Bread making feels intimidating not because it is difficult but it takes a long time. I developed this recipe for Sunflower Seed Rolls to test out a way of proving bread quickly. Now Paul Hollywood will not like me for this shortcut but it gives you the pleasure of making bread about 45 minutes quicker than normal. With this method I can have these rolls done in about 1 hour 45 minutes rather than 2 hours 30 minutes.
Aside from shortcut bread making, these rolls are both very nutritious and full of flavour. Sunflower seeds are high in protein, fibre and vitamins B and E so there’s no reason why you can’t make them. They were inspired by Joanne Wheatley’s Sunflower Seed Rolls from her brilliant book Home Baking. I reduced the amount of wholemeal flour so the bread was lighter in texture and I made the rolls a lot larger because I prefer the appearance of the muffin top.
Remember to grease your 12-hole muffin tin well otherwise you’ll have a nightmare getting the bread rolls out. If you have the terracotta plant pots, you can also use them to bake the rolls in there for a better shape. Just make sure you prepare them properly by oiling and baking twice before use.
275g plain flour
125g strong wholemeal bread flour
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 x 7g sachets of fast-action dried yeast
30g olive oil
60g sunflower seeds, plus 15g sunflower seeds to decorate
About 250ml tepid water
1 tbsp milk
Place the flours into a large bowl and add the sugar and salt to one side of the bowl. Add the yeast to the other side and mix well to combine. Add the oil and the 60g of sunflower seeds. Create a well and add three-quarters of the water. Use your hand to bring it together into a soft but not wet dough, adding more water when necessary. Knead for a good 8 to 10 minutes by hand (or 5 minutes using a stand mixer) until the dough is smooth on the outside and when you press the dough it springs back completely.
Place back into the bowl and cover lightly with clingfilm. Take a roasting tin with a metal colander in the centre and place the bowl into the colander, making sure it is not touching the bottom. Fill the roasting tin with some recently boiled water and then allow the bread to prove for 30 minutes. The steam from the boiling water will pass through the holes in the colander and the heat from the water will conduct from the colander, creating a hot environment for the dough to prove. The indirect heat will not kill the yeast.
Once proved, turn out the dough and knead for a further minute. Empty the water from the roasting tin and remove the colander. Divide into 9 equal portions and shape into ball shapes using a round cup motion with your hands. Place into 9 holes of a very-well greased muffin tin. Rest the grooves on the underside of the muffin tin on the edges of the roasting tin, cover lightly with clingfilm and fill the roasting tin with some more recently boiled water, allowing the steam to prove the rolls for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Place the roasting tray into the oven while you finish the rolls. This will create a steamy environment ideal for the bread. Brush the top of the rolls with the milk, top with a crack of black pepper and the reserved sunflower seeds. Bake for around 18 to 20 minutes until the tops are browned and when the rolls sound hollow when tapped on the base.