Sometimes, when I am baking bread for the family, only an uncomplicated batch of soft white rolls (that will all be scoffed on the same day) will do. Made with plain flour and enriched with milk and lard (or if you prefer, butter), these Huffkins absolutely fit the bill, providing a rich teatime treat – with a lovely soft crust that my kids especially enjoy. I love experimenting with regional recipes for bakes that you are never going to see in the local supermarket – one of my favourite books is Elizabeth David’s Bread and Yeast Cookery and I get all sorts of ideas of bread recipes to try from there, but this recipe is based on one from The Dairy Book of Home Cookery, a great book that was a stalwart of my mum’s recipe book collection. These large soft rolls are delicious with jam (I especially like them with my strawberry and rhubarb preserve), with honey, or they make a fabulous bacon or sausage sandwich for a very hearty lunch.
It is a bit tedious to boil the milk then leave it to cool, but I am an aficionado of Dan Lepard, who argues that this produces a lighter crumb. Plain flour is used rather than strong flour, which gives the cake its slightly cakey texture – but it also means that the bread won’t keep terribly well. If you don’t eat them on the first day, then freeze the left-overs. When you want to use them, defrost, then warm through gently in the oven, wrapped in foil. You might not keep that soft crust, but it will still be really tasty!
- 15g fresh yeast or 1.5 tsp dried yeast & pinch of sugar
- 100ml water
- 125ml milk
- 450g plain flour
- 1tsp salt
- 2tsp sugar
- 50g lard or butter, diced, at room temperature
- Boil the milk in a small pan, then add the water. When this mixture is lukewarm, blend in the fresh yeast. For dried yeast, sprinkle it into milk & water with a pinch of sugar & leave for 10-15 mins until it’s frothy. If you are using fast action dried yeast, just throw it in with the flour.
- Put flour, salt & sugar in a bowl, then add the lard or butter & rub in. You can either do this with your fingertips, blitz it in a food processor, or use the K-beater on your stand mixer.
- Make a well in the centre of the flour & add the milk & yeast mixture. Beat well together. You want to end up with a dough that leaves the sides of your bowl clean.
- Turn out on to a floured surface & knead well for 10 minutes, until you’ve got a dough that’s smooth & elastic. Or you can use your stand mixer of course.
- Put it in the bowl, cover the bowl with a polythene bag & leave it somewhere warm for an hour or so, until it’s doubled in size. Because it’s an enriched dough, it might struggle to get going, so find a nice warm place, and don’t rush the first rise.
- Take it out of the bowl & knead gently for 3-5 mins until it’s smooth.
- Divide the dough into 4 pieces and shape into long flat ovals. Place on an flat baking tray on a piece of baking parchment, cover loosely with a polythene bag & leave somewhere warm until the dough has doubled in size. You can test when the dough has finished proving by poking it a little with your finger. If the dough springs back immediately, it still has some proving to do, but if it only slowly comes back, then it is ready for the oven. The risen rolls should look like this – with quite a bubbly surface:
- Pre-heat the oven to 220C (gas mark 7) at what you think is about half way through the proving time. I turn my oven on after about 15 minutes into the second rise.
- Make indentations in the middle of the rolls with your thumb, and then bake at 220C (gas 7) for 20-25 minutes until the rolls are golden brown.
- Wrap in a tea towel and allow to cool – this will give the rolls a nice soft crust.