Annals of baking, Chapter One.

The hypocritical preamble:

I loathe recipe writers who bake or cook something which looks bloody amazing but decide to post at least five hundred words about them, their babies, and their life before one gets to the recipe.  And when you do find it, you only find the ingredients, needing then to sift through another essay to get to the steps.

In lieu of being able to talk about restaurants, I may start posting more about my baking adventures, which have increased in frequency since the pandemic began.  Apart from this post today, I guarantee that my recipes will begin with everything you need to know about making them, followed only afterwards with blurb, if you so feel inclined to read more.  Rest assured, for once, I do not need a thousand words of prologue to sell you a recipe.  If it has made it onto this blog, then trust me, it is tasty enough for you to invest time and ingredients on.

I also deal in metric measurements, not the absolutely ridiculous U.S. ‘cups’ system.

Savoury Sourdough Rolls (with ricotta and parmesan).

Adapted, by a whisker’s width, from here.

Some notes:

  • This takes a long time to make as there is a lot of resting/proving.  I started at 9am and finished around 6pm.  Plan accordingly!
  • You will need sourdough starter, which takes at least a week to create and grow.  There are plenty of starter recipes out there and the beauty of starter is that they all work but have their own subtle idiosyncrasies which makes for an exciting and unique taste.  I will post my own starter recipe very soon.
  • Proving temperature should always be warm.  If your kitchen is cold, then find somewhere warmer like an airing cupboard or near a radiator.  Basically, a nice toasty room temperature works best.
  • The best baking tray for this is a high-sided 23cm (9-inch) square tin.  Think ‘brownie tin’.

You will need for the dough:

  • 460g plain flour;
  • 195g whole milk;
  • 85g diced, unsalted butter (left at room temperature);
  • 2 beaten eggs;
  • 9g salt;
  • 165g sourdough starter (I will shortly post a great starter recipe).

You will need for the filling:

  • 275g whole milk ricotta;
  • 20g parmesan (grated);
  • 3g chopped thyme.

You will need for the egg wash:

  • 1 beaten egg;
  • 1 tbsp whole milk.

Method:

  1. Begin by ensuring the butter has been left out to significantly soften, and that the eggs are at room temperature too.
  2. Warm the milk to 25C in a pan or a microwave.
  3. Mix the flour, the 2 eggs, the milk, the salt and starter together (everything but the butter).  The dough will be gloopy and hardly formed.  The original recipe calls for a machine and dough hook.  I managed just fine with a bowl and spatula.
  4. Leave the dough uncovered, to rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Mix in the butter, bit by bit.  It should incorporate reasonably easy if it is super-soft.  Mix in a cube at a time.
  6. By now the dough should be smooth, slightly elastic but still sticky and not fully developed.  I was very worried about how wet my dough was, so added some more flour, 10g or so. 
  7. Cover the dough and leave it to rest in a clean bowl on the counter for 30 minutes.  Whenever I cover dough, I use a clean plastic shopping bag.
  8. Using wet hands, take the side of the dough that is furthest from you.  Pull it over the top of the dough, towards you, folding it onto the side nearest to you.  Note: the dough can be very sticky, and these folds should take place in the bowl.  If you are struggling as the dough is too wet, then flour the countertop and empty the dough onto it, folding on there instead.  Transfer back to the bowl for resting.
  9. Repeat the process, starting with the side of the dough nearest to you (so you are folding it away from you, towards the side furthest away from you).  
  10. Repeat twice more, but with the left and right sides (so fold the left side of the dough over the right, and then the right side over to the left).
  11. The dough should be (kind of) a square shape in the bowl.
  12. Cover and rest for 30 minutes.
  13. Repeat steps 8 to 11 once more.
  14. Cover and rest for 30 minutes.
  15. Repeat steps 8 to 11 one final time.
  16. Cover and rest the dough for 2 hours.
  17. After resting, chill the dough in the fridge for at least 1 hour or overnight (maximum of 24 hours).  This makes the dough easier to shape and cut.
  18. Grease and line your baking tin.  Mine is non-stick so I just placed a square of baking paper in the base and that was it.
  19. Mix the ricotta, parmesan and thyme for the filling, until it is smooth.
  20. Flour the countertop and roll out the dough into a 38cm x 40cm (15-inch x 16-inch) rectangle, landscape orientation as you look at it.  Be generous with the flour on the countertop and on top of the dough, as the dough will be prone to sticking and tearing.
  21. Spread the filling evenly all over the dough, right to the edges.
  22. Tightly roll the dough up along the long edge (so either towards you or away from you).  Try to do this as tight as you can, as this will increase the rings and therefore the distribution of the filling.
  23. Cut the roll into 9 slices.  These will be roughly 3.5/4cm (1.5-inches) thick.  You might want to trim the edges of the roll, so each slice is nice and uniform.
  24. Add the slices to your tray, 3×3, with a space in between each one.
  25. Cover and prove for 2 hours.  During the end of this proving period, you want to pre-heat your oven to 205C / 190C fan, so it is ready for the rolls as soon as the prove has finished.
  26. Make your egg wash, whisking up the egg and milk until frothy.
  27. Using a baking brush, give the tops of the rolls a good coating of egg wash.
  28. Put the rolls in the oven and bake for 35 minutes, rotating 180 degrees halfway through.
  29. The rolls are done when the tops are golden.  If they are browning too fast, put some foil over the top of them and carry on baking.
  30. Once out of the over, allow the rolls to cool in the tray for 10 minutes on a wire rack, then dust with some more grated parmesan. Enjoy!

The blurb:

Not much, as I killed my wrists typing out such a long process.  However, these rolls are a fitting first recipe for T.F.T. as they were perfect, and the first bread bake I have done which can be considered a total success.  The enriched dough and long proving time made for light and fluffy bread contrasting wonderfully with that unmistakable tang of sourdough, flavoured perfectly with the cheese mix. 

The rolls are best enjoyed either straight way or warmed up for 30 seconds in the microwave, with a light spreading of cream cheese and ham.  They keep for a week or so if you have sealed them appropriately. 

Most excitingly of all, you can substitute the filling for all manner of other ingredients.  Next time, I am going try either cheddar and bacon, or manchego and chorizo.  Because I am filthy.

Goodness gracious me.

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