23 February 2015

Solar powered bread rolls

I'm building up to a post about our new photo-voltaic panels, lovely things that they are.

In the meantime, here are the details of some Very Good bread rolls I make quite regularly. Recently the rising and baking of these rolls in this house has been powered exclusively by the sun. I reckon that's so green that I might as well be hand-stitching a quilt of rabbit pelts harvested from my backyard rabbit farm. If I had one.

When I bake these I feel like Ma on Little House on the Prairie in her hand-built cabin, or maybe Milly Molly Mandy's Mother, sheltered by her thatched roof. How those women would have loved my breadmaker*! Not only would they have hand-kneaded their bread, but they would have had to light a fire to bake it, even in mid-summer. My weak arm muscles quiver at the thought.

This dough is actually a pizza base recipe from my friend of nearly 30 years, Sandra. (Sandra, how old we are growing!) The original uses all white flour and is definitely my favourite pizza base, too.

Solar Bread Rolls

(Of course you don't need solar power or a bread maker to make these; I am not that demanding.)
This takes about 15 minutes total effort with a breadmaker* (three bouts of five minutes). If you start at 10 am they'll be freshly baked for lunch.

1 3/4 tsp active dried yeast (not the breadmaker sort)
1 tsp salt
1-2 tsp sugar
3 3/4 cups of flour (making it as wholemealy as my family will tolerate, I use about 2 1/2 cups of wholemeal flour and the rest plain white)
1/4 c olive oil
1 1/3 cups water

You know, don't you, that the ratio of flour to water is crucial to making good bread? Therefore, you need to measure those ingredients carefully. Everything else you can be somewhat gung-ho with.

Place everything in a breadmaker* and mix on the fastest dough cycle. I have a Panasonic breadmaker with a pizza dough cycle that takes 45 minutes. Alternatively, mix it all together by hand, knead for 10 minutes and leave to rise in a warm place for 45 minutes or so.

Shape into balls with floured hands. Dip each ball into white flour to lightly coat it before sitting it on an aluminium baking tray. The flour coating stops the rolls sticking to the baking tray, making for an easy clean up. It's also very pleasing to the mouth.

Cover the dough balls and tray with a clean tea towel and place somewhere warm in direct sunlight: a sunny concrete patio or deck, a barbeque or even a trampoline all work well. Give strict instructions to the children if it's the latter. If it's not a verywarm day, place in an oven at 40oC.

After an hour or so the rolls will have risen beautifully. Remove the tea towel and place the tray in a 190oC oven. You can either preheat the oven, or put the tray directly in there as you turn it on. They should be baked within 10 minutes of it reaching full temperature.

These are good the same day and okay the next. After that they're chicken food, or you could freeze them ready to split and fill with garlicky/herby butter for when you want garlic bread.

*For a rave review about the gourmet and bank-account-flourishing benefits of owning a breadmaker, have a look at this post on my new favourite blog, Mr Money Mustache.


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