They say necessity is the mother of invention and I have to agree with that one when it comes to food. You know how sometimes you just get a yen, a hankering for something and you can almost taste it in your mind? You MUST have it and now!
Well yesterday due to my cooking schedule I found I had a little smidgen of smoked salmon left over. Hmmmm, how lovely to have that for lunch, on a wonderful crusty roll with cream cheese and dill and lemon juice. I was almost salivating at the thought and it was only 10am! There was one small spanner in the works though, we had no bread in the house to speak of. No lurking loaf in the bread bin and nothing cowering in the depths of the freezer. Due to my footy condition I couldn’t get out to hunt down this fabulous foodie fantasy that I could almost see and taste in a way that was driving me batty.
There was only one thing for it, sometimes you just have to roll up your sleeves, get down and messy in the kitchen and make it yourself. Here comes the D.I.Y. bit for the easiest and tastiest simple braided bread rolls.
- 1 teaspoon fast acting yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 120ml/4 fl oz milk/water combo lukewarm
- 225g/8oz strong white flour (bread flour)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 25g/1 oz chilled butter cubed
- 1 egg beaten
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4
- Place the yeast, half of the sugar and 2 tablespoons of the lukewarm milk/water combo in a small glass and cover. Let it sit for about 20 minutes so the yeast goes all frothy.
- Sieve the flour, remaining sugar and salt into a large bowl and rub in the chilled butter to form a crumb mixture.
- Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast, half of the beaten egg and a little of the liquid.
- Start stirring the mix together to form a dough and add more and more of the liquid as you go.
- Turn dough out on to a floured work surface and knead for about ten minutes.
- Use the olive oil to wipe round the inside of your bowl and also to coat the dough. Pop it into the bowl and cover with a damp tea towel.
- Set aside in a warm place for 1 1/12 hours until it has doubled in size.
- Tip out the dough and punch out the air (very satisfying!).
- Pull into three pieces and roll out into long strips.
- Cut your strips into four short lengths and braid into four plaited rolls.
- Leave these on a baking sheet for another 20 minutes to rise some more.
- Add a teaspoon of water to your remaining beaten egg and use this to glaze the rolls.
- Scatter with the sesame seeds.
- Bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until golden in colour. When you tap them underneith there should be a hollow sound.
- Allow to cool on a wire rack.
There is something so darn satisfying about making bread. It isn’t the fun almost superficial feeling of pleasure you get from baking cakes and pies, it is far more basic, a real old fashioned survival skill if you will. Oh I know, getting all dramatic there and carried away, but there really is something so deeply satisfying about making your own bread.
The kneading is such a zen (whoops, there I go again!) like experience. You can just lose yourself there as you pummel the dough and feel it yield to your touch. I don’t have a fancy mixer so do this by hand anyway and I just love the whole process, a machine would deprive me of this little moment of enjoyment and peace. Okay lets be honest, the bingo wings could do with the exercise too!
I filled my roll with my cream cheese, salad and smoked salmon and ate it in the sun filled kitchen surrounded by cameras, books, notes, baking pans, dirty dishes and all with a fine dusting of flour. It tasted wonderful, it tasted even better than my imaginings. This was lunch worthwhile.
Enjoy your lunch today.