The trouble with loaves of bread is they’re so, well loaf-shaped. Which is all fine and dandy if you have 4 people round to dinner, or are planning on eating bread for lunch and dinner two or three days running. But if you just want a couple of slices of fresh bread, you’re then stuck with the rest of the loaf. Of course, there are plenty of possibilities then, not least slicing and freezing, or turning it into breadcrumbs (though I’m starting to see more gf breadcrumbs in supermarkets these days, and tend to think that making a loaf just to turn it into breadcrumbs is a leetle bit of a wasted effort). In short though, sometimes you want your bread to be another shape. Roll-shaped, for example.
On the whole I find bread rolls more versatile. Because they’re smaller they tend to have a little more strength to them; these are the suckers to use if you want to make a ham and tomato sandwich one evening, ready for your lunch the next day. While bread might soak up the tomato juice and collapse a little before you have time to eat it, these rude boys will give you all the support you need. They have a higher crispy crust to light interior ratio and thus are a little more hard-wearing. And they are very easy to “refresh” in the microwave a couple of days later, to bring them back to that just-baked texture. (As an aside, does anyone else get really funny looks preparing their lunch at work? Apparently normal people don’t microwave their sandwiches before eating them.)
One final plus is these are even quicker to prepare than a loaf of bread, taking less time to prove, and considerably less time in the oven as well. Bonus.
Adapted from Easy Gluten-Free Baking
1 3/4 cups (440ml) warm milk (about 40 C, no hotter)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large egg
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 cups (500g) gluten-free flour blend
1 tablespoon xanthan gum
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1. Measure out the milk into a small bowl. Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds, until warm. Whisk in the yeast, vegetable oil and egg, until yeast is dissolved. Leave to sit for a few minutes while you measure out dry ingredients.
2. In a large bowl mix together the flour blend, xanthan gum, sugar and salt. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry mix and stir with a spatula until well mixed. Continue stirring for a couple more minutes, and the mixture will come together into a more cohesive mass.
3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (makes for much easier cleaning up) and spoon out the mixture into rounds about 3-4 inches wide onto the parchment. Leave a couple of inches between each roll to allow for expansion. Cover the baking tray with a tea towel (Barbone suggests using clingfilm, but I couldn’t get it to behave with all the parchment in the way) and leave in a warm place to rise for 45 minutes to an hour and a half, depending on just how warm your kitchen is.
4. Preheat the oven to 170 C and once the buns have doubled in size pop them in the oven for 20 minutes. After 15 minutes I turned up the heat on my oven to 190 C in an attempt to brown them a little more on top. As the photo shows, it didn’t work spectacularly well, perhaps because I reduced the sugar in the rolls slightly? But gf baked goods don’t tend to go as golden as their gluten-full counterparts anyway.
5. Remove from oven and leave to cool just enough that you don’t burn your tongue.
Makes 9 medium-sized rolls. Next time I might try brushing the tops with milk before putting the rolls in the oven, to see if they would brown a little more that way.