|The final version.|
I use this sort of formula, more or less, when I make fluffy dinner rolls. It's foolproof. Usually.
The second time around, I skipped the refrigerator resting completely and just made the buns the same day.
They rose better, but something was still off. They weren't pillowy. If I wanted Kaiser rolls, these would have been perfect. Ideal, even. But I wanted pillowy burger buns, and this recipe always worked before. Always.
Even if I didn't measure, and just threw it all together and went by feel to adjust everything, this group of ingredients never failed me before.
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.
Uh oh. The potatoes! Usually the instant mashers I have in the freezer are pretty basic. Butter, salt, some dairy. Nothing extreme.
But the ones in the freezer that I'd just used were holiday potatoes. We're talking about heavy cream and vats of butter and who knows what else I added. Probably some cheese, too. These were super-rich artery-clogging potatoes.
So I made the same recipe again, but used the instant mashed potatoes instead of the frozen ones. Since I was adding a dry ingredient I added a bit more water and upped the amount of olive oil to make up for the fat in the potatoes. I didn't need more buns, but I was on a mission to see what I'd done wrong. It was either the new flour or the mashed potatoes. And the more I thought about it, the more I suspected the spuds. Or, more accurately, I suspected the myriad additions to the spuds that normally wouldn't have come along for the ride.
Soft and Fluffy Burger Buns
1 1/4 cups water
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1 tablespoon honey crystals (sugar is fine)
1/4 cup instant mashed potatoes
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.
Add the rest of the ingredients, and knead with the dough hook until the dough is silky and elastic.
Form the dough into a ball, put it back into the bowl (or a clean bowl, if you prefer) drizzle with olive oil to coat, and let it rest until doubled in size, about 45 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.
Cover the pan and let the buns rise for about 25 minutes. You should be able to poke one in the side and the indent will remain rather than bouncing back immediately.
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:
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