Finally, we had a break from the rain and dreariness that has plagued us for the past week. Rain is romantic for about the first ten minutes; after that I’m ready for sunshine again. Today’s weather was so nice that as I was thinking about dinner my mind turned to exciting “spring/summer” options: grilled asparagus that has been marinated in a garlic vinaigrette and Brant’s amazing hamburgers served with these delicious buns. Of course, then I remembered that we have leftovers. Again. I cooked up a storm last week and we’ve been eating the same two meals over and over again ever since. I love lasagna and chicken tikka masala. I really, really do. The first time. And the second. And maybe even the third. But after a week of eating lasagna for lunch and Indian food for dinner, I’m ready for a change.
In our house, warmer days come hand-in-hand with bar-b-cueing. Brant found a great deal on some eco friendly charcoal and we bought 50 bags. As I’ve mentioned before – the Wongs don’t do anything unless they do it in excess. For me, grilling means easy dinners as Brant is the bbq master and therefore in charge of the main dish. My job is simply to throw together a veggie and maybe a loaf of bread. And dessert. Let’s never forget dessert.
Most people would argue that the point of bar-b-cuing is to serve a no-hassle meal. Therefore, they might wonder why I would complicate things by making my own buns instead of buying some ready-made ones from the store. I can understand their confusion. I really can. I’m just curious, though. Do your store-bought buns taste as good as these?
(Unless you’re feeding a crowd, I recommend freezing half the dough after you have let it have it’s first rise. Let it thaw, and continue from there!)
3 tbsp. warm milk
1 cup warm water
2 tsp. instant yeast
2½ tbsp. sugar
1½ tsp. salt
1 large egg
3 1/3 cups bread flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2½ tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
for the topping:
1 large egg beaten with 1 tbsp. water, for egg wash
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the milk, water, yeast, sugar, salt and egg. Mix briefly to combine. Add the flours to the bowl, and mix until incorporated. Mix in the butter. Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed for about 6-8 minutes. The dough will be somewhat tacky, but you want to avoid adding too much extra flour which will create tough buns.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1-2 hours.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Using a dough scraper, divide the dough into 12 equal parts. Gently roll each portion of dough into a ball and place on the baking sheet, 2-3 inches apart. Cover loosely with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let rise again, 1-2 hours, until puffed up and nearly doubled.
Set a large metal pan of water on the lowest rack of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400˚ F with a rack in the center. Brush the tops of the buns lightly with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake the buns about 12 minutes rotating halfway through baking, until the tops are golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.