For my birthday this year, I received The Great British Bake Off Learn to Bake as a present from my family, possibly in an attempt to persuade me to start learning to cook. I took the book on holiday with me to see if I could try a few of the recipes out. The one that jumped out at me to be the first to try to bake was this bread roll recipe, which needs nothing but flour, salt, yeast and water to make. It took me the majority of a morning (with breaks inbetween while waiting for the dough to expand), however, so this is probably something that would be better to make on weekends when more time is available.
Ingredients500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for sprinkling
1 teaspoon salt
1 x 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
- Gently warm 300ml water until it is lukewarm. Put the flour, salt and yeast into the mixing bowl and mix with your hands.
- Pour in the lukewarm water. Press and squeeze everything together to make a soft but not sticky dough. If the dough feels sticky, and sticks to the sides of the bowl, sprinkle over more flour a tablespoon at a time and mix it in; if there are dry crumbs in the bottom of the bowl and the dough won’t stick together, sprinkle over more water a tablespoon at a time and mix in.
- Sprinkle the worktop and your hands with a little flour, then scoop out the dough. Now start to knead it using both hands – one to hold down one edge of the dough, and the other hand to stretch out the other end and then gather it all back into a ball again. Alternatively, a dough hook may be useful for if available.
- Turn the ball around and stretch the dough out again, then gather back into a ball and turn it around. Carry on kneading like this for 4 minutes – set the timer.
- Cover the dough with an upside-down bowl (so it doesn’t get dry and hard) and leave it for 10 minutes. Uncover the dough and knead for at least another 4 minutes. This time, the dough will feel much smoother and more stretchy.
- Put the ball of dough back into the bowl and cover the top with clingfilm so the dough keeps warm and moist while the yeast produces lots of tiny bubbles of air that will make the dough expand to double its original size (this is called "proving"). Leave it for about an hour during this process.
- Sprinkle the worktop and your hands with flour again, and scoop out the ball of dough. As you touch it, it will start to collapse – this is not a problem as you want to have millions of very small gas bubbles instead of a few bigger ones (this is called "knocking back").
- Divide the dough into 12 equal portions. You can do this by rolling it into a sausage, then cutting across into 12 equal slices with a tables knife. Or you can weigh the ball of dough, then divide it by 12 (this would be easy if using digital scales).
- Roll each piece into a neat ball in your hands (you could also make sausage shapes). Put them on the lined baking sheet, spacing them about 3cm apart.
- Cover the sheet loosely with clingfilm, then leave for about 45 minutes – they will expand again to double the size. Towards the end of this time, preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius / 425 degrees Fahrenheit / gas mark 7.
- Uncover the rolls and place in the heated oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Wearing oven gloves, remove the sheet from the oven and set it on a heatproof surface. Transfer the rolls to a wire rack and leave to cool. Store in a covered container in a cool spot. Best eaten the same day, or split in half and toasted the next day.