Autumn is here, and the time is perfect for homemade soups, full of vegetables and spices. Comforting and warming for the body and the soul. And the only thing a bowl of soup will ever need is a homemade bread roll, crispy, golden, and freshly baked.
Making homemade bread rolls is one of life’s simple pleasures. To see the dough form, rise and fill the bowl, become aerated and fragrant, to experience the popping of all of the tiny bubbles created by the fermentation; pure magic.
These soft, golden rolls could not be easier to make. A few humble ingredients, a few hours’ time, and they are ready to embellish any meal. Slightly chewy crust, paired by a pillowy soft crumb; a match made in heaven.
On a final note, from time to time I like to lightly brush them with melted butter just as they come out of the oven, while they are still on the baking tray; it gives them a richer flavour, and a slightly softer crust, but that is entirely optional and up to your preference.
For the dough
350 grams plain flour
15 grams fresh yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
175 millilitres warm water
50 millilitres vegetable oil
For the dipping solution
100 millilitres warm water
2 tablespoons baking soda
For the glaze
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
few pinches of sea salt
Sift the flour into a large bowl, add in the salt and sugar, whisk well, and set it aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the fresh yeast and the warm water, mix and set it aside for about 10 minutes so the yeast can activate. Once the yeast has activated, make a well in the centre of the flour, pour in the yeast, oil, and the vinegar, and mix with a wooden spoon until a very soft dough forms.
If the dough is too sticky, add another tablespoon of flour, but not more. The less flour is added at this point, the softer the finished rolls will be. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it by hand for about 5 minutes or so, until it becomes supple and smooth. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover it with a kitchen towel, and let it rise for about an hour, in a warm spot.
Take the risen dough out of the bowl and knead it gently on a very lightly floured surface, then divide it into nine equal parts by weight. Shape each part into a smooth roll, cover them with a clean cloth, and let them rest for about 10 minutes. While the dough is resting, combine the water and baking soda in a container deep enough to dip them in. Whisk vigorously until the baking soda is completely dissolved.
Take a large baking sheet, line it with baking parchment, and place it close to the dough, for easier dough transfer. Dip each roll into the baking soda solution, and immediately place it onto the baking sheet. Allow them to rest for about 5 minutes, and the brush them with an egg yolk mixed with a bit of water. Sprinkle them with sea salt and bake in a preheated oven, at 230˚C, for about 12-15 minutes, or until golden. Serve warm. Yields 9 rolls.
By Tina Vesić