Baking the Perfect Bread Roll


The bread roll is one of the great mysteries of our time. It is well-loved, consumed everywhere all the time for any occasion. It comes in all different styles and tastes, sometimes sweet with cinnamon and sugar on top eaten dry, salty, with poppy, sesame, or sunflower seeds to be consumed with cheese or butter, or plain and dry adding a rustic magnificence to any bowl of soup. Instead of attempting to rediscover its creation, we settle for the lesser bread lumps of mass-producing corporations or the flawed processes of the soulless unskilled low-wage baker. Hell, even a bread machine and bread cloche do a better job!

The homemade roll, made with simple ingredients and the human hand rather than a machine reveals an eating experience previously unknown to the American fast-food culture. The perfect roll is made by the following process.

First pour four cups of flour into a large bowl. Add one tablespoon of high gluten flour, which will cause your rolls to rise more and become softer. Fill a cup with warm water and dissolve in it two teaspoons of yeast along with a tablespoon of sugar to help the yeast. Add the mixture to the flour, mix it up a little bit, and presently add two teaspoons of salt. Knead the mixture into a dough until it no longer feels lumpy, this might take about 20 minutes. Add water as necessary to form it into a uniform mass. If too much water is added it gets sludgy and sticky, the remedy to which is more flour. When the dough is ready heat the oven to 200 degrees. When it’s hot turn it off and place the dough inside, cover the bowl with a washcloth or towel to avoid drying out the dough too much.

Let the dough rise for 20-30 minutes until it reaches about twice its original size. Then remove the dough and stretch it lengthwise to allow for easier portioning. Do not knead it. Cut the dough into 10 equal pieces and form the rolls. In order to get a thin tasty crust on your roll instead of a half-inch rock layer, you must form the roll by taking the piece of dough and stretching one surface into a smooth layer tucking the sides underneath. Place the rolls on a cookie sheet and flatten them slightly with your palm. Mix a raw egg and a very small amount of water in a cup and use a brush to apply it to the rolls.

This will give them a golden-brown crust and act as an adhesive for anything you would like to put on them. Quickly sprinkle poppy seeds, sesame seeds, garlic, cheese, salt, sugar, or any other desired topping onto the rolls and press them onto the roll lightly with your palm to increase the surface area connected to the egg. Lastly, deliver one or two cuts across the top of each roll with a sharp bread knife for aesthetic purposes and place them in the oven. Heat the oven to 200 degrees again and let the rolls rise for ten minutes before bumping the temperature up to 400 to bake them for 10-15 minutes or until they are golden brown. The end result should have a delicious thin crust covering a soft, fluffy, steaming interior.

The ultimate roll is more than simply ingredients mashed together and baked for a specified time. A truly perfect roll can only be created at home, by hand, with love and patience.

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