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Baps - a guilty pleasure

"A bap is, at its simplest, a bread roll. At its more complicated, it is a tender pillow of dough, often made with milk, lard, and butter." Sydney Oland/Serious Eats

Today I succumbed and treated myself to a bag of these Coles Damper inspired rolls - which, to my mind, are the closest you can get here in Australia to a bap - a really soft, unashamedly white and floury roll. The ingredients as listed on their website are:

Wheat Flour, Water, Vitamins [Thiamin, Folic Acid], Yeast, Iodised Salt, Wheat Gluten, Canola Oil, Yellow Pea Flour."

which is marginally better than they used to be when they included palm oil. Not particularly healthy though, although not particularly evil either.

Anyway I love them, I think because they remind me of childhood, although to be honest, I cannot remember an actual moment of eating them, just a vague feeling of soft, and flour and butter spread thick. Something I still guiltily do.

The Coles versions are not proper baps though because they do not have either any butter or lard in them - lard being the crucial ingredient according to the purists.

They are Scottish, although there are endlessly similar versions scattered all over the British Isles. Apparently the Scottish liked to fill them with a fried egg and some crispy slices of bacon, the whole thing, then being wrapped in paper and tucked in your jacket pocket to eat later as you strolled the Scottish moors. Possibly a bit romanticised?

General opinion, however, seems to be that they are indeed best for a sandwich, most usually for breakfast and mostly including some kind of cooked meat:

"A more humble, Scottish version of the brioche. The bap is the ideal bread for a simple meat sandwich. Whether that meat is leftover boiled beef, mutton, bacon, or sausages, the bap takes a simple meat and elevates it to one of the most steadying sandwiches a person could crave. And it's especially good for those mornings when soaking up all of last night's bad decisions is a top priority." Sydney Oland /Serious Eats

Mr. Oland then goes on to describe his ideal breakfast sausage bap sandwich:

"I've found them particularly good for breakfast, especially if used to create a sausage bap, which is simply a sliced sausage stuffed inside a bap. What you should look for is a plain pork sausage, nothing too flashy—just some good quality pork well seasoned with a few spices so that the bap itself can shine. When serving sausage baps you should give your guests the option of topping or dipping their baps into HP sauce as well as ketchup. Both of these tart sauces make an ideal partner to the simple elegance of the sausage bap."

And he, I assume is an American, which doesn't stop him providing a recipe for Traditional British baps, although I note that he, like Coles, goes for vegetable oil rather than the prescriptive butter and lard.

It's perhaps not so peculiar that the Americans talk about baps given the Americans love of hamburgers, for which I also use them.

Mind you I confess that their very softness works against them here. Well, if like me you prefer your hamburger bun to be untoasted, they do become squidgy and doughy I suppose when you press down on the hamburger and other things inside, at which point all the juices ooze out. Which is why David prefers his toasted, and why I was cheered to find this from Zoe Williams in The Guardian:

"Domestically, you mostly serve burgers to people you like. They’re food for intimates, because you’re going to eat them with your hands and they will probably fall apart."

Yes they do and you definitely need a bib and a pile of napkins. I never eat hamburgers in restaurants.

So how do you make them? Well apparently it's easy. Not much kneading required and not much time in the oven either. That said a quick search - and I do mean quick - only brought up one recipe from which used lard. Dan Lepard one of the major bread gurus in Britain at this time has three different recipes - a basic one for soft white baps but also Cornmeal baps which he recommends for sandwiching fried chicken and Buttermilk baps.

All of which goes to show that bap is a very loosely used term these days.

Jamie Oliver who is not Scottish but quintessentially British  gives two versions of how you can use baps - he doesn't offer a recipe for making the actual baps - and neither does Delia which is a little bit odd. Jamie's kinds of burgers are a bit over the top but very British: The best fish baps with mushy peas and tartare sauce and Sausage brunch bap which includes the egg but in omelette form.

So what did I do with my baps? Well I split one in half, buttered thickly the two halves, put Red Leicester cheese on one and sliced tomato with pepper, salt, olive oil and a torn basil leaf on the other - so two open sandwiches rather than one enclosed and complicated one. Not very highbrow at all. I'm a simple soul at heart. I've put the rest of the packet in the freezer for another guilty pleasure moment.


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