Summer is finally coming around! What with the snow and the freezing temperatures, it was starting to feel like summer wouldn't make an appearance this year. But the clocks went back this weekend and the sun was out, so it was definitely time to make the most of it. What's a better way than with a long walk homemade soup and sandwiches on freshly baked bread?
I have to admit, bread is not my forte - although it is something I would like to know a bit more about. It's a science, right? So this recipe is more a way of heralding the marvel that is pre-prepared bread bases. These little packets of awesomeness contain the perfect amount of flour, salt, yeast and sugar (you know all the important bits) to crank out a single loaf of bread or a batch of rolls. Kneading, proving, knocking back were still integral to the process, so I still consider this baking (if a shortcut's good enough for Delia...)
Because I am indecisive, I made two batches - one white and one seeded. Due to the inclusion of wholemeal flour in the seeded rolls, there are some differences in proving and baking times, so read carefully!
You will need:
- 1 x packet crusty white bread mix (I used Tesco)
- 325ml warm water
Dump the mix into a bowl and create a well before pouring in the warm water. Ensure it is not too hot, as this will kill the yeast and prevent the reaction for the rise.
Mix, either with an electric mixer with the dough hook attached, or just get in there with your hands (definitely better). Mix until the dough starts to come together into a shaggy ball of dough.
When combined, turn it out on to a WELL FLOURED (don't learn the hard way!) surface and leave to rest for a good 5-10mins. Leaving it for this time allows for the water to be properly absorbed and for the the enzymes to start digesting the starch from the flour and turn it into sugar to feed the yeast.
Time to knead! Knead for two minutes, using the heel of your hand to push the dough away from you, fold it back on itself, turn and then repeat. If you are unsure, there are some nice little videos online. Leave the dough to rest again for five minutes and then shape as required.
Rolls were the order of the day because they're nice and robust for a good filling. It's best to be accurate with the rolls' weight so that they all cook evenly. With a dough scraper divide the ball of dough into 2, then 4, then 8 and shape into round domes with your hands. Best to roll between your palms first to get a sphere and then place on to the counter and rotate the ball so you achieve a nice flat bottom. If you want to be super precise, weigh each dough-ball.
Place the rolls onto a well oiled baking sheet and cover with a damp tea towel before leaving for 30/40mins in a warm place to prove.
Sprinkle the tops of the rolls with a little flour and bake for around 20mins in the oven at. 230ºC/Fan 210ºC/Gas Mark 8.
You will need:
- 1x packet of multiseed bread mix (again, I used Tesco)
- 25g cold-ish butter
- 320ml warm water
Start by placing the mix and the butter in a bowl. Rub the butter into the flour mix with your fingertips until you've a breadcrumb-like consistency.
Pour in the warm water and combine. Tip the mix out onto a floured surface and knead as before, but for at least 10 minutes this time. One of the reasons we need to knead (love a homophone, me) this bread for a little longer is due to the presence of wholewheat germ and the seeds somewhat inhibiting gluten development. It's important we build up a strong gluten network to support the rise of the final bake.
After kneading, place the smooth dough into a well oiled bowl and cover with clingfilm. Place in a warm place to prove for around 1.5hrs.
Knock back the dough by placing the dough onto a floured work surface and fold it in on itself using the heels of your hands until it is smooth and even. This process helps to create uniformity and gets rid of any big air bubbles.
Place back into the bowl and cover again. Prove for 20mins.
Shape into rolls as directed before.
Bake for 15minutes in a 230°C/Fan 210°C/Gas 8 oven until golden on the top and well risen. They should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom and should not be too heavy when picked up.
When the rolls are cooled you can make yourself some sandwiches, wrap them up in greaseproof paper and go off a'walking.
Matt and I headed up to the local marina and went to explore some of the beach and grasslands surrounding it before plonking down on a mound for our feast. It was still a little chilli, but we had the trusty vacuum flask filled with soup (recipe to come!) and the blanket to keep us cosy. Despite the wind, it was still sunny and I can feel that summery feeling start to edge in. Lots of people were out with their dogs, the evening drew out longer and the fields were all fresh and green.
Be back next week with more happy memories. Have a good one.