Oops! Perhaps you’re having soup, and you’d like to have a little something to go along side. A piece of bread would be perfect, but it’s close to dinner time, and there’s no bread in the house. There’s just no way you could get bread in time. Or maybe, like us, it was getting close to lunch and you thought a great lunch would be a bit of cheese and bread, followed by a piece of fruit, but all the bread is gone and baking day isn’t until tomorrow.
That is exactly the situation we found ourselves in last week. We wanted a bit of bread to go along with a few slices of cheese, but we’d eaten all the bread in the house. As long-time readers know, we don’t really buy bread, at least not at the store, because it’s just plain awful — and we don’t mean the word awful in the original sense of filling us with awe, either. That meant we had two choices, either forgo the cheese and bread, or make a quick bread. We settled on the latter.
If you look closely, this recipe is none other than the recipe for Rory’s Scones, changed to use whole-wheat flour. We thought that whole-wheat flour would work well, because you don’t want to develop the gluten for the scones, and it takes a lot of kneading to develop the gluten if you’re using whole-wheat.
The buttermilk is here to provide an acid (it’s slightly sour, right? That’s the acid) to react with the baking soda and make the bread rise. Regular milk won’t work. We use our home-scratched buttermilk. It’s easy to make, and we always have some on hand. We choose whole-wheat flour to make these a bit healthier and for the flavor, but they’ll be denser and heavier than if you used all-purpose flour. You could do a mix of flours, too. It would work.
Procedure in detail:
Prep. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place a rack in the center of the oven, and line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or piece of parchment. Lining the baking sheet will keep the rolls from sticking and make cleanup a lot easier.
Mix drys. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt and sugar. Give everything a few good swishes with a spoon, then make a well in the center of the flour mixture.
Add buttermilk. Pour the buttermilk into the center and stir just until the buttermilk is incorporated and a dough forms. Don’t work the dough at all, just mix until you have a dough.
Shape and cut. Scrape the dough out onto the prepared baking sheet and shape into a rough rectangle about 3/4 inch thick. We use a plastic dough scraper for this, but hands dusted in flour will work, too. Once you have a rectangle, cut it into squares about an inch on a side, and use the dough scraper, or a knife, to separate the rolls from one another by just a bit, say 1/8 inch.
Bake. Slide the rolls into the oven and bake for about 18 minutes, turning the sheet from front to back halfway through.
Serve immediately. These little quick rolls will go stale in two shakes of a lamb’s tail, so get them out onto the table immediately after they come out of the oven. Just wear an oven mitt and break the rolls apart, and put on a plate.
Great flavor, and so easy. These are a perfect start for those people who say it’s too hard to make fresh breads at home. It takes all of five minutes to make the dough, and less than 20 to bake, so, in under 30 minutes, you can have fresh hot, craggy, whole-wheat rolls that you scratched yourself. Are they as good as home-scratched bread? Of course not. But these little rolls will stand you in good stead when you want a hot roll right out of the oven, but don’t have the time for something more elaborate. And they’ll be perfect for dipping into a steaming bowl of soup. Or perhaps with a slice of cheese, or even a bit of butter. Five stars for simplicity.