I haven’t bought bread in two years. Sure, there’s the one-off, like for Easter when I couldn’t bear to spend the time baking beautiful loaves of bread just to rip them up for an egg bake. But, for all intents and purposes, I haven’t bought bread in two years. Until I got my stand mixer for Christmas last year I made my dough in my bread machine and then shaped and baked it as applicable. I would bake the occasional loaf in the bread machine, but not very often. I think the loaves just turn out nicer when they’re baked in the oven. Also, 95% of the bread I make isn’t in loaf form anyway. I make buns. Lots of buns. I tried a couple different bun recipes until I stumbled across this one from Good Cheap Eats. After many iterations of making it, it evolved into the recipe I use today.
I can’t tell you how much money I’ve saved by making my bread at home. I buy a 25 pound bag of bread flour every three months or so for about $10, two pounds of yeast is about $5 at Sam’s Club and that lasts me about a year. However, it also saves me a 20 mile round trip to the grocery store where I would inevitably buy more than just bread. Even though the process of making bread start to finish takes longer than a trip to the grocery store, the actual hands-on time is less. And bonus: there aren’t any ingredients you can’t pronounce.
Now, a few notes on the recipe… For the liquid I use whole milk and a little water. I used to buy 1% milk and these turned out awesome, so when I switched to buying whole milk I started diluting it slightly in hopes of the same results. Necessary? I don’t know, but I liked the results so I stuck with it. So, if you’re using skim or 1% you can omit the water and just use a cup and a quarter of milk. I can’t speak for 2% though, as I’ve never used it.
The recipe yields 12 hamburger-sized buns, but if you want a dinner roll or slider size you can divide the dough into 16 portions. You can also form these into hot dog or brat buns and they are just as delicious. However, they have the tendency to look a little wonky. I’ve got a few ideas as to how to make them consistently look normal, I’ll keep you updated. In the meantime… enjoy this recipe!
adapted from Good Cheap Eats
1 cup whole milk, warmed to about 105 degrees
1/4 cup water, warmed to about 105 degrees
2 1/2 tsp instant yeast
3 TBSP sugar
1 egg, room temperature
6 TBSP canola oil
4 cups bread flour
2 tsp salt
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water
Stand Mixer Dough Directions:
In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the milk, water, yeast, and sugar. Let stand for 3-5 minutes until the yeast starts to activate.
Add egg, oil, flour, and salt (I layer it in this order so the salt doesn’t combine with the yeast too soon). Mix until just combined. You can use the paddle attachment but it’s just as easy to use a spatula or wooden spoon.
Knead with the dough hook for 10 minutes. I usually scrape down the sides once – about halfway through.
Cover with a kitchen towel and place in a warm spot to rise until doubled in size, about 30-40 minutes.
Bread Machine Dough Directions:
Layer ingredients in your bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. For mine it’s milk, water, sugar, egg, oil, salt, flour, yeast, but double check what yours recommends. Be sure to select the ‘dough’ setting and start your machine. During the first mix I always take a rubber spatula and make sure all the flour from the corners gets incorporated.
Once your dough has risen (or your bread machine cycle is complete), divide it into 12 equal portions. Now here’s my secret: Don’t roll them into balls like you would play-dough! Have you seen videos of people making fresh mozzarella cheese? Where they make a circle with their thumb and forefinger on one hand and push the wad of fresh cheese through with the other, then pinch and twist the bottom? Do that. Twice for each bun. That will keep your buns from becoming oddly misshapen and keep them nice and fluffy.
Place the formed buns on a baking sheet that you’ve sprayed with a little non-stick spray (or lined with parchment or a silicone mat), then cover with a kitchen towel and put them in a warm spot to rise (I usually turn my oven on for a minute or two while I’m forming the buns then turn it off and stick them in to rise). Let them rise until they’re at least doubled in size. Here’s where I’ve found a little difference between the stand mixer and the bread machine – it takes about 45 minutes for the stand mixer buns to rise while it takes the bread machine buns about an hour.
Once the buns have risen, preheat the oven to 350 degrees (remember to take the buns out of the oven first if you let them rise in the oven). If you want to add sesame seeds to the top, you can do that now. Very gently brush with an egg white whisked with 1 tablespoon water and sprinkle sesame seeds over the top. Bake for 15-20 minutes. My oven takes 19. You want them to be nice and golden, you’re looking for a color slightly darker than store-bought hamburger buns, as they seem to lighten up a bit once they’ve cooled.
Makes 12 hamburger-sized buns