins while I'm measuring out the flour). Rub in the butter.

2. Blend the yeast with a little of the lukewarm milk and water - or as I've said obey the instructions on the packet and amend the amount of milk and water accordingly.

3. Mix to a soft dough. Place on a lightly floured work surface and knead well for approximately 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and will spring back and when lightly touched. If you don't know how to knead then watch a few kitchen based dramas - Larkrise to Candleford should help - it's like you see on the tele basically. I'm not sure if  you can over knead but I really like doing it and I do it in front of the tele so I tend to go for longer than 10 mins. 

Dough pre-prooving
4. Place the dough in a mixing bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to prove  in a warm place until doubled in size. Everyone says to do this in the airing cupboard. My airing cupboard is only hot when the hot water is on so I left it under the radiator in our bedroom which seemed to do the trick - it took about half an hour or so to double in size.

5. Knock back the dough, cut into 8 pieces or however many rolls you want. Shape and place on a greased baking sheet (I used the cheat reusable sheets). Prove in a warm place until doubled in size
Prooved Dough

6. Pre-heat the over to 230C/446F/Gas Mark 8. If you want to then glaze the top of the rolls with beaten egg... this is purely a looks thing so it's up to you. Bake on the centre shelf for approximately 10 minutes. To test if the rolls are cooked, tap the bottoms, they should sound hollow.

Prooved buns going into the oven
7. Cool on a wire rack. Eat with smugness.

I'm a bit of a heathen - microwave for 40 seconds and add more butter than is healthy.

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