Now wiser and some breads and buns later I have compiled my own step by step guide to follow for basic bread baking. Recipe is good for both bread and rolls…my basic recipe for both..
Keep the yeast, sugar and little warm milk in a bowl to foam , within 10 minutes it should look like this.
All foamy and good , so you can confidently go ahead with rest of the dough preparation.
Make a well on a clean counter and add the prepared yeast solution in the middle little by little.
As you keep adding the milk and making the dough, it will look like this shaggy and sticky but not to worry, you need to pull the dough with your hands as much as it will go, the stickiness will slowly reduce as you keep doing this. work either on the counter or in a deep bowl or even on a non stick surface…easier to clean up.
Here you need to use the heel of your palm to drag along the sticky dough gently , you will see the so many perforations showing the yeast has worked well, this is one test to see if the dough has been kneaded well. you will see at this stage the dough comes together, though appearing to be still stodgy.
Finally within 5 to 8 minutes you will start getting a smooth shiny elastic dough after adding the softened butter in the finishing step of making the dough, this helps to gather a smooth dough.
Use a bench scraper or any sharp rounded tool in the kitchen , like a flat spatula will also do to gather the still sticky dough into an oiled bowl.Scrape off from the counter into a greased bowl where the dough will rest upto 45 minutes max or until doubled .
After the dough has nearly doubled, it will look like this. Completely risen.
Remove the dough from the bowl, and flatten it against a nonstick surface or a dusted counter. I prefer the nonstick plate as it helps to work easily with the still wobbly dough. Knock out all the air and flatten it to a thickness evenly.I did not use any measurements, just roughly flattened out while using the knuckles to knock out air and a rectangle as much as possible.
The reason is this recipe can be used to make pav buns/dinner rolls , so you need to cut the dough into thick strips . vertically as shown.in the pic below.
Use the scraper to make the strips and cut them further to smaller pieces to make into rolls . If you plan to make a loaf, then simple keep the flattened rectangle of dough and keep rolling and shaping into a loaf , pinch the seams and smooth-en.
Now let us get down to the recipe in detail.
water + milk to make 1 cup, to be warm).
butter (or non-dairy equivalent)
- First step is to
place the flour in a circular
manner , make a large well in the middle
on a clean counter . I prefer to
work on the counter .
- If you have a mixer with a bread hook you can
use that or just mix by hand. I recommend this step only if you have
confidence in the yeast and that it is fresh, otherwise first prove it separately
and then add it to the well.
- Pour half the water/milk in the center, add the yeast, sugar
and salt. Then either with a fork or your fingers, work the sugar, yeast, and
salt together, the yeast will activate , keep doing this by rubbing the yeast,
sugar and water. I decided to work with my fingers, be prepared for some elbow
- The alternate is to first prove the yeast by mixing warm
milk/water , sugar and give a gentle stir and let it sit , after 10 minutes , you will see it foamy and risen. See the pic below. This
is the test for the quality of your yeast.
- Now you can proceed with rest of the
recipe, if the yeast remains as it is showing no sign of proving, discard and start
with a fresh batch, no point in going ahead as you will not get the bread you
desire. Pour the foamy yeast mixture into the middle area of the well and start making the dough.
- Slowly keep bringing all the flour from the sides towards
the well, don’t panic when you see the middle of the well all gooey and watery,
don’t break the flour wall . Keep adding remaining water/milk.
- The next step is getting it together, slowly you will see
the flour, milk, all coming together but in a sticky mass, which shouldn’t bother you, keep working at the sticky dough.
- You will note that the dough is almost of a thick porridge,
after you have added all the milk a, bring all the flour together, you will get
a little sticky dough now, time to add the butter, which will now make it more
manageable to work with. Keep aside some flour ,( not additional four! ) But from the wall that
you have built, for the last stage where you may need to finish the dough into
a smooth elastic ball.
- You will observe the dough has now become more elastic,
though very loose, keep working, do not add any flour to make it tough, this
will not give you the fluffy buns that we want.
- Flour your hands, pat and push the dough together with any
left over dough.
- You need to push, fold, slap and roll the dough around,
over and over, for 4 or 5 minutes until you have a silky and elastic dough.
