Professor Calvel, the greatest French teacher of baking this century, regarded pistolets as one of the finest bread recipes in the war-chest of the journeyman baker. Somehow, it had survived the onslaught of mechanization - which changed so much about French, and every other, bread - and craftsmen were still seen hand rolling the little forms, splitting them with a broom handle, or the edge of the hand, and carefully nurturing them into perfect dinner rolls.
Rolls are the fancy side of baking. They are not usually made with wholemeal or coarse flours, and the wheat has to be the best to give them maximum lightness. They are made with a slightly enriched dough: the extract of malt gives zip to the yeast and a burnished bronze crust, and the milk powder gives tenderness of crumb.