Oats. They're one of my favourite grains. I adore porridge on a cold, wintery (or spring) morning, and muesli and granola come into play in the summer. All the oats. They are extremely good for you, with a soluble kind of fibre that apparently scrubs away all the cholesterol that might be clogging up your arteries.
And it makes wonderful bread rolls. Honestly, the crust and crumb are soft, but with a bit of texture from the oats, perfect to have with soup, or as a breakfast roll, with a couple of salty slices of bacon tucked inside with some ketchup (sorry, brown sauce fans. I can't allow you to have my lovely rolls, unless you move over to the Side of Light and have ketchup. The Dark Side has no fans here).
I've made them a couple of times now, pushing up the amount of oats. The following seems to be my optimum, but feel free to play around with the recipe with more or less oats, adjusting the amount of flour to make up the same overall weight of dry goods.
I use a Kenwood Chef stand mixer, and the instructions are for that, but, of course, you can simply mix and knead by hand. If you do that, I suggest that you follow Dan Lepard's method for short, sharp kneads, as it is the most muscle-friendly, effective method I know. I found this lovely video about Dan's ethos and method on YouTube: do watch it if you have time.
So here we go, this is how I make my Porridge Rolls.
100g rolled oats (ordinary ones for preference, not jumbo oats.)
250g boiling water
10g fresh yeast, (or 1 x 7g packet of instant dried yeast )
2 tablespoons tepid water
1 tsp honey
1 egg (size doesn't really matter)
100g Light Brown self raising flour (I like Marriage's)
180g strong white flour
1 tsp fine salt
Optional: flour for tops, or egg wash (1 egg and a little water, whisked together) and poppy or sesame seeds or a mixture of both)
Put the rolled oats and salt in a small bowl and cover with the boiling water. Leave to sit for 10- 15, minutes, giving it a stir from time to time.
Meanwhile, mix the fresh yeast, honey and tepid water together in a small bowl and leave to get slightly frothy. (If you are using instant dried yeast, then omit this step, you will add the yeast to the flour. In which case, mix the honey and extra water into the oats)
After 10-15 mins, check that you can comfortably stick a finger into the middle of the oats. If not, then leave a little bit longer. Once they are nicely at blood temperature, dump the oats into the bowl of a stand mixer and using a wooden spoon, mix the egg and yeast mixture (if using fresh yeast) into the oats (this is easier than trying to do it with the dough hook).
Add the flours, and the yeast if you are using instant dried yeast, and mix on a low speed using the dough hook until it all clumps together. Cover the bowl and leave it for 20 mins so that everything can fully hydrate and the gluten start to activate.
Mix for 4 minutes on speed 2. The dough should clear the bottom of the bowl, but still be quite soft. If it looks a little dry add a little more water.
Transfer the dough to a bowl with a spoonful of olive oil in the base, and turn the dough over in the oil, tucking in the edges. Cover with cling film or a clean shower cap. Leave to prove in a warm place for around 40-60 minutes until at least doubled in size.
Turn out onto a floured board, and using a bench scraper cut the dough into 12 pieces. Lightly flatten and pre-form these pieces into rounds and leave for 5 minutes before shaping again into round rolls. I like to turn each piece upside down, flatten lightly and fold in from the four sides to the middle. Then turn over so the smooth side is uppermost again, and, making a cup of your hand onto the worktop, rotate each ball lightly inside the palm of your hand to tighten the sides and make a perfect round roll.
Place a piece of parchment paper onto a large baking sheet, flour it lightly, and space your rolls out on the sheet. How far apart you put them will depend on whether you like a kissing crust (I do) or prefer your rolls baked on all sides. For joined together rolls, you want about an inch apart, for separate rolls around 2 ins. Flour the tops quite thickly ( or leave them plain if you plan to egg wash and sprinkle with seeds later) , and cover lightly with cling film.
Now is the time to turn your oven on as hot as it can get, and to put a cast iron pan in the bottom of the oven to heat up. Put the kettle on as well.
Allow the rolls to prove for around 25 mins until roughly double in size. If you want to brush with egg wash and sprinkle with seeds now is the time to do it.
Reduce the oven heat to Gas Mk 7 Electric 425F / 220C
If you are making floury rolls, shake a little more flour on the tops if they have lost some flour to the cling film. Tip a coffee cup of boiling water onto the cast iron pan (I use a Le Creuset griddle pan, you can use whatever you have. If you don't have any cast iron, just use a small baking pan. The cast iron just keeps the steam longer,) and quickly slide the rolls into the oven.
Bake for 10 mins then open the oven and let any residual steam out. Bake for a further 5-8 minutes until nicely brown on the underside. Give them a few minutes more if they seem a bit pallid, but don't cook for longer than 20 minutes in total.
Take the rolls off the parchment as soon as they are baked, and cool on a wire rack.
I hope you enjoy these porridge rolls as much as I do. Let me know what you think!