Yeasted Buns: Everyone Will Love Your Buns

yeasted4A slice of bread is nice, but a yeasty bun or dinner roll is a whole other level of good. If you think about it, it’s a personal-sized  loaf of bread.  A crusty, crunchy,  chewy or fluffy loaf, just waiting for butter—or maybe peanut  butter, jam, or a couple of slices of last night’s roast.

When it comes to baking breads  and rolls, there are two different types of yeast you might use. The first is active dry yeast, and the second  is instant, rapid-rise, or quick- rise yeast. (The names  differ depending on the brand.)

Active dry yeast is like a marathon  runner.  It rises steadily and continues  to do so for a long time. Rapid-rise yeast is more like a sprinter. It is fast acting, but it might not have the lasting power for long or multiple rises.

Another important difference is the variation between brands  of active dry yeasts. Some brands  of active dry yeast have a much larger pellet size—smaller than mustard seeds,  but large enough so you can see individual pieces.  If you use that yeast, you need to let it soften in the water before adding flour and beginning the mixing process.

With other brands  (Red Star Yeast is one), the bits of active dry yeast are much smaller, almost like cornmeal.  If you use this type of active dry yeast, you don’t need to let it soften before proceeding  to mix the dough.

yeasted2YEAST TIPS

When covering a baking sheet  full of buns,  use an identical-size baking sheet  as a lid, rather than trying to cover the sheet  with plastic wrap.

You can tell that buns are fully risen if you touch them lightly with a fingertip and the indentation  remains or fills in slowly.

It’s important not to kill your yeast with hot water. The water should feel warm to the touch, but not at all hot (105-115 degrees).

RYE BUNS

yeasted3Rye flour comes in many different varieties, from light rye to dark rye to pumpernickel. Unfortunately, many supermarkets  don’t carry all those varieties, so use whatever is available.

MAKES 12 BUNS

  • 1 cup lukewarm water (105-115  degrees)
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons (1 package) active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups (9 ounces) bread flour
  • 1 cup (4-1/2 ounces) rye flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine all the ingredients. Mix slowly until mostly combined, and then increase the speed and knead (using that dough hook) until the dough is smooth and elastic. (COOK’S NOTE: You can also mix the dough in a standard  mixing bowl and knead it by hand.)

Cover the bowl and set it aside in a warm place to rise until the dough is doubled in size—about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Flour your work surface  and turn out the dough. Divide the dough into 12 evenly sized pieces.  Roll each  piece into a ball and place the balls on the baking sheet, leaving room between them for rising.

Cover the baking sheet  and set aside to rise until doubled in size.

When the buns have risen, bake them at 350 degrees until nicely browned—20-25 minutes.

 

yeasted4OVERNIGHT EGG AND POTATO BUNS

A long, slow rise yields more flavorful buns, but the real advantage  is that you can make the dough the day before you need the buns,  and then bake them right before dinner.

MAKES 12 BUNS

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 large egg
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons (1 package) active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 cups (13-1/2 ounces) bread flour
  • 1/2 cup instant mashed potato flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Spray a 9×13 baking pan with baking spray—it’s not absolutely necessary, but it will help ensure that the buns won’t stick.

In the bowl of a stand  mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine all the ingredients. Mix slowly  until mostly combined, and then increase the speed and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. (COOK’S NOTE: You can also mix the dough in a standard mixing bowl and knead it by hand.)

Cover the bowl and set it aside in a warm place to rise until the dough is doubled in size—about 1 hour.

Flour your work surface  and turn out the dough. Divide the dough into 12 evenly sized pieces.  Roll each  piece into a ball and place the balls in the baking pan. When they rise, they will touch, but that’s  fine— you’ll have pull-apart buns that will have soft sides.

Cover the pan and place it in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours—or up to 24 hours.

When you’re ready to bake, remove the buns from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 350 degrees  Fahrenheit.  When the oven is heated, remove the cover from the pan and bake the buns until they’re nicely browned—about  25 minutes.

yeasted5OLIVE AND FETA SOFT BREADSTICKS

This dough might seem a little firm after kneading, but the olives and the feta cheese  add moisture  and will soften the dough as you knead them in.

