Cheese and Bacon Rolls

Whether you call them cinnamon rolls or chelsea buns or something else entirely, the concept of rolling a filling in bread dough to make something delicious is a great idea and something that I seem to see pretty often online. However, I started to wonder – why are these rolls always sweet? Why not make a savoury version which is really just like a pre-filled sandwich? That way, I could have a tasty lunch for no more effort than packing a couple of rolls…well, no more effort than that first thing in the morning, which is my least favourite time of day – there is of course all the mixing and kneading and cooking and rolling that is required to make these tasty morsels, but that can be done the night before.

The dough recipe below is actually my second attempt at a good dough for this. For the first one I used quite a high water to flour ratio which meant that when it came to rolling out the dough, I was stuck (literally – to the counter). I nearly gave up after that first batch of dough as I had already spent quite a long time experimenting (unsuccessfully) with a Roman nut custard recipe (more on that to come  if I ever figure it out) but I persevered and it was worth it! Try to resist adding too much extra flour to your hands and the counter when kneading the dough – you can usually go longer than you think before you need more. However, do make sure that there is a healthy sprinkling of flour on the counter when it comes to rolling it out as it is important that the dough doesn’t stick at that point. All the cup measurements are based on a 250 ml mug as equal to 1 cup. If you want to, you can add a pinch of salt to the dough when you add the flour. However, I found the salt in the bacon and cheese was enough for me and so have not included it in the recipe below.

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What you need:

3 cups plain flour

7 gram sachet fast action dried yeast

1 dessertspoon + 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (plus more for greasing the pan)

1 cup warm water

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Large handful of roughly chopped cooked bacon

Large handful of grated cheddar cheese

What to do:

1. Mix together in a bowl the flour and yeast.

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2. Add one dessertspoon of olive oil and the water to the flour and yeast and mix together thoroughly.

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3. Tip the dough onto a clean, lightly floured surface and knead for at least 10 minutes. Then put the dough back into the bowl, cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and leave to rise somewhere warm for about 20 to 30 minutes.

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4. When the dough has risen to about twice its original size, tip it out onto a clean, lightly floured surface and knead again for at least 10 minutes. Re-flour the surface well and then roll the dough out into a large rectangle – mine was about 60 cm long by 25 cm wide.

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5.Mix together 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the Dijon mustard – don’t worry if they don’t mix together very well.

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6. Liberally brush the olive oil and mustard mixture over the top surface of the rolled out dough and then sprinkle the bacon and cheese evenly over the oil and mustard.

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7. Roll up the rectangle of dough along one of the wide ends. I found it easiest to do this by rolling a little at a time from one end all the way along to the other end, and then going back to the first end and rolling it a little more all the way along to the other end and so on.

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8. Cut the dough into evenly sized pieces – I went for 12 tallish rolls but you may prefer more short rolls. I found that cutting the rolls squashed them a little bit flat, so I squished them into slightly more round, sausage shapes and then adjusted them further so that they stood upright, but you could just leave them in their squished shapes and lie them flat in the pan in the next step if you prefer.

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9. Put the rolls in a greased tin (to grease the tin, just brush the sides with olive oil, or, if you prefer, melted butter), spaced evenly apart, and leave to rise again, covered with a damp tea towel, somewhere warm for 20 to 30 minutes until they have approximately doubled in size. I figured it would hurt to have the bacon out for about 20 minutes and then put it straight into a hot oven, but I’ll leave that decision up to you.

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10. Just before the rolls have finished rising, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4 (180º C or 350º F). Remove the tea towel from the top of the baking pan and bake the rolls in the middle of the pre-heated oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until they are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped underneath.

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11. When the rolls have baked, remove them from the pan and cool on a cooling rack. These are also very good (if not best) served warm straight from the oven. Yum!

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