Soft Sandwich Rolls - BC20 Back to Basics
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A roll? For a sandwich? What sort of roll?
Well, first of all, I want a roll that is pillowy soft inside. I want one that will be robust enough to do justice to the addition of a filling. I want a roll that will be fresh and soft, even after a few hours.
I want a roll that I can freeze in a bag, pull out a couple after breakfast. leave to thaw and have them with bacon a few hours later for lunch.
Bacon. Or egg. Or bacon and egg (the traditional, military Egg Banjo - https://www.forces.net/military-life/fun/ever-wondered-why-its-called-egg-banjo ).
Or tuna, or sausage, or cheese, or pâte....the list is endless.
As Matt Lucas once said..."the older I get, the more infantile my taste buds become." I know what he means. My absolute favourite sandwich filling comes from childhood....Shippham's meat paste...chicken or beef, I don't mind. My wife, whose taste buds are clearly and infinitely more sophisticated than mine, contemptuously calls them - "beak and hoof pastes". But then again, she eats quiche!
But, as usual, we digress. Back to the rolls. Believe it or not, the archetypal bread roll is ancient. Athenaeus (c170 AD - c230 AD) in his work, Deipnosophistae, mentions a whole variety of bread, cakes and pastries available in the Classical World. And there, in amongst the griddle cakes, the honey and oil bread, the mushrom-shaped loaves covered in poppy seeds, are the military rolls baked on a spit, then split and filled. The bread roll. The tortamque panis. Ideal for the legionaries and rhe centurions having to march their fifteen or so miles a day on a mutton, beef or pork roll. It's character-forming...and stomach-filling. If only the Romans had invented the banjo!
My soft sandwich rolls can be made by machine or by hand.
750 gms of strong white bread flour
450 gms of tepid filtered water (or own-brand bottled water)
6 tablespoons of olive oil
2 teaspoons of sea salt
1 flat tablespoon demerara sugar
1 teaspoon instant dried yeast
METHOD (for 12 small or 6 large rolls)
If you're using a bread machine, add the flour and the salt to the pan and cover with the liquid. Leave to autolyse for fifteen minutes. Add the remainder of the ingredients and choose a Basic Dough programme (2hrs 20 minutes). The proceed to the next stage.
If you're using a stand mixer, add the flour, salt, oil, yeast and water to the bowl. Mix on a slow speed for 8 - 10 minutes until the dough is soft and elastic. Check the dough by pulling a small section up and seeing if it holds together. Cover and leave for an hour until it has doubled in size.
If you're mixing by hand, add the oil and the salt to the flour and mix thoroughly. Then add othe remainder of the dry ingredients (except the yeast). Slowly add the liquid and then the yeast until you have a sticky mix. Turn the mix out onto a floured board and knead until you have a silky and pliable dough. (There are 'Help' videos and articles in the 'Useful Web and YouTube links' on the lefthand side of this page). Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover. Leave for an hour somewhere warm until the dough has doubled in size.
Move on to Stage 2
Very lightly flour your worktop and tip the dough out.
Weigh the dough and gently knock it back.
Divide the dough into 12 equal portions. Weighing the dough accurately gives you an even bake, and they'll look better, as well!
Prepare a large baking sheet - line it with silicone or parchment paper.
Taking each dough ball in turn form it into a ball. Jack Sturgess ('Bake with Jack') has a really good video to help you if you're not confident in baking the perfect bread roll. Just remember, the size of the roll is dictated by you - a large roll becomes a lunch. A small roll is a snack!
Place the dough rolls on the baking sheet, leaving about one inch between them. This will ensure that, as they double in colume, they will touch and you'll have a soft side when you tear them apart. In the bakery, we always referred to this as 'batch baking'.
Preheat the oven to 190⁰C.
Just before putting the rolls into the oven, dust them with plain (all-purpose) flour.
Bake for about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on them so they don't brown too much or too quickly. This is a soft roll, not a crusty cob.
Place on a rack to cool. Don't pull them apart until they are cool.
These rolls will freeze. You can take them out as you need them and allow to thaw at room temperature.
Sometimes, if I want some for walks or picnics, I'll slice a few before freezing and then I can fill the rolls while they are frozen, wrap them in cling film and they'll thaw out in time for lunch.