MAKES 12 BREADSTICKS

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons (1 package) active dry yeast
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 cup white wheat (or whole wheat) flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sliced  or chopped black or Kalamata olives
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese

In the bowl of a stand  mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine all the ingredients except the olives and the feta. Mix slowly  until mostly combined, and then increase the speed and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. (COOK’S NOTE: You can also mix the dough in a standard mixing bowl and knead it by hand.)

Knead in the olives and the feta by hand.

Cover the bowl and set it aside in a warm place to rise until the dough is doubled in size—about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Flour your work surface  and turn out the dough. Divide into 12 evenly sized pieces.  Roll each  piece into a rope about 8 inches long. Place 6 ropes on each baking sheet, leaving room between them for rising.

Cover the baking sheet  and set it aside to rise until the ropes have doubled in size.

When the ropes (breadsticks) have risen, bake them at 375 degrees

Fahrenheit until nicely browned—25-30  minutes.

yeasted6GARLIC KNOTS

Have you ever wondered why garlic bread  and typical garlic knots have the garlic flavor on the outside of the bread rather than incorporated in the dough? It’s because garlic can slow down or stall the yeast activity. Commercial garlic oils don’t affect the yeast as much, so they can be used to flavor the dough, as called for in this recipe.

MAKES 12 GARLIC KNOTS

  • 1 cup lukewarm water (105-115  degrees)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons (1 package) active dry yeast
  • 3 cups (13-1/2 ounces) bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon garlic oil
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In the bowl of a stand  mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine all the ingredients except the cheddar cheese. Mix slowly  until mostly combined, then increase the mixer speed and knead (with that dough hook) until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Add the cheese  and continue mixing just until the cheese is well incorporated in the dough. (COOK’S NOTE: You can also mix the dough in a standard mixing bowl and knead it by hand.)

Cover the bowl and set it aside in a warm place to rise until the dough is doubled in size—about 1 hour.

Preheat  your oven to 350 degrees  Fahrenheit  and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Flour your work surface and turn out the dough. Divide into 12 evenly sized pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about 7 to 8 inches long, and then tie each piece into a simple knot. Place the knots on the baking sheet, leaving room between them for rising.

Cover the baking sheet  and set aside to rise until the knots have doubled in size.

When the knots have risen, bake them at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until nicely browned—about  25 minutes.

yeasted7SUPER-FAST WHOLE WHEAT AND SESAME  BUNS

Sometimes you want buns right away, and these buns deliver. Since fast- risen dough isn’t quite as flavorful as dough that has a slower rise, the flavor here is amped up with sesame seeds mixed right into the dough.

MAKES 12 BUNS

  • 2 cups (9 ounces) bread flour
  • 1 cup (4-1/2 ounces) whole wheat flour
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons (1 package) instant or quick-rise yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter – softened  or cut in small bits
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 cup cold water (or as needed)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the dough hook, place the bread flour, whole wheat flour, yeast, sugar, salt, butter and sesame seeds. Pulse a few times to mix the ingredients.

With the food processor running, pour in the water as fast as the flour can absorb it. When the dough begins clumping together, you have added enough water. You might need less, or perhaps a little more, than one cup.

Continue processing until the dough forms a ball that cleans the sides of the bowl. Remove the cover of the food processor and touch the dough.  If it’s cool to the touch, put the lid back on and process for another 30 seconds, then check again. Keep processing and checking until the dough feels slightly warm—but not hot.

Put the lid on the processor and let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Flour your work surface  and turn out the dough. Divide into 12 evenly sized pieces.  Roll each piece into a ball and place the balls on the baking sheet,  leaving room between them for rising. Cover the baking sheet and set aside to rise until the rolls have doubled in size.

Tip: To speed up the rise even more, place a second baking sheet in the oven while the oven is preheating. When the buns are formed and are arranged on the baking sheet, remove the heated pan from the oven and use it as a lid for the rising buns.

When the buns have risen, bake them at 350 degrees until nicely browned—20-25 minutes.

Donna Currie

Donna Currie is a Colorado-based food writer who blogs at Cookistry (www.cookistry.com) and loves to test unusual cooking gadgets. While she enjoys all sorts of cooking and baking, she has a particular love for bread baking. Her first cookbook, Make Ahead Bread, was released on November 4, 2014.

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