When I knew I was going to be leaving work, I pictured myself making fresh bread every day in my spotless house, and then following this up with some recipe development, laid-back food photography and writing – all whilst maturely sipping on espressos and congratulating myself on my gastronomic inventions.
Sooooo here’s a picture of a cheese sandwich.
Ok, it may not knock Heston’s socks off, but it is actually a really really good cheese sandwich. It’s all the tastier for being served up on these homemade ale rolls that I got from Paul Hollwood’s ‘How to bake’ book.
I’ve been a little bit lax on the bread making front for a while. There’s certainly been no daily bread making (and definitely no spotless house – with the kids off for their summer holidays). There still aren’t enough hours in the day to even keep on top of the hoovering. I’m sure I’ll get there eventually…..
I have managed to make these tasty rolls a few times though, and they never fail to impress – with their wholesome, malty flavour, their crusty exterior and fluffy interior.
I used some old fashioned English ale that we picked up from a local brewery, but any good-quality, traditional ale will do the job. The flour is a mix of your normal strong white bread flour, and also some strong wholemeal flour. The combination of the ale and the wholemeal heartiness means these rolls go perfectly with a Ploughmans lunch, or even with a thick stew or soup.
I’ve gone for the simple ploughman’s sandwich here: Layerings of baby spinach, mature cheddar cheese, apple & plum chutney, and tangy apple chunks (I use Jazz apple – my absolute favourite). This combination is a complete winner!
- 400g strong white bread flour, plus a handful more for dusting the rolls before they go into the oven
- 100g strong wholemeal flour
- 10g salt
- 10g instant yeast
- 30g unsalted butter, softened
- 300ml flavoursome, good-quality ale
- Olive oil for kneading
- For the sandwich filling:
- Baby spinach leaves
- Mature Cheddar cheese
- Chutney of your choice (I used plum & apple)
- Apple chunks from a tangy, crunchy apple variety
- Place the flour in a large bowl. Add the salt to one side of the bowl, and the instant yeast to the other side (yeast and salt don’t like to be in direct contact). Add in the butter and about three quarters of the ale. Mix the dough together with one hand. Add in more ale, a bit at a time until you’ve picked up all the flour from the sides of the bowl and you have a soft (but not really sticky) dough. You may not need all the ale.
- Lightly oil your work surface with a little olive oil, then turn your dough out onto the surface and knead for 5-10 minutes. It will be a bit sticky at first, but will eventually get smoother. Clean and dry your bowl, wipe it with a little olive oil and place your dough in the bowl. Cover with clingfilm and then place in a warm room for 1-2 hours to prove - until the dough has doubled in size.
- Line 2 baking trays with baking parchment
- Once the dough has proved, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knock the air back out of it by folding it in on itself repeatedly. Divide the dough into 14 pieces. You can do this by eye, or if you want perfectly even bread, weigh it out. Each piece should be 60g. Roll each piece into a ball - making sure the top is smooth for each. I usually roll each ball and then tuck any messy bits underneath. Place one ball into the centre of each prepared baking tray and then space the other 6 rolls around the centre roll. They need to be close together, but not quite touching (they'll expand during the next rise and during baking). So you should have 7 rolls on each tray, basically in the shape of a flower - as in the picture above. Place each tray inside a large carrier bag and leave to prove for another hour.
- Preheat your oven to 200c just before your dough has finished proving. Next, take the trays out of the bags and dust the rolls lightly with some white flour. Give each of the outside rolls 3 little snips with a pair of scissors (look at the picture to see the positioning). Place the rolls in the oven and bake for 30 minutes until the rolls are golden, and they sound hollow if you tap them from underneath.
- Take out of the oven, and leave to cool before filling.
*If you're going to make this sandwich in advance, I'd recommend squirting a little bit of lemon juice onto your apple chunks to stop them from going brown