When friends are coming to dinner I bake bread -- because I can't imagine anything more welcoming than the smell of fresh bread just out of the oven, but also because it's an excuse for hot bread, isn't it? Often it's focaccia topped with rosemary, but when I am pressed for time, I make these simple dinner rolls which actually feel like a bit of a cheat. They're a doddle to make, require no special equipment, and are ready in just over an hour (yes, start to finish).
Makes 8 rolls
330 g bread flour (200 g bread flour and 130 g '00'), plus a little extra for the tops
8 g salt
1 teaspoon dried yeast
35 g lard (or butter)
190 - 210 g warm water
extra virgin olive oil, for greasing
In a large glass or plastic bowl, mix together the flours, salt and yeast. Add the lard and use your fingers to rub it into the flour. Pour in most of the water and bring everything together to form a soft, slightly sticky dough, adding the remainder of the water as necessary. Tip the dough out onto a clean bench, give the bowl a rinse and use a little olive oil to lightly grease the sides.
Knead the dough with determination for about 8 - 10 minutes, until springy and smooth. Place it in the bowl and cover with plastic. Leave it to prove in a warm spot for an hour.
Preheat oven to 230C / 220C fan, and line a large baking sheet with grease proof paper.
Gently tip the dough onto the bench and with lightly floured hands, form a thick log about 10 cm x 5 cm and 3-3.5 cm high. Cut the log into 8 and place the rolls on the tray leaving a little space between them. Dust the tops with flour and bake for 10 minutes until lightly golden. Serve hot with lashings of butter.