Being impatient and having a small kitchen, I really try to find shortcuts to lengthy recipes that require a lot of time, bowls, ingredients, steps and dishes.
In case of baking bread, I have tried many ‘no-knead’ methods (such as Mark Bittman’s famous recipe) to avoid covering my my kitchen counter (and the floor and myself) in flour or to use more than one bowl.
Besides the fabulous ‘life changing loaf‘ that I don’t really consider bread but more of a healthy breakfast bar, I have never baked a bread that I was really proud of. That was until last week when I baked a batch of rolls that were just perfect. There was a crust, it was chewy, it was moist but most of all it had an airy puffy interior that still provided bite. I was able to rip strands of bread off and to smear it with butter.
Off course, I have tried to figure out a way to still save time, and I have simply done so by making a large portion (in case someone is wondering after all these huge recipes whether I am feeding an army, the answer is no, but yes I could) and by shaping the dough before proving it overnight (alternatively recipes sometimes advise you to prove the dough twice, I skipped this extra step without noticing a difference).
- 300 grams of wholewheat flour
- 300 grams of all-purpose flour (feel free to amend the kinds of flour, but be careful with using more wholewheat flour as it will weigh the dough down and will not rise as much)
- 100 grams extra of all-purpose flour (for kneading)
- teaspoon of salt
- 20 grindings of black pepper
- 200 grams of brined green olives, drained and chopped
- 5 grams of instant dried yeast (sachet)
- 350 milliliters of lukewarm or cold water
- loads of patience
Put all ingredients together in a large bowl and stir together so it all holds as a dough. Then take it out of the bowl and start kneading it on your kitchen counter. At first your dough will seem sturdy and on the dry side, after kneading a while (count until 200 kneads in your head for example or just sing along loudly with top 40 hits for 15 minutes as I prefer), you will notice that it will absorb more and more flour. Just feed the dough with as much all-purpose flour as it will need to not stick to the counter top and don’t look at the numbers too much. Kneading comes down to pushing and folding the dough over and over again. After kneading for a while you will notice that the dough gains more elasticity due to the gluten developing. To test whether you have kneaded the dough long enough, just make a ball out of it and push your finger lightly into it. Once the bread bounces back, you have reached the right consistency.
Lay down the dough on a chopping board and slice it into 10 or 12 pieces. I would advise you to weigh all different pieces to make sure they have the same weight (this will make sure all pieces bake equally).
Roll the pieces into balls with your hands and lie them out on a piece of baking paper (you won’t have to transfer it after proving). Lie a clean kitchen towel on top of the dough and leave it out on your kitchen counter for at least 10 hours, any time longer will improve the taste and rise.
Overnight, the size of the rolls will have doubled. By this time they are ready to bake.
To achieve a good crust, crank up your oven to its maximum temperature (in my case this is 260 degrees Celsius). Leave your baking tray (preferably heavy duty steel or alternatively a muffin tray) in the oven while it is heating up. After the oven has reached the desired temperature, take the baking tray (carefully!) out and lay the baking paper with dough on it (it might even sizzle a little).
Return to the oven with speed to lose as little heat as possible, and turn down the heat to 200 degrees Celsius. The initial heat will crisp up the exterior, while the lowered heat will make sure that the inside will bake evenly and airy.
Keep an eye on the rolls. Depending on different factors such as your oven, the flour you used and the weather (not kidding;)) your baking times will differ between 20-30 minutes. The rolls are ready when they are easily picked up from the baking paper and sound hollow when you tap on it.
keep the bread fresher for longer. You could easily leave them out or substitute them with for example soaked dried tomatoes. I would be
careful with ingredients that contain a lot of oil (such as dried tomatoes on oil) as they will change the structure of the bread and speed up the baking process.