It's a glorious spring day outside, just warm enough to sit in the sun and soak up some much-needed rays after a long, cold winter. Today's luncheon was a real Scandi-nostalgia-fest: fresh wholemeal bread rolls like the ones I grew up with in Norway, topped with Swedish 'kaviar' from a tube (sounds gross, tastes heavenly. Scandies know what I'm talking about) and a soft-boiled egg. Delicious and nutritious. Not to mention thrifty.
Having raided the Scandinavian Kitchen of its fresh yeast supply last week (well, nearly all of it) and after the success of Friday's hot cross buns * I decided to make these spelt rolls. It defeats me why fresh yeast isn't readily available in supermarkets here. I once got a tip that the Sainsburys on Cromwell Road in west London sells fresh yeast, so off I went to buy some. This transpired to be the most absurd exercise in subterfuge and hushed voices I've encountered in a supermarket. When I asked for 50g of fresh yeast, the baker (I use baker in the most elastic sense of the word) questioned why I needed it - "erm, to bake bread," I replied. Not good enough apparently, the man proceeded to interrogate me on why I was really procuring fresh yeast, much to the bemusement of fellow shoppers who viewed me as some sort of reprobate.
Anyway, good luck trying to buy fresh yeast in central London. I hear you can score some from bakers (real bakers that is) but it seems ridiculous one can't buy the stuff in a local supermarket, the way we can in Scandiland. Does the lack of locally available fresh yeast suggest Brits don't bake with yeast that much? Or are we Scandies just peculiar in our habits? Probably a bit of both.
Back to the bread though - this is a delightfully easy recipe and the breadrolls are a welcome change from the giant loaves of bread I've been baking recently...rolls freeze well and only require 5-10 minutes reheating in a 150C oven so it's worth making a large batch if you have the time and inclination to do so. And the fresh yeast imparts a much more mellow flavour than dried yeast, so worth hunting down if you care about such matters.
This recipe makes 12 medium rolls
- 500g wholemeal spelt flour
- 300ml cold water
- 12g fresh yeast
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 heaping tsp sugar
Mix the yeast and sugar in a small bowl, to see if the yeast is active. It should dissolve and look foamy.
In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt and make a well in the centre. Tip the yeast, oil and water into this and beat with a wooden spoon for 5 minutes. No kneading required, you just have to bring the dough together.
When the dough is thoroughly mixed and looking a little bit bouncy (give it a poke!) place some oiled clingfilm over the top and then refrigerate overnight.
The next day, take the dough out - it should have doubled in size - and knock back. Lightly oil a 12x small muffin tray. Make little even-sized buns by rolling them between your hands - it helps if your hands are wet, that way the dough won't stick to you...place each bun in a muffin hole and then cover again with oiled clingfilm and allow to double in size in a warm place.
Preheat oven to 220C, and place the muffin tray on the upper shelf of the oven. Bake for 5 minutes, then turn down the heat to 200C.
You can of course glaze the buns, add seeds, nuts, etc. before baking but I kept these simple because I am a lazy slug.
* see the facebook page of Beyond Baked Beans under 'notes' from April 3rd.