Still, the new year deserves a new effort - and mine this time was to bake bread from scratch, by hand. I had tried making stuffed buns (minus the stuffing) some few days back, and although the buns were edible enough, they didnt quite make the cut. Then I tried the pav buns from the Jugalbandits and that was a very much better effort. The flavour and aroma were lovely, but the texture still left something to be desired - probably because of something I did (or didnt). It wasnt soft like I wanted my pav buns to be.
Today, I tried out a recipe for dinner rolls from Nic, of Baking Bites - and that was a spectacular success. I've tried baking bread before, with not much success when it came to hand baking. Using a bread machine sort of worked, but it didn't seem like I was really baking, y'know? Neither the experience nor the bread was authentic.
Anyway, this time I decided I wouldn’t worry about the outcome. In fact, I was so laidback, I was practically horizontal (so I took advantage of that position and had a snooze while the yeast did its business - twice!). It worked. The dinner rolls came out absolutely perfect - golden brown top, soft fluffy interior - exactly as I've seen in bakeries. It was just amazing.
I personally think the texture was so glorious because of Nic's specification to mix 1 cup of flour with 1 cup of warm water and 2.5 tsp of instant dried yeast and let it sit for at least an hour and up to 3 hours. I think that starter was what made the rolls so incredibly good. I didn’t use white whole-wheat flour as she did, though (because I didn’t have it and didn’t know where to get it)... so I used strong white bread flour throughout, and it worked just fine! I didn’t bother with the egg wash, either. I meant to brush the tops of the rolls with milk, but I forgot. It didn't seem to matter anyway. The rolls were perfect - pav buns, in Indian terms. Even the shape was pav-like because the round baking tin I used was slightly too small to accommodate all the buns, and they turned out tall-ish rather than round. Soft, fluffy, gorgeous...
Forgive my exuberance (and master-bakers, don't snigger, please!) - it's the first time that any bread I've baked with yeast, made from scratch, has come out so well, and I'm really rather thrilled. Yes, I've only made simple dinner rolls, but for someone like me, a non-bread-baker, it's quite an achievement. Thanks, Nic! Happy New Year, all!
PS. There's no point trying out these buns unless you have a lot of time - and contrarily enough (and this is VERY important), lots of things to fill that time. Otherwise, simply waiting for the dough to rise will drive you over the borders of wherever you live and right into the land of Insania.)
Recipe for: Pav buns/dinner rolls
3-1/2 cups strong white bread flour
1 cup water, warm
2-1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp sugar
1-1/2 tsp salt
1. Mix 1 cup bread flour, 1 cup water and the yeast in a large bowl so that there are no lumps. Let this stand, covered with plastic wrap, for 1-3 hours in a warm place. The idea is for the mixture to get bubbly and rise a bit. (This starter took about an hour, with the bowl placed in the oven and just the pilot light turned on.)
2. Now stir 2 cups of the remaining flour, the buttermilk, melted butter, sugar and salt into the starter. Mix with a wooden spoon till the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.
3. Turn the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured surface and knead, adding the remaining flour a tbsp at a time, if required. The dough should be springy, smooth and elastic when done (takes 6-8 minutes of kneading by hand).
4. Now grease the bowl lightly with butter or oil, and put the dough in, turning it around once or twice so that it is coated. Cover with plastic wrap and pop back into your warm place. (Mine was again the oven.) Leave it for 1-1/2 hours or so till the dough is doubled in volume.
5. Turn the risen dough back onto the lightly floured surface and punch down lightly, then divide into golf-ball sized rounds.
6. Grease a 9” round cake pan lightly and line the bottom with non-stick silicone paper. Place the rolls into the pan, leaving about ½” gap between each – about 7 around the edge and 2 or three in the centre). (I left only ¼” gap, which made the buns tall-ish rather than round in the final rising.) Cover the rolls with a clean dish towel and let them rise for 45 minutes or so – yes, again in a warm place. The rolls should have “fused” where theytouched.
7. Preheat the oven to 180C and bake the rolls for 30 minutes (by all means remove the dish towel before baking, because I don’t know what would happen if the towel stayed on.) They should ALL be uniformly golden brown on top.
8. Remove the rolls from the pan and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Serve warm with butter, and at the table, let each person pull apart a roll from the main bunch.