Monday, January 4, 2016

Bread rolls

This recipe for bread rolls is the result of years of practice and experience. I make a batch every week.  

This dough recipe can be used for making bread of lots of shapes and sizes, including in trays to yield loaves. I prefer rolls of the kind in the photo above, because after you have baked a large batch, as soon as they are cold, you can put them in the freezer in Ziploc bags. Then, when you need bread, just take out as many rolls as you need, and warm them in the microwave. If you warm them for just the right amount of time, they will be warm and delicious just like when they first came out of the oven. With my microwave, it takes about 45 seconds per roll to have them completely defrosted and warm but not dried out - you will need to figure out what the right amount of time is for your microwave, since they are all different.

I use Bakers Roses (formerly Five Roses) flour, which you can buy in bulk from international food stores. King Arthur brand bread flour also works well. The key is the high gluten content, which is essential to it rising and becoming light and fluffy. You can make them using only white flour if you prefer, but I like them better with some wholemeal flour added, as they are tastier and healthier. I also use fresh yeast, bought from bakeries, whenever possible, because the dough will rise faster than with dried yeast, not to mention that the taste is better. 

I also recommend using a stand mixer, since kneading by hand is very difficult and tiring. But I started out making bread by hand, and you can too - and like me, if you want to continue making bread, you can ask for a stand mixer for Christmas. 

5 cups of bread flour (1kg)
1 cup whole meal flour ( 200g)
2 1/3 cups of milk (375 ml)
1 spoonful of yogurt
1 spoonful sugar
1 spoonful salt
1/4 cup of vegetable oil (100 ml)
1 package (15g ) dry yeast or 1oz ( 25 g) fresh yeast

Where it says "spoonful" above, it refers to a standard soup spoon. 

Place 1 cup of lukewarm milk in the mixer bowl, and mix it with a spoonful of the bread flour. Add the yeast and mix it all together with a spoon for a few seconds, until smooth. Leave it in a warm (but not hot) place for 10-15 minutes or until it is frothy. 

Then add the rest of the lukewarm milk, bread flour, whole meal flour, salt, sugar and yogurt. Place the bowl on the stand and turn it on the first speed for a few minutes untill all the ingredients are wet. The dough should look hard and thick; if it is a little runny, add more flour. Lastly, add the lukewarm vegetable oil and turn the mixer up to the second speed for 10 minutes. The dough should look shiny and elastic. If it is sticky add a little more flour and keep mixing it for a few more minutes.

Then place the bowl in the same warm place, covering the top of the bowl with a slightly damp paper towel, and let it rise for an hour. The volume of the dough should double. See the picture below.

Tear off a big piece of dough and place it on the floured surface as you see in this photo below.

Make round balls of 4 oz in weight (100 g). You only need to weigh the first one, and then you can simply make the rest of them the same size. It is important to make them round by kneading them again with your fingers, bringing the dough from the margins of the roll towards the center as shown below. Roll them again through flour.

Place them on a baking sheet or tray that has been greased with butter beforehand. They should be about 1" apart so that they have room to grow. Leave them to rise again until the size of the balls of dough is doubled. This usually takes 1 1/2 to 2 hours. 


Bake them at 375° F (185° C) for 30 minutes if you want the crust darker and crunchier. Otherwise bake them at 350° F for 35 minutes for softer rolls. 

Take them from the baking tray immediately, separating the rolls from one another, and place them on a cooling rack, to avoid having them become soggy as a result of the evaporating moisture. Once they are cool enough to eat, you can enjoy them! 

There is a photo of the finished product at the top of the post, including one roll torn in half so you can see how it looks on the inside. Feel free to experiment - if for your tastes you would like the bread to be slightly lighter or denser, you can try using a little bit less or more flour until the result is just the way you want it. 

One last bit of advice: don't neglect to work on these in a warm place. Light, fluffy bread depends not just on high-gluten flour and good yeast, but also the temperature that facilitates it rising.

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