Monday, 26 January 2015

My Lovely Baps!

I am a fairly confident and experimental home cook and definitely more so in the past couple of years since I appeared on MasterChef Ireland and started writing this blog. For me, cooking is very much about making food that others enjoy eating; otherwise, what’s the point? Given all the new and exciting things that I have been experimenting with cooking and baking, I find it amazing that one of the things that my children particularly love are the baps that I have made a number of times recently. As soon as they emerge from the oven my three are hovering around, wanting to know when they can eat them! I barely had enough time to photograph them for the pics to accompany this post before they gobbled them all down.
 
Don’t, get me wrong, I’m delighted that they love them… but in comparison to some of the sometimes exotic and challenging things that I make, these are… well… quite plain. This got me thinking; so often we think that things that are complex are somehow better and really, this is so far from the truth. Too often when we go to restaurants, we seem more impressed by dishes that contain a number of technical processes rather than dishes that are simply cooked well and taste wonderful. We are swayed by how something looks rather than whether it is delicious. Surely the best cooks are those that can make something wonderful out of the most humble of ingredients?
 
These baps are made with flour, yeast, a little salt and butter and some milk/water – very simple, but they taste wonderful. They are soft and billowy and light in the mouth but without being dry. I love a bap split with some freshly grilled bacon and a splodge of tomato ketchup… real comfort food and a very tasty snack! 

So, what are baps?  Well, they are large round, slightly flattened bread rolls with a soft crust and an aerated, yielding crumb achieved by the addition of a little butter to the dough.  The liquid used is a mixture of water and milk which results in a lovely tender crumb. Baps are regularly sold filled with meats and salads as ‘sandwiches’, but they can also be eaten on their own. Baps are not unlike Waterford Blaa (see my recipe here) a regional bread historically made in counties Waterford, Wexford and parts of Kilkenny in Ireland. However baps tend to be flatter and more disc-shaped whereas blaas are rounder.

This dough is quite sticky to work with at first, but don’t let this alarm you… keep working the dough by kneading and stretching it and it will come together in a beautifully soft and silky ball.
 

Ingredients:

300g strong white bread flour, plus a little extra for dusting
150g strong wholemeal bread flour
5g fine sea salt
50g butter, cubed
12g fresh yeast
5g sugar
150ml milk
150ml water
 

Method:

1. Place both the flours in a large mixing bowl and add the salt, mixing it through with your hands so that it is well distributed.
2. Add the butter and rub into the flour until it is broken down and well combined. Crumble in the yeast and mix through the flour to distribute. Make a well in the centre and add the milk and water. Bring together with your hands to form a slightly sticky dough and then turn out onto a clean work-surface.
3. Knead for approximately 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and silky and no longer sticky. Place the dough into a clean, lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling-film. Leave to rise for about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
4. Line a large baking tray (2 if smaller) with non-stick baking parchment and set aside.
5. Tip the dough out onto a clean work-surface and knock out the air in the dough. Divide the dough into 8 equal portions (I weigh mine using my electronic scales for the sake of uniformity). Form each portion into a ball and then flatten them with a rolling pin or the palm of your hand until they are about 3cms thick. Place each bap on the prepared baking tray, spacing them well apart so that they have room to expand.
6. Dust with a little flour and cover with cling-film and allow to rise for 45-60 minutes, until doubled in size.
7. Just before baking preheat the oven to 200C/Fan Oven 180C/Gas Mark 6. Dust the risen baps with a little more flour and bake in the preheated oven for 17-20 minutes until they are a pale golden colour (do not allow them to brown too much). Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving.

Makes 8.