Soft floury baps are the comfort food of bread rolls. A little squidgy and very doughy; when sliced, they open up like a friendly hippopotamus. Insert bacon or burger here.
Baps - the forgotten bread rolls
Soft white baps are certainly out of fashion at the moment. Everyone wants crusty bread, not to mention sourdough, long fermentation and gluten free flour. Full of whole grain, bran and goodness breads are cherished, plain white subs, rolls or baps are in decline.
But apart from the fact that wholemeal bread is better for your gut, a homemade bread roll even if completely white, soft and pillowy, will still be better for you than anything from the supermarket bread shelf.
Just check the list of ingredients: if there’s anything you wouldn’t ever keep in your store cupboard, be sure it’s not very healthy.
Baps have fallen from grace - unfairly so! Because apparently the ultimate bacon butty should be housed in an old-fashioned bap. I can easily understand that even though I'm the dedicated consumer of eggs at breakfast, not bacon or sausages.
Baps are comfortingly squidgy, sticking to the roof of your mouth a little, providing a soft floury pillow for the crispy bacon. A slice of tomato on top of the bacon, to leak juices down your chin, and your breakfast is bliss.
Burgers in baps
And, surprise, surprise, baps are the perfect housing for burgers as well – I’m telling you, stuff the little sesame buns.
A bap will embrace your burger, mop up the juices and let you consume it in the time-honoured tradition: ditching silly knives and forks and grabbing the burger in your hand.
And if you shape your baps smaller, they will make perfect soft dinner rolls.
How to make baps
First sponge, the starter dough, which can easily be made the night before and ferment in the fridge overnight.
As the sourdough tribe have persuaded us, the longer fermenting, the better the flavour. Plus, the overnight fermenting in the fridge is amusingly called ‘cold retard’.
Then the main dough is worked with more flour, sugar, liquid (milk or water) and some fat. Goose fat, lard or beef drippings are a classic but butter, which is what I use, will function well too.
So yes, it is quite rich dough but that's what makes it so tasty. The video below shows exactly how to make them.
How long does it take to make and bake baps?
Baking bread over two or more days has the advantage of giving the dough a longer fermentation and so a better flavour, as we already know. But it also takes away the stress and the commitment of spending half the day mixing, kneading and watching the dough rise.
Timing in bread-making
When it comes to actual bread-making activity, I expect these baps require no more than half an hour's hands-on labour. Except it's stretched over in between proving, fermenting, rising, proving again and baking.
Every time I need to indicate the time a bread making recipe takes, I'm conflicted: is it the overall time? Is it the active prep? The longest maximum or the shortest minimum?
That's why I usually go for overall time indication, which might daunt a less experienced baker who doesn’t realise there’s about a tenth of actual working time in it. But that’s better than an empty promise of bread ready in half an hour isn’t it?
The recipe is courtesy of Dan Lepard and his book, ‘Short and Sweet’ which has served me incredibly well over the years.
More bread rolls recipes
Just as soft and fluffy as baps but even richer: bridge rolls, the ultimate dinner roll.
You can happily use baps to encase a burger but if you insist on a dedicated bun, here are proper burger buns.
And yet more bountiful brioche buns, made from versatile enriched bread dough. Also good for burgers.
More white bread recipes
Pain de mie, the ultimate sandwich loaf, should be baked in a lidded Pullman tin.
Hokkaido milk bread is the soft and wonderful Japanese loaf. Also comes in bread roll version.
And the best known Jewish traditional challah bread, with the characteristic plait and glossy egg wash glaze.