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Bridge rolls are the ultimate dinner rolls. It's what you get served with silver tongs by a tail-coated waiter, after he'd lovingly draped your cloth napkin over your knees.
White bread is a guilty pleasure. For a lot of us BREAD is a guilty pleasure too, but at least we can reassure ourselves that bakery goods that are wholemeal, contain bran or whole grains, plenty of seeds and are made from coarse and unbleached flour are the lesser evil.
But every now and then we get a craving for something fluffy and soft, rich and almost brioche-like. Something to go with a really velvety carrot or tomato soup, or with delicate pate, or lovely ham and a slice of cheese and some pickles. And why on Earth should we not if it’s only now and then?
This is exactly the thing: fluffy and light, with smooth thin crust, soft and spongy, buttery and rich. They are called bridge rolls because they rise and bake to stick to one another, side by side. But just in case you won’t manage to achieve the bridging factor, they can also be called finger rolls and that accommodates the potential shape failure.
They are on the other end of the bread spectrum from earthy, sensible sourdough which ferments to gain flavour. Bridge rolls cheat: they have eggs, milk and butter as aides but on the plus side, they are ready within a couple of hours.
You can make them a bit bigger if you like, or smaller than below and they’ll be dainty, soft, lovely and rewarding. They’ll happily make ham and cheese rolls. They can take on bacon and tomato. Fantastic lobster rolls, or failing that, some cooked fresh prawns, a little mayo, a dot of ketchup, a slice or two of cucumber. They’ll go with soup. With butter and jam. Made into a bread pudding in the unlikely situation where you have some going slightly stale.
It’s a recipe adapted from ‘Bread Machine Kitchen Handbook’ by Jennie Shapter.
bridge rollsServings: makes 12 rollsTime: about 3 hours
- 200ml warm milk
- 450g white bread flour
- 1½ tsp fast action yeast or 15g fresh yeast
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 100g butter, softened
- 2 eggs
1. Warm up the milk to body temperature (check with your finger). Place the flour, yeast, salt, sugar, butter and eggs in the bowl of a standing mixer with a dough hook attachment (or in a large bowl if using the hand held mixer, or in the bread machine pan). Add the milk and mix for about 10 minutes until the dough forms a ball that bounces off the sides of the bowl and doesn’t stick. Leave it to prove for an hour in a warm place until doubled in size.
2. Divide it into 12 pieces and shape into rolls: flatten each piece of dough and roll it up tightly into a cigar shape. Place the rolls on baking sheets lined with parchment, four in a row, pretty close together. Place the trays in plastic bags inflated a bit so it doesn’t touch the dough (just blow into it and tie the end!) and leave for about an hour.
3. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/gas 7.
4. When they’ve almost doubled in size or at least puffed up considerably, place the trays in the oven and bake for 15 minutes until golden coloured. If they have stuck together, tear them apart – and have at least one warm.