No bread is an island

...entire of itself. (With apologies to John Donne!)
I live and breathe breadmaking. I’m an evangelist who would like everyone to make his or her own bread. I want to demystify breadmaking and show it as the easy everyday craft that it is. To this end I endeavour to make my recipes as simple and as foolproof as I possibly can.

I call my blog 'No bread is an island' because every bread is connected to another bread. So a spicy fruit bun with a cross on top is a hot cross bun. This fruit dough will also make a fruit loaf - or Chelsea buns or a Swedish tea ring...
I'm also a vegan, so I have lots of vegan recipes on here - and I'm adding more all the time.

Monday, 24 October 2011

White rolls using the undercover (cloche) method

My wife has never been a great fan of my bread, but after making a variety of bread rolls for a birthday party, she agreed to let me have another go at making some for her.

I used the 'several short kneads over a period' technique, coupled with the undercover method.

600g strong white flour
1 teaspoon salt
375g lukewarm water
8g fresh yeast (or 5g dried yeast)
2 tablespoons olive oil

1. Place the dry ingredients into a bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water and add to the bowl along with the olive oil. Mix into a sticky dough - if it's not sticky add another 10-15g or more of water to make it so - and knead for 10-20 seconds.

2. Scrape off  as much dough as you can off your fingers, then dip your hands in a little flour and rub off as much of the dough sticking to your hands as you can before you wash them. Invert the bowl over your dough and leave for 10-20 minutes.

3. Knead it again for a short period and leave it as before.

4. Knead for a third time - and this time you should notice that the dough is less and less sticky. Once again leave it for a bit.

5. When you're happy with the dough, leave it - covered - for at least an hour if you can.

6. When you're ready to proceed, divide the dough into 8 pieces (if you want to finish with 100g rolls) or 10 pieces (if you'd prefer 80g rolls) and shape them into rolls.

7. Give yourself plenty of room then take one of the pieces in each hand and flatten them down with the palms of your (flat) hand. Keeping them pressed down, gently move them round in a circle. After a couple of circles, start to ease the pressure off. Still moving in circles, let your hands form a hollow shape. Gradually cup your hands and relax the pressure, whilst still making the circular movement. Your little finger and thumb should make contact in turn with the side of the roll as it tightens up. Ease off the pressure altogether, and you should have a couple of bun shapes! 

Undercover method: 
8. Place the rolls on a piece of baking parchment so that they are just touching. Place the paper on a baking tray and cover with a roasting dish. Leave until the rolls are roughly doubled in size* then bake at 220C for 20 minutes before removing the roasting dish. Continue baking until the top of the rolls are browned sufficiently - say 10 to 15 minutes.

8. Otherwise, just cover the rolls with a dry tea-towel and leave to prove until well-risen. Bake at 220C for about 15 minutes.

9. Leave to cool on a baking tray.

*To see how big your rolls will grow, at stage 7, take two of the pieces of dough and form it into a roll - that's doubled in size!

If you want to make fancy dinner rolls, here are some shapes to start you off.

1050g of dough weighed off at 125g per roll and covered with a roasting dish, both when proving...
...and for the first 20 minutes of baking - at 220C in the middle of the oven. The bread completely filled the roasting dish
The crumb. It's beautifully soft and light - I haven't been able to stop  nibbling it (and I don't generally eat white bread.)

Must have done something right, my wife has asked for some more of these rolls! 

This time I increased the amounts - 700g white flour, 475g water, 10g yeast, 1 tsp salt and 25g olive oil - to give me ten rolls instead of 8.

I kneaded the dough 4 times in total - each time it was less sticky than before - then left it for about an hour and a half.

Shaped the rolls, covered them with the roasting tray and put the oven on. When the oven was up to temperature, I put the bread in for two minutes to give it a blast of heat - left it for five minutes, gave it another 2 minutes in the oven, left it for 5 minutes then put it in the oven for 20 minutes with the cover on and 10 minutes without a cover.*

I've since experimented with less time undercover in the oven, and now I only leave the rolls undercover for 10 minutes. You need to find the times that work for you and your oven.

*This is the method I use when I'm in a hurry to bake the bread. If I've plenty of time I'll leave the shaped rolls - under the roasting tray - on the worktop to rise by themselves as normal, before baking.


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  2. Thank you for your blog! I can see I can learn a few things here. I've tried to make Scottish rolls a few times and they taste good but look more like small "cow pats" than rolls!

  3. Thanks for stopping by, Geo. I'm always learning myself, so if I can help others to learn, that makes me happy!

    If your dough is too wet, it will spread out and not rise. If you feel it is too wet next time, knead it for around 20 seconds, then leave it for ten minutes (invert the bowl over the dough to protect it) - knead it again for 20 seconds, then leave it for ten minutes. Every time you come back to the dough it gets dryer, until then, you judge it's OK to shape into rolls.

    If it is still too wet, then you need to add more flour - but remember the next time you make a dough and reduce the liquid amount a little.

    BW, Paul