Writers Who Bake: Ellen Hawley

Charlotte Hamrick, at Zouxzoux: Poetry, Prose, Photography, has added a series on writers who bake. And since this recipe’s mine, I’m just vain enough to reblog it.

The site’s well worth exploring.

Charlotte Hamrick

Pretty Damn Good White Rolls

The rule of internet recipes is that you blither for 500 words before you get to the recipe. Also that you claim it makes the greatest whatever ever. This one doesn’t–someone somewhere has a better recipe using a trick I don’t know–but it will give you rolls with a damn good texture. The trick is to let the yeast get to work before you mix in the salt and to give it plenty of time.

Start the rolls several hours–or better yet the night before–you plan to make the dough.

White Rolls

500 grams bread flour *

2 tsp dry yeast

200 ml  water or sourdough starter

1½ tsp salt

Up to 500 ml water

* In American, 500 grams of flour is 3 cups plus 2 Tbsp, or so Lord Google tells me. I bake bilingually, but do not, under any circumstances, trust me…

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32 thoughts on “Writers Who Bake: Ellen Hawley

    • Recipes here tend to still use teaspoons and tablespoons, although I’ve seen a few that ask for 7 grams of yeast, or something like that. Getting that right depends on your scale being accurate enough to pick up 7 grams.

      For whatever the information’s worth (not much, I suspect, but it’s interesting), measuring spoons here are either bigger or smaller than the American ones. By now I’ve forgotten which. I have a few of each, can’t remember which is which, and have given up caring. Nothing I make is so finally tuned that it can’t survive a bit of slippage in one direction or another.

      Liked by 1 person

        • I wasn’t happy about it either but discovered that life is possible anyway. The cornmeal is different–ground smoother, I think–but I had a package from the US, so that wasn’t the problem. I wish I knew what was. One recipe didn’t rise. Another, with more baking powder (or possibly soda–it’s been a long time) was bitter (too much baking soda/powder will do that) but it did rise nicely. Some ingredient is clearly different, but I don’t know what it is. Except for baking soda being called bicarbonate of soda, everything has the same names, but something must be formulated differently. Or–well, I don’t know. Maybe it’s the accent.

          Any theories?


            • Hang on. How did we get to the point where we’re talking about aluminum? Or aluminium. Or am I missing a pun here? How embarrassing if I am.

              You could well be right about the raising agents. (I’m too lazy to type them out, which leave me typing this much longer explanation.) Although they don’t give me trouble in any other recipes I’ve imported.


    • Gluten-free baking is a tough order. But if you’re not dealing with outright celiac disease, I’m told that slow-rise, homemade bread is a lot easier to digest than the more commercial stuff, which tends to add gluten so they can make it faster.

      Liked by 1 person

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