Being brutally honest, and killing the dreams of hard working bakers far and wide, I have to admit that ‘bread week’ on the Bake Off has always been my least favourite. This is probably an opinion shared by most, because what exactly is so exciting about a nicely bulbous shaped loaf with a thick crust and a hollow sound when you knock on its underbelly? Not a lot, really. Not at all exciting compared to a lusciously whipped buttercream smothered atop a sweet and light sponge, sandwiched together with crème pâtissière and topped off with a miniature architect-designed building made of spun sugar.
Until recently, all I’ve been obsessing over in the baking department is sweet, sweet and more sweet. The truth is, aside from the occasional banana loaf, I’ve never actually baked a loaf of bread. Since being so lucky as to win a beautiful cookbook in a giveaway, simply entitled ‘Bread’, I decided to have a stab at a basic recipe to sort of ease myself into this new world of savoury bakes. Who better to call on than good ole’ Delia! As always, she did not let me down. These rolls were absolute perfection – enjoyed immensely eaten straight out of the oven, spread generously with salted butter.
- 225g strong wholemeal flour
- 225g strong white flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 10 fl oz hand hot water
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 7g sachet of yeast, or 2 tsp
- 1 tsp butter
Measure the flours and the salt into a large bowl and mix together. Pop this into a warm oven (50°C is the lowest mine can be) while you carry on with everything else. I’m entirely unsure why, but whatever Delia says, I do. She can do no wrong!
Pour 10 fl oz of hand hot water into a jug, then pour out half into another jug or bowl to save for later. Into one of the jugs, sprinkle in the brown sugar and yeast. Mix this together and set aside for 5 minutes until a frothy head has formed.
Take your nice and toasty flour from the oven and rub in the butter until it’s completely distributed. Form a well in the middle, pour in the yeast mixture (after giving it a little stir) and use the rest of the water to swill out the remnants of the yeast and pour that in too.
Use a wooden spoon to bring the mixture together, then use your hands to combine it until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl clean. Tip it out onto a floured surface and knead for 5-6 minutes, until you have a smooth elastic dough. Take out all your frustrations – the bread rolls will thank you for it.
Weigh the dough, divide it by 12 and use your scales to separate it into evenly sized balls. Usually I would wing it and end up with all different sized buns (variety is the spice of life) but I’ve recently got these brand spanking new scales from Amazon and am using them at every chance I get. Goodbye cups, I will no longer be victim to your haphazard accuracies!
Delia advises to flatten each ball into an oblong. Fold one length into the middle, and the other over the top of that. Now slap until it becomes a ball. These instructions to me were a tad ambiguous, so I half followed it but more or less you simply use your hands the best way you can to make them ball shaped. I’m not convinced any form of oblong needs to be made.
Place the rolls onto a well oiled baked tray, and cover loosely with cling film. Leave them in a warm place (an airing cupboard works wonderfully) for 35-40 minutes, or at room temperature for 90 minutes until they have doubled in size. Magic!
When cooked, they will be a glorious golden brown, and sound hollow when tapped. Cool them on a wire rack, but make sure to taste one freshly baked – there really is nothing better! I’m going to freeze some of my batch, and save the rest to have buttered with soup during the week for my lunch. Once the aforementioned cookbook all about bread arrives, there will be many more loaves to come, particularly his Spinach, Pumpkin, Cumin & Feta Damper bread which sounds delicious!