I haven’t done a lot of it, but I honestly think bread is one of the more therapeutic things to bake. There’s something about aggressively kneading dough and watching it become more elastic and smooth that is really satisfying. And it’s hard to stay angry about much when your house smells like freshly baked bread. This particular recipe was one of my favourites from pastry school, and is also relatively easy!
I was able to pick up a block of fresh yeast from a bakery nearby, and now I’m trying to capitalize and make all of the yeast dough things that I’ve put off for the last year. It seems like yeast is in short supply these days though, so I’ve also started making a sourdough starter. If anyone else is interested, check out @pastrytraining to join in on a sourdough making adventure!
I’m a pretty typical engineer and like to be very sciencey with my baking. I picked up On Food and Cooking a few years ago, which I would highly recommend for anyone who likes to be technical with food. I’ve included this handy chart that gives a breakdown on what exactly different ingredients do in bread.
Source: McGee, H. (2004). On food and and cooking: The science and lore of the kitchen. Scribner
I’ve copied over my recipe from the original post with a few italicized adjustments for elevation (4500 feet/1370 m)
Also, here is a rough timing breakdown so you can pace appropriately. It will vary a little bit but should give you a decent sense of how long things will take. The active working steps are in bold.
20 minutes: combine ingredients
1 hour: proof
10 minutes: re-work dough into balls
10 minutes: rest
10 minutes: re-work balls of dough
1 hour: proof
20 minutes: bake
HARD BREAD ROLLS
- 450 g bread flour (13.5% gluten)
- 9 g salt
- 18 g fresh yeast (I used 15 g)
- 10 (whole) milk powder
- 6 g sugar
- 20 g butter
- 300 mL water (I used 10 – 20 mL more)
- Form a flour fountain and mix together all of the ingredients, placing the yeast and water inside the fountain.
- Knead the dough until the gluten is properly developed.
- Form a ‘boule’ and place on a floured surface. Dust flour on top of the dough and cover with saran wrap to ferment until it has doubled in size (~1 hour).
- Split the dough into 12 even portions, and form into balls. Set aside and cover, and allow to sit (bench rest) for 5 – 10 minutes.
- Rework each ball of dough, and design as desired.
- Proof the buns until doubled in size (25 C for ~ 1 hour)
- Bake at 400F with steam for 18 – 20 minutes. Ideally, bake on a perforated pan.
- Be sure to use bread flour. After all, “all purpose flour is a no purpose flour.” (Chef Marco)
- Fresh yeast is much better than dry yeast and allows spontaneous fermentation. It lasts for about 1 month. If you need to use dry yeast, use traditional dry yeast and half the amount (as it is 2x as strong as fresh yeast).
- Milk powder helps to enrich the flavour and colour of the dough. Whole milk powder has a short shelf life.
- If you add milk to the dough, it shortens the gluten strands and leads to a softer texture.
- No salt leads to a short and crumbly texture.
- Kneading time varies with flour. Canadian flour has more gluten than American flour, as it has to be more robust to withstand the harsher temperatures.
- The dough gets very sticky as you work it, but do NOT add more flour. Dough is meant to be sticky! As Chef Marco says, “if you hate the stickiness on your fingers, try gardening.”
- I didn’t have a great way of adding steam, so I just put a pan with some water in the oven while baking.