St. Paul was buzzing yesterday. School started and everyone was excited as the kids headed out the door. My sweet boy, Aanen, proudly made the walk down the street and into our nearby school, hand-in-hand with his dad. I was both proud and sad to see him wave goodbye. I have Aria for several more days at home, since pre-kindergarten doesn’t start until next week. To be honest, I’ve been surprised that these first few days went off without a hitch. All summer our kids stayed up far too late, and slept in until 9 a.m. every morning. But the change in schedule didn’t seem to affect them too much, and we haven’t skipped a beat.
The other big news in my world is that one of my dearest friends, Angharad, is moving to the UK. Yesterday Aria and I had a chance to say our goodbyes to her at lunch. She and her husband are moving to London, and while I’m happy and excited for them, I’m more than a bit sad. I will miss this girl tremendously. I’m already plotting how to save money for a visit to England. Best of luck to the both Dan and Angharad as they settle in on their new life overseas.
Alright, on to talking about food. I’ve been excited to share this amazing bun recipe with you all summer. I’ve made several batches, and every time they’ve turned out perfectly. The flavor can’t be beat. The buttermilk gives them a subtle tang, while the butter keeps them moist (sorry to those of you that hate that word). These are great all-purpose buns. We’ve eaten them with pulled pork (doused with this amazing mustard sauce), burgers, and regular summer sausage. This bun is it! It holds up really well– it isn’t too soft, or too dense, and has a nice beautiful crust. Best of all, it lasts for a few days (when properly re-warmed in the oven). It really is the only bun recipe you’ll ever need.
A couple thoughts on baking bread. First of all, if you dismiss the idea of baking your own because you think it’s too difficult and not worth the trouble, reconsider. There is virtually no work involved in these buns (or most any bread, for that matter). Most of it is a waiting game. The results are fabulous and you will feel so happy when you pull that pan out of the oven. Second, and I know I’ve mentioned this before, but if you invest in a scale, your baking will turn out perfectly almost every time. Accuracy is the key to better results. I hope you give these buns a try and enjoy them as much as we have!
The Recipe: Homemade Sandwich Buns
21 1/4 ounces (4 1/4 cups) bread flour
2 teaspoons rapid rise yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, heated to 100°F
1 egg, lightly beaten, at room temperature
1 egg mixed with 1 teaspoon water, for egg wash
Poppy and sesame seeds, for sprinkling, if desired
Note: I’m giving the instructions for making these buns using a stand mixer, because I have one. If you don’t, they buns can easily be made the old-fashioned way. Instead of using a dough hook, just knead it with your hands/arms for several minutes. You’ll want the dough to be smooth and silky. You don’t want it to be too dry or too sticky. If it is a bit dry, simply add more buttermilk.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the flour, salt, yeast, and sugar. Mix to combine for a few seconds. Then add 1 egg, butter pieces, and warmed buttermilk. Mix on low until the liquid has absorbed and the dough forms a ball. Remove the paddle attachment and use the dough hook. Mix on medium for about 6-8 minutes, or until a beautiful, silky ball has formed. Then place in an oiled bowl. Drizzle a bit of oil on the top of the dough and gently smooth it all over. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a draft-free area. Let rise for about 1 1/2 – 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
When the dough has properly risen, divide the dough into 12 3-ounce balls (you may have a smidge of dough leftover). Work the balls into proper bun shapes, placing the seam side down. Place them on a 12 x 15 baking sheet (or use two smaller ones) that has been lined with parchment paper. Spray olive oil on top of the buns and cover with plastic wrap for 20 minutes. Then, with the plastic wrap still on the buns, gently press down on each bun with your fingers to flatten it a bit. Otherwise you will end up with a round dinner roll (which can be great, but not for sandwiches). Let rise again for another 1- 1 1/2 hours, or until they are big enough for your liking.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F. When the buns have adequately risen, use a pastry brush to apply the egg wash. Sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds. Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes, or until the tops of the buns are a deep, golden brown. Enjoy immediately or keep for days in an airtight container. Re-warm in a 350°F oven for a couple minutes before eating.
Source: Adapted from Brown-Eyed Baker.
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