Instant Italian Crusty Bread Rolls
The vast number of bakeries in Israel is rivaled only by hair salons with seemingly one of each on every street. Given the plethora of baked goods available, you'd think it would be easy to get your hands on crusty, Italian-style bread rolls, but this is sadly untrue. Instead, locally made bread rolls and French loaves are consistently over-sweet and insubstantial, with a chewing gum-like texture and entirely unremarkable taste. What if I told you that, in the time it took you to read this recipe introduction, you could have mixed up a batch of of artisan Italian rolls, or country-style, craggy loaf? Don't believe me? I threw together a batch last night especially so that I could deliver pictorial proof of each, laughably quick and easy step. Be sure to see images shown. Altogether, you're probably looking at 90 seconds of preparation, a total cost of under NIS 3 per batch, and the immense satisfaction of producing crusty bread unlike anything you can buy. What are you waiting for....a homemade taste of Italy awaits!
4 cups plain flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp dried instant yeast*
2 cups water
Flour, extra for shaping the rolls
* Sold in baking departments in a vacuum-packed foil wrapper. I personally use Bravo, but whatever you can find will work.
Mix flour, salt and yeast granules together in a deep bowl, make a well in the center, and pour in tap water.
Mix with a wooden spoon until all the flour is incorporated.
Cover with plastic and leave on the kitchen counter for 10 to 12 hours.
Dough will be very sticky and shiny with bubbles on the surface. Pour extra flour onto a board, scrape dough onto it, and turn in the flour a few times to make it more dough-like and easier to work with.
Using a knife, cut dough into 8 equally sized pieces, and shape each piece into a rough ball with floured hands. Don't overwork it as they aren't meant to be all round and perfect.(You also have the option of leaving dough in a log to make a craggy Italian loaf instead of rolls.)
Allow balls to rise for 20 minutes then bake at 200 C. Cook for 15 minutes then rotate pan and cook another 5 minutes till lightly golden.
While the recipe may look long, because of all the detail, it really does take just seconds to put together.
The long rising time makes it ideal for quickly mixing up at night and baking in the morning - as I did today - or mixing in the morning and baking for dinner.
If you want your rolls to test really fresh from the oven when serving, you can take them out of the oven 5 minutes early and simply put back into the oven for the last 5 minutes immediately before serving. You can also take them out at this stage and freeze them and continue baking for perfectly fresh dinner rolls up to weeks later.