Short and Sweet Challenge: Soft White Baps

“Short and Sweet” Soft White Baps

This was new territory for me, having never successfully made rolls, so I didn’t go into this on waves of confidence. I organised all of my ingredients on the worktop, grabbed my flour sifter, and then immediately winced and ducked as a metal fly-wheel, two springs and a circular disk of metal mesh flew by my left ear. This is the second flour sifter that’s fallen to bits on me this month, and we’re only midway into January.

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“You have my permission to bite me if I ever go anywhere near Poundland again, Molly.” She wagged her tail, so I assume she found this quite agreeable.

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So feeling even less confident than prior to the sifter debacle, I grabbed a sieve and began aerating the flour and cornflour. Then added the yeast and warm water. Stirred it up with my lovely Danish dough wisk that I bought with my birthday money last summer in Denmark, and then tossed a linen teatowel over my bowl. Voilà – one sponge made. Time to do laundry.

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Roughly 2.5-hours later, just looks at those gluten threads in the sponge. I added the warm milk and butter liquid to the sponge. It sat there, having no wish to chummy-up with the yeast sponge. It was like trying to rescue a split caramel sauce. The recipe instructed me to ‘beat the buttery liquid with the yeast sponge until combined’. I began to wonder at what point my dough whisk or wooden spoon should bow-out to my standmixer. Does beat mean a mixer using beaters? Does mix mean mix with a mixer? Does insanity mean baking? You know what I mean? All of this is rhetorical, of course. I endlessly question myself and what I’m doing.

But I had no question about what to do next: I threw the whole mess into my standmixer, turned it on and jumped back from the anticipated spray of buttery liquid. There was none of it. The two mixtures absorbed into each other like melting ice cream soaking into a fluffy beach towel. So while things were going so well, I tossed in the second lot of dry ingredients and let the mixer do the work for me.

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I had a little trouble forming the little ball-shaped rolls. I couldn’t make them round the way I wanted. I wanted to do it like Hugh or those adorable Baker Brothers. They cup their fingers around the dough and do a kind of centrifugal thingy that makes the dough into perfect round balls. I couldn’t do it. I finally did it between the palms of my hands.

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The rolls did a second rise beautifully, although I’m not sure for how long because I forgot to press the Start button my kitchen timer. I had to go check my last post on Twitter to Evidence Matters in order to figure out when I put the rolls in the oven.

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The oven spring was beyond anything I’ve experienced. The balls of dough just kept growing larger and larger and larger and larger. Maybe the blanket folds weren’t necessary. What flour did I use? Dove’s Strong White. I thought they browned a bit too much. I wasn’t happy about that. And maybe they were a bit too dense. There was excellent spring, good texture and crumb, nicely aerated, but just not quite what I expected. Not light and airy, I guess, is what I hoped for.

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For supper, I split a few rolls and then I made sausage patties using the filling recipe from Dan Lepard’s Hot Crust Sausage Rolls. I spiced up the sausage with extra flaked chilli and sage, and then slapped on a pile of caramelised onion on top of the patty.

Next day: I decided to try this recipe again because Dan’s recipes have never disappointed and I figured it was my error causing the slight heavy chewiness. So using the same recipe I made a few changes.

  • I popped down to the shops and bought some full-fat milk, as I read somewhere in Short & Sweet that fat content keeps the crust soft. The crust on my first batch was leaning toward chewy.
  • I didn’t use Half Spoon. I used sugar but reduced the amount to 40g
  • Reduced the ball weight to 80g each so they were dinner rolls
  • Kept oven temperature at 230C but reduced the total baking time to 13-minutes

The result was perfection. There was a volleyball-ish oven spring, very soft and tender crust, airy crumb. It was a totally different roll. I put it down to a few things: full-fat milk instead of semi-skimmed, real sugar, and mixed entirely by hand rather than using the standmixer. The blanket fold might be responsible for the near anti-gravity spring in the oven.

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Mr. Misk said that both batches were delicious but he preferred today’s second try. My youngest son stopped by for a cup of tea after work and he finished off the remaining 3 baps from Day 1 bake. I boxed up several of today’s bake for him to take home.

Success smells sweet.

p.s. Quite unexpectedly, I figured out how the do the Baker Brother’s cupped finger twirly round and round method of forming a dough ball. Unbelievable. Easy.

You can buy Dan’s “Short & Sweet” book at Amazon.co.uk

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18 Comments Add yours

  1. Well done on successfully reducing the size of your second batch – 80g sounds like a good bap. They look beautifully tender with good elasticity (ie, you can press the roll together and it springs back).

