Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Anything is better on a bun

The last few days have been exciting for me. I am a genealogy buff, and for the last 20 years I have been searching for clues on my mother's family with no success. Suddenly I found a clue that paid off big time, and I have been happily learning about those who were influential in the creation of the cake that is me. It's been a very interesting recipe , to be sure ! Such excitement makes mundane things like eating, sleeping and such feel like a distraction. In such times, nothing could be more welcome fair than a good sandwich. But a good sandwich must begin with good bread, or better yet a good bun !

Sandwich buns have been a little tricky to make. Not the dough, but the forming of the dough. It seems like a silly thing, but it can trip a person up. One day I came across a good technique, and rolls became a simple matter to create. Burgers, salad fillings and even the simple PB and J became a much nicer thing due to these home made rolls !

Sandwich Rolls
(Adapted from King Arthur)
Makes 6 rolls

    3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
    1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
    1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
    1 1/4 teaspoons salt
    1 large egg
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    3/4 cup water

Manual Method: In a large bowl, or the bowl of your electric mixer, combine all of the ingredients, stirring till the dough forms a cohesive mass and begins to clear the sides of the bowl. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, then allow it to rest for 10 minutes (which gives the dough a chance to absorb the liquid, and the gluten in the flour a chance to relax.)Knead the dough for an additional 5 minutes, or until it's smooth and supple. The dough should be quite stiff, but not at all "gnarly;" adjust its consistency with additional flour or water, as necessary. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl or dough-rising bucket, cover the bowl or bucket, and allow the dough to rise till it's noticeably puffy, about 1 hour.

Bread Machine Method: Place all of the ingredients into the pan of your machine, program the machine for manual or dough, and press start. About 10 minutes before the end of the final kneading cycle, examine the dough's consistency; it should be quite stiff, but not at all "gnarly;" adjust it consistency with additional flour or water, as necessary. Allow the machine to complete its cycle.

Shaping: Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and divide it into six equal pieces. Shape the pieces into round balls, and place them on a lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheet and press gently to flatten the ball slightly. Cover the rolls, and allow them to rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until they've almost doubled in volume.  Dip tops in milk and coat with poppy or sesame seeds,if desired.

Bake the rolls in a preheated 425°F oven for 15 to 17 minutes, or until they're golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and cool on a wire rack.

I make these in a triple batch  and freeze the extras so I can pull them out and have fresher rolls more often. Such a step allows me to continue the search and marvel at the lives of the people I came from in days gone by. That, and keeping up with the bird visitors here !

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