Basic yeasted white bread rolls

This recipe makes lovely bread rolls. I have adapted it from the plain white bread recipe in Delia Smith’s Complete Illustrated Cookery Course, which makes two loaves of bread. The rolls freeze and defrost well, so you can make a batch and have them ready to go for days when you are pressed for time or baking isn’t an option.

If you make sourdough / naturally leavened bread, this recipe is also a good way to use up some of your discard from feeding your starter.

Ingredients

  • 425ml hand-hot water (a mixture of half boiling and half cold water should give the right temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 2 level teaspoons easy-blend / dried yeast (you can use also 7g fresh yeast instead of dried)
  • 700g strong white bread flour, warmed slightly
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • A little oil

If using discard:

Substitute 50g of flour and 50ml of water for 100g discard. You will therefore need to use 375ml hand-hot water and 650g strong white bread flour.

Method:

Step 1: Pour 150ml of the hand-hot water into a jug, then with a fork whisk in the sugar, followed by the dried yeast.

Step 2: Sift the flour into a bowl. The flour should be at room temperature – if it feels a little chilly, you can warm it in a low oven for a few minutes.

Step 3: Add the salt to the flour. Make a well into the centre of the flour, then pour in the yeast and the remaining warm water. If using discard, add 100g to the mixture at this stage.

Base ingredients for the dough – yeast mixed with water, the rest of the hand-hot water, flour and salt (in my case I have added 100g starter discard)

Step 4: Mix to a dough, starting off with a wooden spoon and using your hands in the final stages of mixing.

Mixing the dough in the bowl

Step 5: Wipe the bowl clean with the dough – scraping off any dry bits with the wooden spoon – and transfer it to a flat work surface (there shouldn’t be any need to flour this). Knead the dough for 10 minutes or until it develops a sheen and blisters under the surface. The dough should be springy and elastic.

Post kneading

Step 6: Return the dough to the bowl and cover it with a beeswax wrap / cling film (so that a skin doesn’t form) and a tea towel / blanket (to retain warmth).

Leave it in a warm place until it looks as though it has doubled in bulk. The season, humidity and temperature within your house will influence how quickly the dough rises. In summer I find that this dough rises in 1 ½ – 2 hours at room temperature or 45 – 60 minutes in a warm place (e.g. direct sunlight). Because this morning was a little cold and autumnal, it took ~4 hours to double in size.

Dough after the first rise (~4 hours)

Step 7: Once it’s ready, tip the dough out of the bowl onto the surface (using your fingers to loosen the dough from the side of the bowl), knock the air out and knead again for 5 minutes. The purpose of this is to promote an even crumb throughout the dough.

The dough after a second knead

Step 8: Put an empty bowl onto your scales and zero them. Pop your dough into the bowl to find out the weight. Divide the total weight of the dough by the number of rolls you want to make (personally I find between 90 – 100g is a good size). Put the dough back onto the kitchen counter, and use a bench / dough knife to cut off segments of the dough, weighing each segment as you go to make sure your rolls will be even in size.

Step 9a: To shape the bread rolls, I find it helpful to lightly grease the surface you are working on with a little bit of oil – that way the dough won’t stick.

Step 9b: Working with each segment of dough at a time, pull the edges into the centre and form a little tuck. This will be the underside of your bread roll. Use the palms of your hands to shape the outside circumference of the bread into little rounds.

Step 9c: Turn the roll over, then place onto the greased baking tray. Leave some space between each roll, as they will expand again during the second prove.

Shaping – the underside of one of the bread rolls
Shaping – the upper side of the bread roll. The dough is quite compact at this stage – but the rolls will relax and expand in the next step

Step 10: Place each tray in a well-oiled see-through polythene bag until the rolls have expanded in size (30 minutes in a warm place or an hour at room temperature). Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 8, 450°F (230°C or 210°C fan).

Step 11: When the rolls have risen, dust them with a little flour using a sieve.

Rolls post rise, ready to be lightly dusted with flour and baked in the oven

Step 12: Bake the rolls for 15 – 20 minutes until lightly golden. Keep an eye on them in the oven and rotate / swap over the trays between racks as needed, depending on whether you have hot spots in your oven. When they are done, the rolls will have a pale brown colour underneath and sound hollow when you tap their bases.

Step 13: Cool on a wire rack (otherwise on a flat surface the steam will be trapped and the crust will become soggy) before eating or freezing.

The finished result – a baker’s dozen
The finished result – the inside of one of the rolls

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