The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Introduction and French rolls

JohnMich's picture

Introduction and French rolls

Hi all! I'm a 72 year old retired accountant/finance manager who lives on The Gold Coast, Queensland ( beautiful one day, perfect the next!) I found this web site while looking for a recipe for French bread rolls and somehow got embroiled in a discussion about Cornish pasties and meat pies. What an active forum! For a few days there my inbox was stuffed with mail about these things - brilliant.

Anyway I am still looking for a recipe for rolls that have a soft almost silky texture that I always associate, maybe wrongly, with French bread. I now know what crumb means so I can tell you that the crumb I am looking for does not look like the full of holes plastic sponge we use to wipe the sink that seems so popular but as I said soft, silky, no holes. Could someone point me in the right direction please

Many regards, John

PaddyL's picture

What's the crust like?  Soft or crisp or crunchy or hard?  To have a soft, silky interior, I would think you'd have to use milk or buttermilk or eggs and they would certainly not give you a crispy crust.

JohnMich's picture

G'day Paddy. Good day Wednesday?

The crust on the ones I recall best were mildly crisp and generally from Vietnamese bakeries in Sydney - the Viets having been taught by the French of course.

Most of the rolls I've tried these days seem to be just bread dough formed up smaller and not what I think a roll should be at all.

Regards, John

halfrice's picture

From what I've read, baguettes in Vietnamese bakeries have rice flour incorporated to give it that crispness but I'm not sure about the proportion.

jennyloh's picture

Under the favorite recipes by Floyd - there's a recipe for Pain Aux Raisins and Cream Chees Snails, the base is Pain Au Lait,  something that you are looking for?  This will give you the soft on the inside,  mildly crisps on the inside when you brush it with egg. No holes....

mrfrost's picture

Sounds like you are looking for a Vietnamese baguette type recipe. That's one type bread that I have not seen discussed much here. There are a couple of threads about them. You can type "Vietnamese baguette" in the site search box to read them.

Then there is the "typical" Italian loaf which is similar to French bread, but is usually softer from added oil, milk, etc. It usually has a finer and more even crumb than french bread.

There is a pretty popular recipe here for an Italian loaf that also may fit what you want. It has varying crumb results, from pretty smooth and even to somewhat a little holey, I think depending on how wet the final dough ended up. A "wetter" dough will usually produce a relatively more open(holey) crumb. Link below:

Since the recipe is given in volume measurements instead of weight, bakers may end up with different dough consistency(wetness) because, as you will learn, measuring flour by volume may vary from baker to baker. One baker may measure a cup of flour which has as little as 4 oz. of flour, where another baker measures a cup with well over 5 oz. So even though both used a "cup of flour", they really had different amounts of flour. So without further liquid/flour adjustment, the dough consistencies will differ.

Good luck.



swtgran's picture

This one seems to work:

1 cup (160 g) all purpose flour

5 oz. (150 g) water

2 teaspoon (7 g) active yeast

Mix well. and leave at room temperature for 3 to 12 hours.  I make at night and leave till mornings.

2 cups (320 g) all purpose flour

1/2 cup or 4 oz. water

1 1/2 teaspoon (6 g) salt

Mix this with the fermented paste, knead, cover with plastic wrap and leave it in a warm place for 45-60 minutes.  Remove the dough from the bowl, hand knead it a few tiimes on a flat surface (it is not necessary to flour the surface), divide the dough into two pieces of equal size and shape them into balls.  Press the one ball down.  Use a rolling pin and fingertips to press the dough into  a 10 inch by 6 inch rectangle.  Since the dough will resist extension, rest the dough as necessary.  Roll up the dough as tight as possible into a cylinder (you can do that by pulling the dough toward yourself gently while rolling up the dough), and then pinch the seams together with your fingertips.

Extend the dough to 14 inches by pressing and rolling using both hands.  The dough will resist extension so rest it a couple times.  Do not shape the dough directly from a ball into a long cylinder. 

Place the dough on a sheet pan and make 3-4 diagonal cuts using a serrated knife or razor blade not deeper than 1/4 inch.  Place cover over dough.  Repeat with second dough ball.

Proof the dough in a warm place until the volume doubles (about 1 hr.). Bake at 400, under cover,(like stainless bowl or a roaster pan lid), for 30 minutes and then remove the cover and bake for another 8-10 minutes or until color is golden brown.

swtgran's picture

Oops, it was still early when I read your post.  Sorry, I thought you were looking for french bread.  I don't know why this recipe wouldn't work for rolls, though.  Good luck. 

JohnMich's picture

Thanks everyone for replies but what I am going to do is try Oops Gran's recipe and make half into a bread loaf and the other into rolls. I'll learn something at least that way and just possibly find what I'm looking for.

Many regards, John