I’ve talked about Andrew Whitley’s book, Bread Matters, and the influence it has had on my baking before. For years I tried and failed to make sourdough bread, but Whitley’s book sorted it all out for me and made it simple. He taught me how to maintain a sourdough starter without any hassle or stress, so that sourdough loaves and sourdough pancakes are mine whenever I want them (well, within a few hours anyway). Whitley has devoted himself to bringing better bread to everyone – you can read more about his campaign on the Bread Matters website – and I heartily recommend that you buy his excellent book.
Besides conquering sourdough, the other thing that Bread Matters gave me was the this fantastic, fool-proof recipe for baps. I’m sharing it here because I think the world needs more foolproof bread recipes… ’Bap’ is one of those regional UK words that people get into rows about in the pub… Some people might call these rolls, or cobs, or even barm cakes (although these aren’t quite the authentic shape of a barm cake. By bap, I mean a small round bread bun that you would use for a burger or a sandwich – hope we’ve got that straight! This recipe makes 12, soft, delicious, wholesome little buns. The only difference between my version and the version in the book is that I use dried yeast rather than fresh and I add some white flour. Sometimes I use 100% wholemeal spelt – this makes delicious baps, but you might find that they rise a bit quicker, so keep an eye on them if you try spelt.
5g dried yeast (granules or fast action kind – see method for more info on their use)
390g warm water
300g strong wholemeal flour
300g strong white flour
5g sea salt
30g fat (olive oil, butter, lard)
- For dried yeast granules: Measure the water into a jug or small bowl and then add the yeast and stir to dissolve. Omit this stage if using fast action dried yeast.
- Measure the flour into large mixing bowl (or bowl of your kitchen mixer), if you are using fast action dried yeast, add it to the flour and stir to combine. Stir in the salt and the fat.
- Add the yeast dissolved in water (or just the water if you are using fast action yeast).
- At this stage I now just use the dough hook on my Kenwood mixer to combine and do the kneading for me. If you are doing it by hand you need to combine all the ingredients in the bowl and then turn out on to your worktop (don’t flour it!) and knead until you have a soft, pliable and slightly stretchy dough (there’s lots more about good kneading in Whitley’s book!).
- Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and leave the bowl somewhere warm until the dough has doubled in size.
- Put your oven on to preheat to 230C.
- Divide the dough into 12 even(ish) sized pieces and mould them into bun shapes, trying to create a nice taut domed top. Dust each bun thoroughly with flour (or dip each bun in a small bowl of flour) – it’s this that gives the buns their lovely soft crust.
- Arrange the buns on a baking tray and put the whole tray in a large carrier bag. Leave somewhere warm until the baps have doubled in size and batched - i.e. they’re snuggled up next to each other on the baking tray like this:
- Now bake the baps for 5 minutes at 230C, then turn down the temp to 210C and bake for another 5-7 minutes until the baps are golden brown.
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
I enjoyed mine this lunchtime with a lump of Ticklemore cheese, some homemade apple chutney, and a bottle of very good beer from the George Wright Brewery. Definitely my idea of an excellent Saturday lunch.
Hope you had a great Saturday lunch too!