- Use both hands
now to make a smooth ball of
dough , then stretch it for a bit as
much as it will, then again bring it together into a ball. Over all you need to spend a good 5 minutes max working the dough till smooth but slightly tacky. It should spring back when poked.
- Time to let the dough rise.
- Put it in a bowl, cover with
cling film, and allow it to rise or double for about half an hour until doubled in size
– ideally in a warm, place. You can cover with a kitchen
- Once the dough has doubled in size maybe around 45
minutes or 1 hour depending on the weather conditions you will notice the dough would have
expanded sideways, not to worry.
- Knock the air out
for 30 seconds minimum by bashing it and squashing it
With your knuckles. Do not add flour , but you can flour your palms to
work with the dough. or grease the palm.
- You can now shape it into rolls ,split the dough in half and then again more sections so that you have even sections of dough to make even size rolls.
- Flatten the dough into a rectangle and
then punching out the air, then use a bench scraper or a kitchen tool like a round thin plate, works well! to make thick strips of dough. Cut those strips of thick dough into
smaller pieces which will be the individual size of buns.
- To shape into rolls, tuck the edges underneath
to form a plump little ball, then shape into small rolls and keep on a
greased baking pan.
- You can also leave it
instead as a loaf by shaping it into a loaf and placing it in the loaf pan for
the second rise. If you plan to make individual rolls, take a baking sheet and place the small
rolls , little apart to give room for expansion. Let the rolls rise until they
look fluffy, see the pic and fill the pan roughly 30-40 minutes.
- This is the most important step, as the second rise will
give the really light airy texture to the rolls
that we love in breads. Patience is the key here, let the bread dough
- Do not meddle at this stage and once fully risen , you will see the rolls
all expanded and close to one another. Time to keep in the preheated oven. Brush the tops with milk. Melt the butter and
brush it over the risen dinner rolls. This helps the tops to brown and keeps
the crust soft. to get a lovely pale golden hue.
- Bake at 220 C for
17 to 20 minutes till you see the firm
top . or until the rolls are slightly golden brown. The color will be very subtle so make sure
you do not over bake.
- Take them out and brush the roll with melted butter.
the rolls cool on a wire rack until cool enough to handle. They are best if
eaten within a day or two, but will keep good and fresh in an airtight container on the
counter for up to a week. Which I really doubt as once these rolls are out from the oven your family will pounce on them !
now I can say confidently that although the recipe for the bread and rolls seem
easy and fuss free, believe me it is not!! Not if you do not heed to the care taken while kneading.
all a satisfying roll. I now realize the various kneading techniques initially
matters to get that perfect fluffy roll.
for getting that super soft light roll that we all yearn for.
- The key words that you need to keep on top of the mind,
is knead, pull, push, fold, slap and roll.
- These are the sure fire techniques that will help achieve
the perfect roll.
- From a porridgy, stodgy , sticky dough you will apply all
these techniques to bring it to a smooth elastic shiny though a tad bit sticky
- Do not attempt to add more flour than mentioned .
- While kneading and bringing all the flour together in the
well after working the sugar, yeast, milk , save a little bit of the flour from
the well for that last bit of patting to lift the sticky dough form the
- A kitchen scraper will do the job or else use some blunt tin plate etc.
- If you have the non stick mat , use that as a surface to work the
- Use the heels of your hands to flatten the round
into a rough rectangle after the first rise. If the dough is sticking to the counter, sprinkle a
little flour underneath. or flour your palms.
- Use your fingers to pinch the dough
closed where the top layer meets the bottom layers. Don’t forget the sides!
- If you are shaping a loaf, then shape to get the surface of the
loaf as taut as possible. This will help the loaf rise evenly and keep its
shape. If your loaf still seems a little loose after the initial folding, just
fold it in half again and pinch it closed. We do this by pressing the middle
down and bringing up the sides.
- Roll the loaf over until the seam is
facing down and then gently lift the loaf into your pan. The seams should be on
the bottom with the tight surface facing up.
- The loaf is ready to bake when it starts
to rise over the rim of the pan. Slash the top with a serrated knife so that it rises evenly .
Note the inside of the roll is so soft and fluffy. That is the right texture we want.
I made a small loaf as well as some rolls too. Some pics of the small loaf that I baked.