And the color of the crust was wrong. The buns were baked, but the crust was still too pale. And the texture was wrong. Don't get me wrong, they tasted fine. But they didn't come out like they were supposed to, and that was annoying and frustrating and maddening. Because I've baked this recipe a million times. I could do it in my sleep.
I went over everything...nothing had changed...or...wait! I bought a new brand of bread flour at the bulk store. Maybe it was the flour, But no, that couldn't be it. I've baked bread with every imaginable brand of bread flour, and I've subbed in all purpose flour and I've used white whole wheat and regular whole wheat and I still never had this sort of major difference from what I was expecting.
I pondered some more. The mashed potatoes should have added extra fluffiness, it even works flawlessly with instant mashed potatoes.
Burger Buns, v3.0
1 tablespoon honey crystals (sugar is fine)
3 cups bread flour (13 1/2 oz.)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon olive oil
Put the water, yeast, honey crystals, and mashed potatoes into the bowl of your stand mixer, stir to combine, and let it sit until it gets foamy, about 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and sprinkle some cornmeal on a baking sheet.
Flour your work surface, and knead the dough briefly. Divide it onto 12 roughly equal pieces. I know some people are perfectionists and weight the dough to portion it, but I don't mind that some are smaller buns. Some people have smaller appetites. Or larger.
Form each piece into a ball, then flatten each ball into a disk shape and place them on the cookie sheet. Twelve buns fit nicely in a 3x4 pattern. As they expand, some of them will touch each other, but that's not a big deal. Or at least it's not a big deal to me. Commercial buns look like that. But if it bothers you, use two baking sheets.
Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes, until the buns are a golden brown. For soft buns, move cover (or wrap) the buns in a clean kitchen towel while they cool. If you like crunchier buns, cool them uncovered on a rack. They'll still soften a bit, and will soften for sure if you store them in a plastic bag. If there are any left.
Speaking of having buns left, I've got a lot.
Good thing that buns freeze well. Here's the whole lineup of verions one, two and three: