The Friendly Breakfast Bap

How could this be? I forgot all about baps, once my favorite little roll, until a friend wrote saying how she use to relish the breakfast baps at Café Escalera years ago. Hardly anyone came for breakfast but a few diehards, even though I managed get out warm baps practically before sun-up. I thank her profusely for prodding my memory of those tender, yeasty rolls. They were the perfect breakfast bread and they certainly provided one of the nicest way to greet the day—golden round baps, warm from the oven, tender inside but crusty outside, a saucer of homemade jam along side, maybe some thin slices of a good cheddar, a bowl of coffee. Indeed, a good breakfast. Plus “bap” is such a funny, odd word, and fun to say.

Marion Cunningham told me about baps years ago. She loved them, too, and thought they were indeed the just about perfect for breakfast, although she thought many things were, in fact, perfect for breakfast. She included a recipe in her little masterpiece, The Breakfast Book, saying in her head note, “This is the Scot’s breakfast roll. Crisp-crusted, soft-centered, and well buttered, a friendlier roll you’ll never meet.”

Imagine. A friendly roll. That’s so Marion. And it is true of baps.

And I think a friendly roll might be just what’s needed right now.  January is always a long hard month. It’s too cold to be lured by the seed catalogues (minus-1 yesterday morning!). Our tea-party governor’s address to New Mexico doesn’t cheer, nor does the NRA. I’m tired of food and thinking about food and almost even cooking, except, now that baps have been brought up, maybe, just maybe, I’ll make up a batch. Not today, but maybe tomorrow. I’m out of yeast and they call for a lot.

Baps are not only friendly, but, as Marion pointed out, they’re Scottish—and that’s my heritage, at least in part, and my husband’s in full. No wonder I was once especially keen on baps—it’s genetic. But I don’t believe you have to have a drop of Scottish ancestry to enjoy these little rolls. (Plus I never saw them in Scotland when I went there.)

Here is Marion’s recipe. She calls for lard, for it’s good “barny” taste, so if you use it, do here. Otherwise, sneak in some salty Irish Kerrygold butter. Serve them warm with that special jam you’ve been saving and saving. If you’ve got the winter blues, now just might be the time

1 teaspoon sugar

1/3 cup warm water

3 (yes!) packages dried yeast, but cut back if you want to (I do at 7000 feet altitude)

4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour

1 ½ teaspoons salt

½ cup lard or soft butter

½ cup warm milk

1/ cup warm water

Dissolve the sugar in the water and sprinkled over the yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes.

In a larger bowl mix together the flour and salt and rub in the lard or butter. Add the now bubbling yeast, the milk and water and mix together with your hands to get a soft dough. Cover and let rise until doubled, about an hour.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead until smooth. Divide into l6 pieces and shape into a ball. Put the balls on a greased sheet pan and set them aside to rise for 30 minutes while the oven warms.

Heat the oven to 400’F and bake the baps until golden brown. (I brush mine with a beaten egg, but you don’t have to.) Serve them hot from the oven. The picture is irrelevant, but meant to say that one day summer will be here.

Imaginary flower

Imaginary flower

16 comments to The Friendly Breakfast Bap

  • Love this recipe. Love baps. Love Scotland, and Deborah Madison, and Marion Cunningham! This shed some light on an otherwise dreary day. Thanks Deborah!

  • Michele Crim

    May I say that this is one of the most engaging notes I have read in oh so long….you cheered me, dear Deborah, and my forever-friend, Janet, who is visiting this weekend will enjoy your morning baps, with me, in my tiny Oakland kitchen. xoxo

    • Michele – I do hope they work! I must say that much yeast looks like a lot, but I know must have used Marion’s recipe nearly as it was, accounting for
      altitude. Enjoy your visit with your forever-friend, baps or no!

  • Deborah,

    Nice entry for January, I think I need to try a bap! sunny here today but the greyness of the Finger Lakes of NY can be wearing. I was curious to see what other food writers had to say, and enjoying your blog.

  • David – Hope you try them! The Finger Lakes — I was a little girl when my dad was getting is PhD at Cornell. I do remember that area being grey and cold in the winter. Baps might just help!

  • I love just about any bread. These seem as light as popovers. I will have to try them tonight!!

    Thanks

    Arthur in the Garden!

  • Deborah Ross

    Bitter cold and dreary here in VA. My Celtic roots were honored with a loaf of Struan purchased this morning at my local farm market. But Baps, which I’d all but forgotten about sound even better. There is a vendor at my local market that sells lard. So this calls for a batch made with butter this week and lard next weekend. Glorious! And thanks for the reminder about Marion Cunningham, she was a remarkable champion of the dignity of our daily meals.

  • Deborah – My Celtic roots actually long for grey days! Yes, Marion was special, and I like the way you put it -” a champion of the dignity of our daily meals.” Exactly.
    Glad you’ll try the baps, and with lard from your market. Would love to know what you think –

  • Shari

    Deborah,
    I love your cookbooks–your ideas, your flavors, your voice–and am so happy to discover your blog. About how long do the baps take to cook in the oven?

  • Suzanne

    Hi, this sounds so tempting! I want to make these this weekend, but I have 2 questions:
    - Would I be able to use shape this dough? I’m thinking about making bunny rolls.
    - Does the recipe call for 1 cup or 1/2 cup of warm water? I know it says 1 cup, but it looks like a number could have been left out, so I want to make sure.

    Thank you!

    • Hi Suzanne. I’m not sure about the bunny rolls. The dough my be a little to soft, though if you used chilled (overnight n the refrigerator?) it might work. Try it first! If it’s too soft a dough, you could add more flour to make it stiffer. But the point of baps is their tenderness and that comes from the fat.
      The liquid was 1/2 cup EACH warm milk and warm water. The yeast dissolves in 1/3 cup water. I hope this helps, and good luck!!

  • Alicia

    Funny- When I hear Bap I think of rice!

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