“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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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