Homemade bread is not always the easiest beast to tackle, and certainly not for those who lean impatient. When you have to wait at least two hours before the stuff is even in the oven, that takes some patience and dedication. The recipe isn't really that difficult, though, so at least there's that! And after all of the waiting, the end result is definitely just what we were hoping for, for once. Let that dough rise, and rise, and rise, seriously! You want it to be nice and light and full of air pockets, right? Right!
Ours also took longer because we had put all 8 rolls on one pan initially, which would've meant they baked into each other rather than forming nice separate buns, and separating them onto two pans meant they got deflated, so we had to let them rise again! Yes, lots of rising time for us. I put in my instructions to separate them onto two pans, but if you don't care about them touching, go ahead and leave them on one pan.
These buns are ostensibly meant for burgers, which you can see a photo of below, but I will say we definitely ate some straight out of the oven (after cooling, duh), and they were bready goodness. Of course, I love myself a good bread, so you will be hard-pressed to find me turning down any kind of bread product. Anyway, yes, slice them up and turn them into burgers, or BLTs, or perhaps even just a nice turkey sandwich. The burger below has a beef patty, bacon, cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, romaine lettuce, a mayo/ketchup sauce, and it would have had pickles as well, but apparently we got a bottle that was not properly sealed so.. no pickles for us. But still, this burger was rich and, dare I say, decadent, in no small part to the addition of the homemade bun. I mean, SO much better than one you just buy at the store in a plastic bag.
What I really discovered in the making of these buns was the power of the dough scraper. I got one last Christmas and I'm not sure if I've used it since then, but I can tell you it was definitely a lifesaver with these buns! The initial recipe didn't say to spray the bowl before putting your dough back in to rise, and it would've been a sticky issue if not for the power of the dough scraper. Super handy! You can also use it to help in your kneading process as well, by scraping any sticky bits off your counter/cutting board/whatever you use and then slapping that dough back onto it. That way, you don't have to add quite as much flour, which is important. I would also recommend getting a good thermometer for when you put your yeast in the "warm" milk/water situation. Ours took a bit longer to foam up, but I'm not sure if it's because the liquid was too hot or too cold. So temperamental, that yeast!
- 3 Tablespoons warm milk
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 1/2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 3 cups bread flour
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- sesame seeds (optional)
- In a glass measuring cup, or a bowl, combine one cup warm water, the milk, yeast and sugar, and let stand for about five minutes, until foamy. While that's going on, beat one egg. It's best if warm = 105-110F.
- In a large bowl, whisk together your flours and salt. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingers, making crumbs. Using a dough scraper (your new best friend), stir in the yeast mixture and beaten egg until your dough forms. Scrape that out onto a clean, well-floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. The dough is going to be pretty sticky and messy, but try not to add too much extra flour or your buns won't be quite as light. Some is fine, just not a lot.
- Shape the dough into a ball and return it to the bowl. You can always spray your bowl with some non-stick spray to prevent it sticking to the sides here as well. Cover that with some plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size, which can take one to two hours. Some tips on rising below.*
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Using your handy dandy dough scraper, divide the dough into 8 equal parts. Gently roll each into a ball and arrange on your baking sheets, 4 to a sheet, so they can be 2-3 inches apart. Cover loosely with plastic wrap coated in non-stick spray and let those rise in a warm place again for another one to two hours.
- Set a large shallow pan of water on your oven floor (this helps to keep the buns from getting too hard on the outside, I suspect). Preheat your oven to 400F with your rack in the center. Beat the remaining egg with one tablespoon of water and brush that on your buns. You can sprinkle with sesame seeds here, if you so desire. Bake, turning your sheet halfway through baking, until the tops are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. You can do one pan at a time here, as it's ok to let your second pan keep rising in the meantime.
*Okay, if you are having trouble with getting your dough to rise, here are a couple tips. One, you can try turning on your oven to its lowest temperature for a few minutes, then stick your dough in there. That may start to cook it just a little, so if you don't want to do that, another tip is to heat up some water in a saucepan, and stick that along with your dough in the oven. That gives it a little extra heat/moisture to get the rising process going.
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