Do you remember the first time you made bread? I was at secondary school and it was pretty much standard that you had to do bread week in cookery as a ‘staple’ skill. We were taught all about the properties of yeast and the importance of good kneading to get good bread. The instructions were to think of something that made you feel really angry and take it out on the dough by kneading as hard as you could. Not just a cookery lesson, but therapy as well………..
I got an ‘A’ for my bread which was only matched by the boy who’s parents ran the local bakers. Either I was a natural or very angry!
The bread we made was white….. shaped into lovely round rolls which were soft and fluffy on the inside and crusty on the outside. They smelt amazing from the point of adding the yeast to being devoured warm, by our hungry class. From that point on, making bread by hand (although not a frequent event) was nostalgic, therapeutic and something to be relished.
These days, being gluten free has made kneading dough a thing of the past. Gluten free bread is not something that requires kneading (there being no gluten to develop), and good gluten free bread can be pretty elusive. Yet it is something that I now have to make lots of, so I am always striving to develop better and get closer to the bread I remember eating when I had no dietary cares.
Those of you out there who don’t experience gluten intolerance may not understand what it means to give up normal bread, but it was hard…… really hard! Something which is so much a part of every day life, from sandwiches to dinner rolls, pizza bases to breakfast toast, burger buns and hot dogs to baguettes for lunch………….. suddenly all of that changes. And then you are searching…… trying to find the brand or the bake to fill that empty hole.
The rolls in this post are the result of a process which has gone through several prototypes, lots of flour tweaking and three alternative measurements of yeast. But I am as proud of them as I was when I got that ‘A’. These rolls actually taste like bread……. Real bread! The type that I used to eat in the days when gluten was fine and I could eat ‘normal’ bread in abundance. Really!
I am now making a couple of batches a week, because not only are they great for lunch, but I can make them long enough to fit sausages, and my daughter is thrilled that she can now have a decent hot dog. The flavour is quite neutral (as white bread should be), so goes well topped with just about anything. The texture is soft and quite airy on the inside, but with a nice crusty edge. The smell of them when cooking and the taste when eaten, takes me straight back to that class room…………… fresh baked bread……..
I reckon that as white bread goes, they are also pretty healthy! A good blend of flours with some almonds thrown in for good measure……….. a little olive oil and dairy as well as gluten free. Give them a go………. you might be pleasantly surprised…………….
White Bread Rolls
- Get ready a couple of baking sheets – lining them with baking paper.
- Weigh and mix together in a large bowl all the flours, polenta, almonds, xanthan gum and salt, making sure any lumps are completely broken down.
- In a separate medium bowl, weigh the yeast and sugar.
- Measure the water into a jug, checking the temperature is hand-warm.
- Pour the water onto the yeast and sugar and whisk until combined and bubbly. Leave for about 10 minutes to allow to ferment.
- Add the olive oil to the dry ingredients and then add the yeast mixture.
- Mix and bring together the dough using either a flat knife or the back of a silicone spoon. Continue to gently ‘knead’ using the knife/spoon until smooth and evenly combined. The mixture should be a thick dough consistency which holds its shape yet drops off the spoon.
- Drop large spoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking sheet and using either the back of a silicone spoon or dampen an ordinary spoon, shape the dough mounds into roll shapes. You can make these slightly larger, long, round or any other shape you fancy.
- Place the tray in a warm place, cover with a clean cloth and leave the rolls to rise for about 45 minutes.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 C/400 F/Gas 6.
- When well-risen, glaze the rolls with a wash of milk or egg using a pastry brush.
- Bake the rolls for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.
- When cooked, cool the rolls on a wire rack.
- If you plan to freeze any, do this as soon as they are cold to keep them as fresh as possible.