Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese. ~ CK Chesterton

Howdy Yall! It's time to lick your lips and drool as we discuss yummy vittles and Texas testaments to taste!

I hope you enjoy your time with us. Please be sure to drop by and leave a message or a hello. We want to know how to better serve you!

~Blue Zebra

Monday, September 10, 2007

A Perfect Set of Buns!

I know, I know, mille apologies for taking so long to put the newest post together, but once you see the subject you will understand. Some posts just take longer than others. And when you are dealing with perfection, well the extra time should be understandable. Perfection does not come quickly!

Have you ever wished you had perfect buns? I know I have! For the first time it’s possible for millions of cooks to feel the confidence that having firm, good looking buns gives and it won’t even require a torture device hawked by Suzanne Sommers to
get them! All it takes is a little swirl here, a flourish there and a nice stretch or two. Give it a little time and “Bob’s your uncle.” You will have a set of buns that will make you the envy of the neighborhood.

Of course there’s a secret or two involved in the process, but nothing too strenuous and certainly nothing too mentally

taxing. I only know that once you experience them for the first time it will change your life. You will leap tall buildings at a single bound, sing and tip-toe through a verse of “I Could Have Danced All Night” and bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan. I can guarantee once you see how simple it is to have the loveliest buns on Wysteria Lane, you will never again seek to buy them.

I must give credit where credit is due. I didn’t invent the perfect buns. Again, the credit must go to my friend, Bill Wraith, a most excellent baker who is an incredible scientist and teacher. I have seen three people including myself reproduce gorgeous buns so am convinced this recipe is one for success and pure brilliance. Let’s face it, having inferior buns can completely ruin the appearance of many dishy showstoppers. So don’t let it happen to you.

The Perfect Buns
By Bill Wraith
Methodology amended by Blue Zebra
Yield 10-12 buns

650 grams AP Flour (22.831 oz
290 grams Water (10.186 oz)
200 grams Milk (7.025 oz)
30 grams Olive oil (1.054 oz)
13 grams Salt (2.75 tsp)
1 package active dry yeast (2-1/4 tsp)

Mix flour, water, milk together until it looks like a shaggy mess. Let it sit for 20 minutes. This is considered the autolyse period. It is the period when gluten begins to form and the flour becomes fully hydrated from the liquid components of your recipe.

Perform a frissage movement on the dough. Using the heel of your hand, smear walnut size pieces of dough along the counter in order to break up any clumps left in the dough. Frissage also helps to continue the gluten development begun with the autolyse phase.

This recipe is very forgiving. I accidentally missed my 25 minute timer for the autolyse and let it go a full hour. You can see the yeast were particularly active and the dough rose! No problems. I simply degassed the dough (pressed out all the air), and continued with the next step of kneading.

It's time to knead in the remaining ingredients. Start by kneading in the yeast until completely incorporated. After the yeast, knead in salt and olive oil, again, folding and kneading until completely worked throughout dough. Knead dough about 5-10 minutes. This is a large window of variability. I knead by hand and usually knead in 3-5 minute increments. Nothing harsh, just a smooth rolling motion of the dough.I will often cover the dough with the top of a bowl and let it rest for about 15 minutes, then return and knead another 3-5 minutes. Letting the dough rest between kneading episodes does a couple of things. It allows gluten to continue developing as the dough relaxes between sessions. Resting allows the temperature of the dough to diminish, since the friction from kneading causes the temperature to rise in the dough.

Once the dough reaches the window pane stage*, it is ready to undergo bulk or primary fermentation. This is about a one to one and a half hour timespan when the dough is coming close to doubling for the first time and when flavors are developing.

During the bulk fermentation timeframe, I will perform anywhere from 2-4 sessions of the Stretch N Fold in order to further increase the dough strength. Increasing the strength of the dough allows the gluten strands to trap flavor components and CO2 gas within it's protein web, which causes the dough to rise.After the dough doubles for the first time, turn out the dough and scale it. Scaling means to portion the dough into units. You can use a scale for extra accuracy or eyeball it. Roll the dough into balls for hamburger buns or ropes for hotdog buns. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the buns to rise a final time. I use parchment paper to place the final bun dough on for rising and cooking. I also make sure that by the time the buns are fully risen prior to cooking, their sides will lightly touch. This way, they will have two soft surfaces on the sides.

Cook buns for 10-15 minutes at 460 degrees F. Buns will have a great oven spring (that means they will rise significantly in the oven). As soon as the buns are done (about 205degrees F internal temperature), place them in a plastic bag and allow them to cool slightly. The bag will trap steam and make the outer surface soft instead of crispy. Use immediately for best results.

Buns can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Blue Zebra NOTE:
This recipe is very forgiving and easy. Errors and time lapses still result in great tasting bread. You can really feel the dough change dimension as you knead it. It's excellent for beginner bakers. If you have 30 active minutes to cook, make these buns. They cost about $1.00 for all of them and the taste is so far superior to store bought buns.

Another thing to note...I added all the ingredients during the so-called "autolyse" period. Purists and professional or artisan bakers would spank me on this telling me in no uncertain terms that I did not use an "autolyse" period if I added salt, oil, and yeast. Autolyse, technically speaking, is only the stage where liquid and flours are allowed to mix and marry and become fully hydrated. But again, I want time saving and I doubt very seriously if the sophistication of my palette will be able to notice the difference. So far, I have not noticed any delay of yeast performance or impeeded risings because of doing this, which leads me to believe even more, that yeast and risen doughs are more forgiving than anyone gives them credit for being!


Magpie said...

Sounds good. I suppose a sprinkle of whole wheat flour would be okay?

And, "bob's your uncle"! I love that phrase.

Blue Zebra said...

Hi Magpie I almost always add a couple of tablespoons of whole wheat flour to my doughs. I think it increases the nuttiness flavor factor???! :D

Good to see you here!

neil said...

Over here in Oz we call them rolls, but then I would never be able to say what a sweet set of buns you've got, lol. They look great.

Blue Zebra said...

Hi Neil, sorry I missed your post! We some rolls, rolls here and hotdog and hamburger rolls, buns! :D

Hope you try making them. They are dead easy!


Also, what kinds of chili powder are you interested in?

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I say there these are a perfect set of buns with a totally awesome perfect post! Really well done!

Blue Zebra said...

Hi Tanna! How is life in Seattle! I highly recommend having perfect buns! You get lots of admiration as a result! :D ;)

lucette said...

I've had 2 hamburger bun disasters, so I'm looking forward to trying this--very helpful directions.

Blue Zebra said...

Hi Lucette, let me know if you have any trouble with them. I found this a very forgiving recipe. We just ate the last of the buns today so I'm going to remake them. I think you will love these!

Arabic Bites said...

Just Beautiful!


Blue Zebra said...

Hi zainab, coming from you that is high praise! Your food, especially all of your baked goods are divine!! :D