I’m so excited to finally share this news with you–someone’s got a bun in the oven, and I’ll let you guess who it is!
What?! No, not me! Fritz and I are still students, living on loans and a tight budget. Let’s get serious, please!
Yes–it’s my beautiful, wise, and soon mommy-to-be big sister, Erin:
Isn’t that just the cutest baby belly you have ever seen? That was taken two weeks ago, and now Erin is at 13 weeks and says her belly is growing more every day. Meet Sprout (otherwise known as Dub):
I know. I can’t believe that I’m going to be a first-time aunt–and with great power comes great responsibility (…what?). Henry has been carefully stockpiling his favorite toys under the oven to share when his little cousin comes around for the first time, Fritz has a pile of baby toothbrushes and dental instructions ready to go (especially since Sprout is already developing his teeth!), and I have been busily scheming ways to steal the favorite auntie crown from my other sisters via baked goods and sweet treats (back off, ladies!).
So to show solidarity between my big sis and I, I decide to bake some buns in my own oven. The kind of buns that don’t need to be carried around for 40 weeks or fed and clothed once they’re finished baking.
The Best Sandwich Buns (from Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads)
- 5 C all-purpose flour
- 2 pkgs dry yeast (that’s 4 1/2 t, you guys)
- 1 T salt (I used a teensy bit less)
- 2 T butter, room temperature
- 2 C hot water
- Milk to brush on top
- sesame seeds or poppy seeds (or both!) to garnish
As a side note–Erin used to have bread baking fits when we were in high school, and would make approximately 20 loaves of the best white bread ever in a few hours that the family would frantically consume before nightfall. So the smell of any yeasted bread rising always makes me think of her. That lucky Sprout, man.
In the bowl of your mixer, add 2 C flour, the salt, and the yeast, and briefly mix to combine. While mixing with the flat beater, add the butter and hot water, continuing to mix until a smooth batter forms. Add the remaining flour 1/2 C at a time until the dough forms a shaggy mass–it’s okay if you don’t use all five cups, I ended at 4 1/2.
Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for 8 minutes, sprinkling in a little flour if necessary to keep the dough from sticking to the sides (it should form a ball around the dough hook, but still be soft and a little sticky to the touch). Lightly grease a bowl, then place the dough in it, cover tightly with Saran wrap, and move to a warm place to rise until doubled in size (this is quick–about a half an hour).
I always put rising dough in our bedroom closet. It’s so hot in there! Is that weird?
Once the dough is ready, place it on a floured surface and divide into 12 parts (this recipe makes a dozen large buns). Shape each one into a ball, then cover in wax paper to rest for a few minutes. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper in the meantime. Once they’ve sufficiently rested, flatten them into circles about four inches in diameter and lay them on the parchment paper.
Cover them with wax paper and allow them to rise for another 30-35 minutes, until they are soft and puffy-looking. Preheat the oven 20 minutes before baking to 400 degrees. Right before the buns go in, brush the tops with milk and sprinkle them with sesame or poppy seeds (or both!).
Bake for 15-20 minutes until the tops are a light golden brown. If you aren’t sure if they are done (the tops will still look pretty light), flip them over and check to see if the bottoms are browned. If they are, take ‘em out and let them cool on a rack.
These really are the perfect sandwich buns–and I know, because Fritz is super picky about having the ideal ratio of bread to sandwich innards, and he ate two different sandwiches for dinner, very enthusiastically.
The buns have a satisfying crunch on the outside but are so soft and fluffy on the inside. They taste of yeast, salt, and seeds but don’t distract from the sandwich. And that is the mark of a prime sandwich bun.
Plus, Bernard Clayton says that you can freeze these babies for up to a year! So if you have a picky sandwich bread eater (ahem, Fritz!), it might be worth your while to make a double batch and put them away for special occasions.
And if you have the other kind of bun in the oven, I’m really super excited for you…but it’s not going to be as cute as my future niece or nephew. Sorry, but genetics are a powerful thing!
Oh, and speaking of additions to the family, Fritz and I picked up a coffee table on sale (thank you Labor Day!) at the thrift store for $12!