It’s no secret that I love baking my own bread; I just find it tastes far nicer, leaves me feeling fuller and gives me something to do. Baking and cooking is my ‘thing’ – when I’m stressed, I bake. When I feel ill, I crave a comforting meal. It’s very rare that I have no motivation to get into the kitchen. In fact, I quite often use it as a procrastination tool!
Whilst I still do buy bread – I’m awful at slicing so need something for toast, and I have a massive weakness for M&S white baguettes – the majority I eat is homemade. Pretty much every week this year (certainly every fortnight) I’ve proved my way to a batch of rolls, bagels or even pittas. And I’m lazy. Very lazy. So my bread requires no kneading, very little hands on work, and even the shaping takes just five or so minutes. Throw in the oven for 15 or so minutes and you’ve got a week’s worth of bread rolls for very little effort. And a rather yummy smelling kitchen.
I still maintain that James Morton’s Brilliant Bread is the best bread book I’ve read. Possibly because he advocates no-kneading, possibly because no recipe I’ve tried from it has failed yet. And he’s not exactly unattractive to look at either…this recipe is loosely based on his “Wholemeal Bread.” I’ve altered the proportions slightly to suit my tastes, made it even lazier, and turned it into 8 rolls. Perfect for lunches!
- 500g strong bread flour, made up of wholemeal and white – my favourite proportion is 375g wholemeal, 125g white, but it’s up to you
- 7g salt
- 6g yeast (I buy a tub and keep it in the fridge, so much cheaper than individual sachets)
- 375ml water, warm (I boil a kettle, and use 100ml boiled and the rest cold)
To make up the dough, simply add the flours to a big bowl and stir with a knife to combined. Add the yeast to one end of the bowl, salt to the other, and rub in. James says to keep them separate at this stage, and whilst I do add them to separate ends I don’t make a special effort to keep them apart.
Make a well in the flour mix, and add the water. Stir with the knife until it’s coming together, then get your hands in and bring together into a scraggly ball. Cover the ball with cling-film and leave to rise for half an hour.
After the half-hour rise, using a wet hand slide your fingers under the dough and fold it over. Repeat a couple of times, turning the bowl with each fold, until the dough feels smoother. Cover with cling-film and pop in the fridge – I usually put it into the fridge at about 8am, and take it out around 4pm when I get back from lectures. If you don’t do the final rise in the fridge, leave for half an hour, repeat the folding process, then leave for another hour until doubled in size.
Once it’s risen to twice it’s size (a good 6-8 hours in the fridge), tip out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 8 roughly equal portions, and roll each into a ball. Cup one hand, place on top of the ball of dough, and make large circles against the work surface – this creates friction and gives a ‘tight’ round bread roll. Place on top of a greaseproof paper lined baking tray. Once all rolls are shaped, cover the tray with cling-film, and leave to rise for a final hour.
Preheat the oven to 200C, then bake the rolls for around 15-20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack (leaving them on the tray will give a soggy bottom), then eat as many as you can still warm. Any leftovers freeze well for the rest of the week.
As I type this I have a batch in the oven – the smell is amazing. There’s nothing better than the small of homemade bread, no? These are the perfect combination of indulgently crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, whilst having a healthy feel from the wholemeal flour. Next challenge? The perfect seeded bake!
Do you ever make your own bread?