I love bread almost as much as pasta but recently I’ve been eating less because I would rather eat no bread than bad bread. For me the only place for a Chorleywood white sliced is in a fish finger sandwich or a chip butty when all culinary snobbery is abandoned in any case.
But life is busy and there is not always the time to make bread from scratch. Admittedly I often resort to a bag of cobs from Bird’s when the children need a packed lunch.
When I do have the time I like to make these simple bread rolls. They are easy to make but they do take time to knead, rise and bake so you need to be in the house for a day to oversee the process. It’s a nice thing to do with the children at the weekend when it’s freezing cold and rainy.
The original recipe came from the Hairy Bikers via the BBC website. By coincidence, I was in the middle of writing this post when it featured on the BBC online front page under the title ‘12 easy recipes for baking better bread‘. I can vouch for the recipe being pretty foolproof (I’ve been using it for years) although careful comparison (which I’m sure you’re all far too busy to be bothered with) will reveal some alterations by me.
Basic bread rolls (or cobs if you’re from Nottingham)
Makes 8 rolls
- 500g of strong white bread flour
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 2 teaspoons of dried yeast (I use Allinson’s Easy Bake Yeast – in a green tin)
- 30g butter, softened
- 75ml milk
- 225ml warm water
- Semolina, for dusting
Measure the flour into a large mixing bowl.
Then add the butter and rub this into the flour with your fingers until it is completely mixed in (there should be no large lumps of butter left).
Now add the yeast and salt and mix lightly with your hands.
Mix the milk with the warm water and add this to the bowl.
Mix everything together with your hands until it comes together into a rough dough.
Tip the dough onto a clean work surface and knead for at least 10 minutes until elastic and smooth. Although it’s tempting, don’t cheat with this bit or you will have very dense rolls.
Return the dough to the bowl and cover with a tea towel or cling film. Set aside for 1 ½ -3 hours until the dough has doubled in size. It is hard to give an exact time here because it will depend on the temperature of your room and other inexplicable factors like the age of your yeast and brand of your flour.
When the dough has risen, return it to a floured work surface and knock it back by kneading it on the work surface for around 30 seconds.
Separate the mixture into eight parts and roll each into a ball. Flatten each slightly with your hand and transfer the rolls to a baking tray dusted with semolina. Cover the tray with a tea towel and set aside for another hour, or until the rolls have doubled in size again.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 230 degrees C.
When the rolls have expanded, dust them with flour or semolina and transfer them to the oven. I like to slash the tops once with a sharp knife.
Bake for 15 – 20 mins, or until golden-brown and cooked through. A hollow tap on the bottom of a roll is a sign that they are done.
Leave to cool for at least 30 minutes. These rolls are best served warm but not hot.