Father's day and a baked surprise for a loving, loved father - ham and cheese rolls, courtesy of my son's imagination

Last Sunday was Father's day here in Portugal. I'm guessing it was Father's day in other countries as well, but hey, I live here. Father's day tends to be a little bittersweet, lately. See, I lost my father when I was nineteen. And last year we lost my husband's dad. So it feels a little odd, because although my husband is now a father, he no longer has a dad to call on that particular day and chat away for a while, or drop over at his place for a meal with our kid in tow, as it sometimes happened. But at the same time, he being a father, will get spoiled. Or so the plan goes.

See, our son loves surprising his parents, he loves coming home from school with those handcrafted stuff they make for these special dates and he loves hiding them around the house in places he's sure we will end up bumping into his sweet tokens of love. Just this past Valentine's day, kiddo made a postcard at school and he hid it under my pillow, I didn't find it until I went to change into my pajamas, but I sure wasn't expecting it. He kept it all quiet and hush hush, so it was a bit of a surprise indeed, a sweet one that made me tear up a little - ok, so I tear up a little at just about anything.

When it comes to his dad, he really wanted to go that extra mile. He had two postcards for him, a handcrafted gift made at school - along with the postcards - but he wanted something else extra special. He wanted to bake something for dad - and he also wanted to eat said bakig treat. We talked about it for two whole weeks, him and I, during the school runs, and we came to a decision. Dad was getting brioche buns. Ever since I baked my first brioche I have been on a roll, and I still have another bun recipe on a folder waiting to make its debut on this blog. I had come across a recipe for cinnamon and golden milk rolls that I really wanted to try. And so I did.

The first attempt at these rolls, I had to tweak them a little. I mean, I wanted to, because I had certain stuff at home that I really wanted to use in them. Recipe will soon be forthcoming, but they were much the base for the rolls we settled on to bake for my husband on Father's day. It's golden milk rolls, yes, and they have ham and cheese inside them. Because the kiddo feels that ham and cheese can do no wrong and the combo is perfect in this dough. Turns out the kid is right, and they are really all that good. I mean, really. I still find it a bit hard to work this kind of dough into shapes, and some of my rolls - which were actually supposed to resemble dainty croissants - came out looking rather funky. But the taste, my friends, made up for all the rest.

I'm a sucker for golden milk, but I always go a bot over the board. I do it with saffron and turmeric, because I like the depth of flavour that comes out from the two of them infusing together. If I'm doing a sweet version, Itend to throw in a cinnamon stick as well, if it's more on the savoury side, I leave it out. I actually used soemthing rather unusual in this dough, that won't be to everyone's taste, so feel free to leave it out. I had to add it in because it's my husband's favourite seasoning. It's fenugreek, and if left alone he will add it to everything. I do mean everything, the man's a sucker for fenugree! So these buns have a pinch that is quite unnecessary if you're not a huge fan of it.

Anyway, here's what you need to treat yourselves to these pretty little bundles of deliciousness:
  • 150 ml milk
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 3 to 4 strands of saffron
  • 1 pinch of fenugreek
  • 1 cup strong bread flour
  • 1/2 cup of rye flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp light muscovado sugar
  • 20 gr fresh yeast
  • 5 to 6 slices of ham
  • 5 to 6 slices of cheese
  • knob of butter
  • eggwash (facultative)
Start by heating up the milk on a pan, with the turmeric and the saffron. Bring it to a simmer and then turn off the heat and take the pan from the stove. Allow to infuse until the milk is lukewarm. Pour into a measuring jug and add water until you have a total of 175 ml. On your stand up mixer bowl, place the flours, the salt and sugar and fenugreek, and on the opposite side the yeast broken into crumbs. Add half the milk and water and using the hook implement, beat on the lowest speed. Add the rest of the milk slowly and increase the speed. Beat until the dough has gained consitency and then keep beating for five minutes. Cover with a kitchen towel and let the dough proof for two hours on a warm, dark place. I usually pop it in the oven and let it sit there in the dark. Once it has doubled the size, pour onto a floured surface and gently knead the dough so you take out the excess air in it. Roll into a large rectangle with a floured rolling pin and melt your butter in the microwave oven. Also, turn on your oven at 180ยบ. Brush the butter over the dough and cover the bottom half of it with the ham from one end to the other, making sure you leave at least a centimetre on the edges. Then do the same with the cheese, placing it on top of the ham slices. Now fold the upper half of the dough onto the lower one and press down. With a dough cutter cut triangles and roll them into crescents. Brush them with the eggwash - I didn't - and place them in an oven tray that's covered in parchement paper. Bake for about twenty minutes, until they look golden and fluffy and done. Let them cool before biting int them, experience says. They'll smell so good you'll have a hard time doing that!!