After watching this week's episode of The Great British Bake Off (which I am seriously addicted to already by the way!), I suddenly developed an urge to make bread. I wasn't particularly fussed which sort to be honest, I just knew I wanted to make some. Mainly because I was salivating at the thought of being drawn into the kitchen by the smell of fresh bread cooking away in the oven and being able to eat it afterwards. You just can't beat fresh bread straight from the oven spread with a layer of butter that melts the moment it touches the bread. I should know, having lived across the road from a boulangerie for a year where I could pick up a baguette that was sometimes still warm virtually whenever I wanted to. In hindsight, I was probably a bit spoilt and I wish I hadn't taken it for granted so much, because living in England (or where I live anyway) it is near-on impossible to pick up a loaf as fresh as that. Well certainly not within walking distance.
But the thing is, making bread at home, especially if you just want to make a basic loaf or roll, is ridiculously easy. I don't understand why more people don't do it! Plus, you will not be able to get bread any fresher, as you literally have to travel to your kitchen to pick it up. On top of that, it hardly needs any ingredients: flour, water, yeast, salt, a bit of sugar and you're there. So if you ever hear anything about the struggles of making bread, dismiss them straight away!
I suppose the only slight downside of making bread is that it can be a bit fiddly and time-consuming, what with all the kneading and proving, but it's really not that horrendous! These rolls I made only needed kneading (!) for ten minutes, which is nothing really. And just think of all those calories you're burning while your arms are hard at work. As for the proving, these proved for just over an hour, and as long as you know right from the start that they've got to rest for that long, then you can get on with something else whilst they're busy doubling in size.
And that's basically all there is to it. Bread really can be that simple to make. It's certainly a staple part of my diet, because when I think about it I probably eat some type of bread pretty much every day. So why not learn how to make it for yourself, then it can be there whenever you want it, fresher than bread from a bakery! I came across this particular recipe in Lorraine Pascale's recipe book, Home Cooking Made Easy, although I changed the white bread flour to brown. She names them after her Home Economics teacher, because that's when she first made them, and in actual fact, as I was making these, I was transported back to my Food Technology room at school when I made bread for the first time. I remember being given the option of creating whatever shape we wanted, but my favourites have to be the twists with two strands. Although it doesn't really matter what shape you form them into, because they taste delicious whether they're a round roll or a spiral. As long as they're hollow on the bottom, golden on top and soft on the inside you've made a pretty decent bread roll that is just asking to be eaten!
Brown Bread Rolls makes 12 mini rolls
280g Strong Brown Bread Flour
11/2tsp Fast-action Dried Yeast
1tsp Soft Light Brown Sugar
190ml Warm Water
1 Egg, lightly beaten
3tbsp Poppy Seeds
- Put the flour, salt, yeast and sugar in a bowl.
- Make a well in the centre and pour in the water.
- Use a wooden spoon to stir it all together and once it starts getting stiff, replace the spoon with hands and bring it altogether into a ball.
- If it's too stiff, add a couple more teaspoons of water.
- Knead for ten minutes.
- Weigh it and divide the number by 12 to create 12 rolls of an even size.
- Roll each one into a ball or a shape of your choice.
- Place the rolls on a large baking tray and cover with oiled cling film so it's airtight but not taut.
- Leave the rolls in a warm place for about an hour or until they have doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
- Brush the rolls with the beaten egg and sprinkle with poppy seeds.
- To create a steamy atmosphere in the oven, either spray a few squirts of water inside or place a bowl of water on the bottom shelf.
- Place the rolls in the oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes, until they are golden brown and sound hollow when they are tapped on the bottom.
- Enjoy (preferably with a good layer of butter straight from the oven!).