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Summer is the time of year when everyone thinks about grilling outdoors. Homemade buns make hamburgers and hot dogs taste out of this world. If you live in an area where the temperature gets so hot you don't want to heat up your oven, make a bunch of buns early in the season and freeze them. To give them a heartier texture, you can substitute 2 cups of King Arthur Traditional Whole Wheat Flour for an equal amount of King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour.
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 packets or 2 scant tablespoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
2 cups warm milk (105°F to 115°F)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons salt
6 to 7 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour*
egg wash: 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
sesame, poppy or caraway seeds or coarse salt (optional)
*We give you this fairly wide variation for a couple of reasons. First, you'll find in the summer that you'll need a bit more flour to absorb a given amount of liquid than you will in the winter. This is because it's humid and flour acts somewhat like a slightly dampened sponge as a result.
Second, this particular dough should be quite slack, i.e., very relaxed in order to make soft and tender buns. So you want to add only enough more flour, past the 6-cup point, to make the dough just kneadable; sprinkling only enough more to keep it from sticking to you or the board.
Mixing: In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar and then the yeast in the warm water. Add the milk, oil, salt and 3 cups of flour to the yeast mixture. Beat vigorously for 2 minutes.
Gradually add flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface.
Kneading: Knead until you have a smooth, elastic dough. Because this dough is so slack, you may find that a bowl scraper or bench knife can be helpful in scooping up the dough and folding it over on itself.
Rising: Put the dough into an oiled bowl. Turn once to coat the entire ball of dough with oil. Cover with a tightly-woven dampened towel and let rise until doubled, about one hour.
Shaping: Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface. Divide into 18 equal pieces. This is done most easily by dividing the dough first into thirds, then those thirds into halves, then the halves into thirds.
Shape each piece into a ball. For hamburger buns, flatten the balls into 3 1/2-inch disks. For hot-dog buns, roll the balls into cylinders, 4 1/2-inches in length. Flatten the cylinders slightly; dough rises more in the center so this will give a gently rounded top versus a high top.
For soft-sided buns, place them on a well-seasoned baking sheet a half inch apart so they'll grow together when they rise. For crisper buns, place them three inches apart.
Second Rising: Cover with a towel and let rise until almost doubled, about 45 minutes.
Baking: Fifteen minutes before you want to bake your buns, preheat your oven to 400°F. Just before baking, lightly brush the tops of the buns with the egg wash and sprinkle with whatever seeds strike your fancy.
Bake for 20 minutes or until the internal temperature of the bread reaches 190°F. (A dough thermometer takes the guesswork out of this.)
When the buns are done, remove them from the baking sheet to cool on a wire rack. This will prevent the crust from becoming soggy.
Nutrition information per serving (1 bun, 93 g): 206 cal, 3 g fat, 7 g protein, 37 g complex carbohydrates, 1 g sugar, 1 g dietary fiber, 17 mg cholesterol, 255 mg sodium, 119 mg potassium, 2 mg iron, 120 mg calcium, 83 mg phosphorus.
This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. III, No. 5, May-June 1992 issue.