    Like you, I was taken aback by the oven spring of the first batch (I hand-mixed mine and gave them a couple of folds because I’d had to let the sponge retard for >24hrs in response to events. Oddly enough, I’ve also had to retard the sponge that I made up today so won’t finish the dough/bake them off until Saturday).

    I baked mine at 200C (I can’t turn off the fan) – and I might do the next batch at 190C then the remainder at 200C depending upon the bake.

    Yet again – hasn’t Short and Sweet delivered quite the revelation as to the taste and texture than can be achieved? One week, it’s crackers and oatcakes, another delightful baps and flaky sausage rolls.

    1. Misk Cooks says:

      I’ll look forward to reading the final post on this one. The difference between the first and second attempt was significant. Seemed like a different recipe to be honest.

      I’m enjoying these challenges, and it’s certainly stretching my knowledge base on baking. I’m really learning a lot, which I enjoy! You’ve also picked some excellent recipes so credit to you! 🙂

  2. Isn’t it always the case that the more we practice the more we can perfect a recipe? I’m impressed that you went right back again the next day and got it just right! I love baps:) the floury softness of them… these did turn out perfect. If only you could show us that “cupped finger twirly” technique:)

    1. Misk Cooks says:

      I’ll try to describe that method in a future post. It’s done with the heel of your palm and your fingers just keep it place. I can only do it with one hand though. The professionals on telly use both hands! Wow!

  3. ninopane says:

    Beautiful rolls Misk. I have done various types of this roll and always struggled to get the light colouring you’ve achieved.

    Will be trying these later!

    Tony

    1. Misk Cooks says:

      Hi Tony,

      I’m hoping to get my next attempt even lighter. I like my baps quite light in colour. 🙂

  4. C says:

    Love the step-by-step photos. I’m intrigued that there was so much difference between the first and second batches. I recall making these a couple of years ago from the Guardian and while thinking they were nice I don’t recall the oven spring. I seem to remember the crumb being a little …. not dense exactly, but almost powdery in texture. I think I found it odd and offputting but perhaps I should give them another go after reading about your attempts.

    Hmm, I’ll have to try the ball making technique you describe – my rolls are never very round!

    1. Misk Cooks says:

      I think you should try again as I didn’t find them powdery at all. 🙂

      1. C says:

        No, neither did I this time, perhaps I was remembering something else, or just remembering incorrectly! Well worth the remake. Thanks for the tip about 80g rolls – mine were about 85g which was the perfect size for me.

        1. Misk Cooks says:

          I’m glad that it worked out for you! I think it’s a fab recipe. 🙂

  5. I like doing that hand twirly thing too 🙂
    Beautiful round rolls Ms Misk.

    1. Misk Cooks says:

      I rather giggled when the method seemingly jumped into my hand. It’s done with the heel of your palm rather than your fingers. Who’d have known by seeing it done on telly!

  6. Nicola says:

    Your posts always make me chuckle 😀 I’ve been having poundland equipment issues too… never trust an econo-sieve! I do like the very pretty Dove’s cornflour.

    Now tempted to give them another whirl, just for the shaping — you’ll notice, for mine, I just pulled off a lump of dough, moved it about a bit, and plopped it on the tray! Nowhere near as elegant…

    1. Misk Cooks says:

      I rather like that Dove’s cornflour container,too. I keep filling it up with supermarket own-brand cornflour. Sshhhhh! 😀 As for the flour sifter, I think I’ll try Lakeland. I saw a nice one there with the soft-grip handle.

      I thought your baps looked fabulous! And that pork! Oh my. I’m going to link back to it here because it looked simply delicious. So …. Here’s Nicola’s Pork Cheeks and Baps recipe:
      http://north19.co.uk/chinese-style-pig-cheek-baps/

      Thanks for taking the time to post your comments here, Nicola!

  7. I feel like I was on the journey with you, beautifully written, lovely photos. And I feel I’ve learned some more about baking bread (full fat milk). Thank you 🙂

    1. Misk Cooks says:

      I’m becoming the poster child for “practise makes perfect”. 😀 Second attempt was a perfect bap. I think the dough was too wet on the first go. I don’t think that I mis-measured, so not sure why I struggled with it. We’ve eaten all of them now, so this week I’ll make some more. They are absolutely delicious. Excellent recipe.

      I hope that your leg is on the mend! 🙂

  8. Choclette says:

    Great post, your rolls look perfect and well done for having a second go. Will we be seeing a demonstration of the twirly finger thing?

    I used Dan’s blanket fold for 1st time ever on my muffins yesterday – was amazed by results.

    1. Misk Cooks says:

      Yes, that blanket fold is an amazing little trick that really makes dough buoyant when it rises.

      I don’t have a camera that does videos so any description of that hand motion would have to be entirely verbal. I haven’t actually worked out how to word it! 😀

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