Did you know that soft, fluffy-yet-sturdy, professional looking homemade hot dog buns are very easily within your reach? It's true. To this point, most of the bread products I've made have been vaguely the same... heavy, a little too dense, with the same small crumb. These beautiful buns are anything but. And let's not even begin to talk about the smell that made me unbearably hungry at 2:30pm.
We had these with locally made deli hot dogs, ketchup, and relish. This could be a tall order for your ordinary bun... lots of dense, wet fillings to make it fall apart. But these buns? They stood up admirably (and then asked for more).
I am not even done being impressed with myself yet. Is that bad?
Hot Dog! Buns! (recipe and method adapted a bit from the "Bread Baker's Apprentice," by Peter Reinhart)
-4 cups unbleached bread flour
-3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
-1 1/2 teaspoons salt
-3 1/4 tablespoons sugar
-1/4 cup powdered milk
-1 large egg, lightly beaten
-3 1/4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
-2 teaspoons active dry yeast
-1 1/2 cups, plus 1-3 tablespoons water at approximately 115 degrees
-1 egg, whisked with 1 teaspoon water until frothy (for egg wash)
-Sesame or poppy seeds for garnish (optional)
1. In a large mixing bowl, mix together flours, sugar, and salt.
2. In another bowl, melt the butter. With a fork or whisk, beat in the egg. Add the dry milk and whisk until mostly smooth. Set aside.
3. In a small bowl, mix together the yeast and the warm water. Let stand for 5 minutes or until bubbly.
4. Pour the butter mixture and the proofed yeast mixture into the flour. Mix with a wooden or metal spoon until a dough forms. You may need to mix with your hands to get it all incorporated. Add the extra 1-3 tablespoons at this time if necessary to make a dough that is soft, supple, and tacky, but not sticky.
5. Sprinkle a little flour on the counter and knead for 6-8 minutes, until dough passes the windowpane test. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to it, rolling it to coat with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Ferment at room temperature for 1 1/2-2 hours, or until dough doubles in size.
6. Remove dough from the bowl and divide into 12 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball. Mist the tops with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let them rest for 20 minutes. .
7. Shape each ball into a hot dog bun. You can do this by flattening the ball with your palm, then bringing two edges in toward the center to form a square. Roll it up tightly, then rock it back and forth gently under your palms to make the bun longer. Don't pinch or taper the ends. Transfer the shaped buns to a sheet pan lined with a silpat mat or parchment paper. Mist the tops with spray oil, loosely cover with plastic wrap or a towel, and let rise for 60-90 minutes, or until doubled in size.
8. Preheat the oven to 400. Brush the tops of the buns with the egg wash and garnish with seeds if desired. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until the tops are golden-brown and the sides are golden. Let cool for at least 15 minutes on a rack before servings.