A while ago our friend and un-indicted co-conspirator GRS was looking for a recipe for making a soft bread for his daughter (who, like most daughters totally owns her daddy), and I tried and failed to come up with a bread that would suit his needs.
Today I stand before you triumphant, if not immodest.
This is an adaptation from one of those artisian-breads-in-5-minutes-a-day thingies. The secret to those things, by the way, is to make so much dough on the weekend that you pull off only what you need during that 5 minutes each day the rest of the week. More on that later, in the Bonus.
I stumbled upon this bread dough when trying to work through a baking problem for a friend of mine who runs a small diner in town. He does some lobster rolls during the summer and he was unhappy with the standard issue hot dog bun you can find at the market. Anyway, after much plodding along we developed a pretty fool-proof bun recipe than I think not only works for his lobster roll, I think it will work for GRS’ little girl.
The secret here, not surprisingly, is the potato flour and the dried milk. These yield very soft breads. Experienced cake bakers will often add a small measure of potato flour to their batter to make an even more tender cake crumb. The other secret is to not overwork the dough. You don’t want a high gluten product in the end, you want something Wonder bread soft. Err on the side of under-mixing it. You just have to trust me on this.
As always, I measure by weight, but I know most people don’t. Still, if you have a scale please use it.
- 4 cups (17 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) sugar (or more if you like a sweeter product)
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup (2 ounces, 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, diced into bits. Keep it cold
6 tablespoons (2 1/4 ounces) potato flour (or 1/2 cup (1 ounce) dried mashed potato flakes if you cannot find the ‘tater flour)
6 tablespoons (2 ounces) non-fat dry milk
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) water
1 teaspoon instant yeast
- Combine all of the ingredients into your mixer and mix until it makes a shaggy blob.
- Let the dough rest for about 15 minutes so that the flour absorbs all the moisture.
- Resume kneading the dough for about 5 minutes or until it looks smooth, elastic, and kind of sticky.
- Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and put in the fridge to rise overnight. The next day you will shape and bake off the rolls.
If you are making hot dog, hamburger buns, dinner rolls:
- Hotdog buns are about 3 oz. of dough and shape it like a play dough tube about the size of the hot dog.
- Hamburger buns are about 4 oz of dough that you shape into a ball and then flatten.
- Dinner rolls are about 2 oz of dough rolled into a ball.
I roll these things out on a silpat mat or on a baking parchment, which I then cover with a piece of plastic wrap that I have sprayed with oil and let it rise, until about double in height. I slip the parchment/silpat onto a baking sheet when risen and remove the plastic wrap.
Slide into a 375° over for about 10 – 12 minutes for buns/rolls. Because of the sugar, the tops will brown nicely, but are not crunchy. Think Thanksgiving dinner rolls, sort of like that.
This recipe makes about 36 oz. of dough, which is enough for 12 hotdog buns or 8 hamburger buns. I think this will make at least 2 regular sized loaves of bread. I would put them in a well-buttered pan and check on them at the 20-minute mark and then every 5 – 7 minutes thereafter until I thought that they were done.
You knew this was coming, right?
The 5-minutes a day thing: Because of the low amount of yeast-to-flour ratio in this recipe, the yeast will continue to feed on the flour for quite a long time before dying or making that bad sour smell. This means you can pull of some dough and bake this daily and have fresh rolls with dinner nightly. My last two batches of this were good for 6 days. It is becoming a habit here at the hut.