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.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

120 bread rolls for a birthday party

I've been asked by a long-ago acquaintance to make 120 bread rolls for a party next Saturday.

This would have been dead easy had I still got access to my friend's bakery, but, alas, that was long ago.

I should have said, "No, I don't make bread any more, I only teach these days," but - I like making bread, and I thought it was doable.

We agreed that I would deliver in two lots, Wednesday and Saturday - 60 white, 40 wholemeal and 20 granary. 100g rolls (before baking) - I figured I would make them in batches of 20.

I thought I'd get ahead of myself and bake a batch today which I could put in the freezer overnight.

Accordingly, after lunch I began - and because I had plenty of time I thought I'd use method B from this recipe:

1200g white bread flour
12g salt
840g liquid, including 10g of fresh yeast
50g olive oil

I mixed this together and found it extremely wet. I realised I'd only ever used wholemeal flour in these amounts before, and, of course, wholemeal requires more water than white.

So, while I was kneading for short periods every ten or so minutes, I began adding flour to get the manageable dough I was looking for.

Unbelievably I'd added an extra 250g of flour before I finished!

This gave me a dough weighing in at 2350g - giving me 24 rolls in total.

I left the dough, covered by the upturned bowl, until after dinner when I set about shaping the rolls. (I had to keep knocking the dough back, since it kept trying to creep out from under the bowl.)

Four hours after I started, I began shaping some fancy dinner rolls. It took me about a minute a roll - clearly I wouldn't be able to make all the rolls this way, there just wouldn't be time.

By the time I'd shaped the last one, the first rolls were beginning to rise, so I put the oven on to heat up while I brushed the rolls with water and sprinkled seeds - poppy and sesame - on top.

Sprinkled with poppy seeds

And with sesame seeds

I baked them one tray at a time for about 20 minutes, turning them round in the oven after 10.

The finished article:
Poppy seeds at the top, sesame seeds at the bottom

I really enjoyed making these - but with the next 100 or so I'll be much more up against the clock, I reckon! And next time, I'll use much less water.

Day 2:

Made a white batch (1200g flour to 750g water) and a wholemeal batch (1200g to 840g) this afternoon. Both were sticky doughs which I kneaded at intervals.

I left them for an hour, then shaped them. Some of the wholemeal rolls were baked under the roasting tray and some were baked normally. You might be able to see the difference in size, which, in real life is substantial. I had more time with the last tray of white, so I did some more fancy dinner rolls, but mostly the rolls were plain.

The 'undercover' rolls, on the right, came up much bigger than the ones on the left, baked normally.

You've got to admit - I'm having fun!
I delivered the first 3 batches tonight - the recipient was very pleased. I'll finish the order off on Saturday, so the rest will be fresh for the party.

For the last 60 rolls, I was asked to make a few smaller ones, so I reduced the amount of each batch to roughly 1.7kg -1kg of flour to 700g of water for wholemeal, 650g water for white and 625g for granary – with 50g of olive oil in each batch.

I divided each dough into two unequal pieces – 1kg and 700g – and then divided each piece into ten, giving me 10 rolls at 100g and 10 rolls at 70g.

After shaping the rolls I brushed some of them with water and sprinkled them with sesame, poppy and sunflower seeds

It was a 60th birthday party, and the birthday girl said she'd have me back again to make some rolls for her 70th!

I did enjoy making these - but I don't think I'd bother doing it again. Teaching pays better! (and I'll be in my 80s in 10 yrs time!)


  1. They look really great Paul.

  2. Thanks, Snowy!

    I'm enjoying it, but I probably won't do it again! Teaching's much easier!