One of the most common “make do” dinners is grabbing take-out burgers, right? Well, at our house, that comes with a $50 price tag, so it’s a no-go… that’s half the weekly grocery budget blown on one unsatisfying meal.
We’ve been in a long-term habit of making seasoned beef patties that tuck into the freezer, so grilling homemade burgers is a very fast Did It Ourselves option, but there’s the Nasty Factory Buns problem. I’m not a fan of chemical bread. Certainly not of the $1 “buns” that would fit best in our budget.
Then, I found a bun recipe through Taste of Home, and gave it a try. If you can use a stand mixer, these really do take about 35 minutes from pulling out the flour, to pulling the buns from the oven. They’re sturdy enough to hold up to plenty of fillings, but are nice and smooshy and soft at the same time!
- 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
- 1-1/4 cups warm water (comfortable on the wrist)
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 egg (optional… I often forget it. No biggie. You’ll just use a titch less flour.)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 to 3-1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
In a large bowl, whisk the yeast, water, oil, and sugar. Let this mixture stand for five minutes to get the yeast going. Whisk again; it will be creamy-looking, and may be a bit bubbly or foamy.
Whisk in the egg (if you’re using it) and salt, and about half the flour; whisk or stir briskly to combine them smoothly. Beat in additional flour to make a soft, smooth dough; depending on the humidity, you may need a bit more than 3-1/2 cups total. If you’re kneading by hand, work about 3-5 minutes until springy. If in a stand mixer, beat the crud out of it for a few minutes, and it’ll stop trying to stick to the bowl. It’s a soft dough.
Divide the dough into 12 even pieces for sandwich buns, or 20 to 24 even pieces for smaller dinner rolls. To form a nice ball, plop the dough piece in a bit of flour, and then into the palm of your left hand. Make a loose O shape with the thumb and forefinger of your left hand. Use the fingers of your right hand to push the ball gently into the O, pinching the dough edges together near your left palm. Repeat this pushing/pinching a few times to create a nice smooth-topped ball of dough.
For sandwich or burger buns, flatten the dough ball slightly, to about 1/2” thick, and place the shaped dough on a lightly oiled baking sheet (I prefer and recommend putting them on plain parchment paper instead, though), spacing the pieces 2-3” apart (they expand quite a lot during baking).
For dinner rolls, place the dough balls on piece of parchment and baking sheet about 1” apart for rolls that will touch and pull easily apart, and about 2” apart for rolls that will stay more separate,with a soft crust all the way around.
Let the dough rest for 10 minutes, or while the oven pre-heats to 425°. Bake for 8-12 minutes, until the rolls are golden brown. Let the rolls sit on the pan a few minutes, then remove them to a cooling rack to cool completely.
FOR CARAWAY RYE ROLLS:
Make as above, omitting the egg because I totally forgot about it, but use an extra teaspoon of salt, and replace about 1/3 of the flour with rye flour. Add a good tablespoon of dried caraway to the water/yeast mixture so the flavor permeates the dough.
Rye flour has less gluten than wheat, and I left the dough very sticky for a full first raise to help develop some spring. The proofed dough was less sticky, but still not as springy as all-wheat dough, so don’t expect that. It’s more like forming clay… and the buns do not puff as much, so let them raise on the counter a good 20 minutes at least. Pressing them to 1/2″ tall gave a 1″ tall bun, and they were delightful.
If you have vital wheat gluten, you could add some for a taller rise.
FOR CINNAMON ROLLS FROM THIS DOUGH:
Go back to the original, non-rye recipe above.
Right after it’s mixed (I use a stand mixer), I roll it out into a good-sized rectangle.Mix about 2 tablespoons of Saigon cinnamon, a drop or two of vanilla, about 1/4 cup brown sugar, and about 1/4 cup melted butter together into a smooth slurry, and spread it on the dough. Roll up and cut about 1.5″ thick (should make between 12 and 15 rolls depending on how you roll and cut).
In a 9×13 cake pan: line with parchment paper, and grate hard butter into the bottom (about 1/4 cup) and sprinkle with a bit more brown sugar, which all melts together into a goo.
Arrange rolls in the pan fairly loosely, and squash them down (they expand a ton, and if you don’t squash them, they go too high in the pan and don’t get baked in the middle.
Heat the oven to 400* and let the rolls sit on the counter while it heats. Bake about 18 minutes, until golden brown on top. Cool about 10 minutes, and drizzle with your choice of glaze… I made up one with vanilla, powdered sugar, and a bit of milk.
Raisins can be rolled up in the rolls if you are a gross heathen. Likewise, craisins if you so desire, or nuts, or maraschino cherries, or other tasty things.
Buns, buns, buns, bun. Good Did It Ourselves buns are a delight!