I seem to go throught phases of making my own bread, and then for one reason or another, I return to buying bread. Then something else happens and I'm back making my own again. And when I'm making my own there tend to be phases too - at the start of the year I was very much into wholemeal bread, during a phase in June and July I was making soda bread like it was going out of fashion (sorry, no post to link to as I never managed to get decent photos and write it up) and now it's white bread all the way. I know, I know, I should really make wholemeal because it's so much healthier, but at the moment, it's white that's hitting the spot.
Browsing Dan Lepard's forums, I came across the recipe he's recently published in the Guardian for Buttermilk baps. They caught my eye and I really fancied making them. But as I read down the thread I was distracted by helena's comment - talking about the soft white baps that are her family's favourite. I was intruiged and decided to put off the buttermilk baps for another time, to make these soft white baps. Would the inclusion of a little cornflour (cornstarch in the USA, I believe - fine white powdery stuff) really make such a big difference to the texture of the end product?
Further inspection of the recipe revealed that it yielded nine enormous baps, rather more than I wanted, so I halved the recipe. In the end I made 7 baps out of my half, which I felt were pretty much the right size for my lunch each day so I can't imagine what size the originals would have been!
I won't reproduce the method here, as you can find it over at Dan's forums, but will list the ingredients I used for my future reference as much as anything! I cut down the butter a little because although it's important to have a little fat in the recipe for texture, I prefer to put butter on my bread where I can taste it's delicious creamy flavour than in the bread where the butter is part of the overall effect. Well, I like to think that I'm attempting to cut down on saturated fat occasionally (just don't look at any of the other cake/cookie/biscuit recipes on this blog!!!). I also cut down the sugar as a couple of comments had been made about the recipe being a little sweet, which I didn't want, as these were for savoury use.
Soft white baps
For the sponge
260g strong white flour
scant tsp easy blend yeast (about 4g)
225ml warm water
For the dough
140g strong white flour
15g caster sugar
1tsp salt (about 6g)
The dough was quite soft to work with at first and the kneading on oil technique that Dan recommends was a great way of stopping everything becoming plastered in sticky dough. The dough quickly started behaving itself though, and became smooth and easy to handle.
Taste and texture wise - were these really a soft bap? Some of the white rolls I've made in the past have suffered from having too thick a crust to the soft inside, with a tendency to be a little tight and dry (using just general white bread dough recipes). These were different - the crust was indeed soft and so were the insides. You can see the soft, uniform texture of the crumb in the photo above. When I proved and baked them, they fused together, giving beautifully soft edges to the rolls too. I think these are definitely on the 'to make again' list! Thanks Dan!