Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Smoked Rye Buns

Lately I've seen (in a glancing sort of way) a few comments about baking bread in a smoker. The idea intrigued me. I've baked bread in my gas grill, so why not bake it in my electric smoker?

One big difference is temperature. My smoker maxes out at 275 degrees, which is considerably lower than my usual bread-baking temperature. I've made bread sticks at low baking temps when I wanted them to dry out without getting very brown, and I've compromised on temperature when I've had something else in the oven that needed a lower temperature.

But the low temperature bake plus the addition of smoke sounded like a worthy experiment.

I decided that rye would work well with smoke, and I added buttermilk for a little bit of tang.

But what shape? I figured that a traditional loaf would have the smoke flavor on the crust, but I didn't think it would work its way very far into the bread. On the other hand, buns would have the smoke flavor in every bite. So I went with buns.

These would be great for any type of barbecue sandwich, with the added smokiness enhancing the sandwich in a way that a plain bun just couldn't do. Also great for a non-smoked sandwich where smoke would be an asset. Maybe not for the peanut butter and banana sandwich, unless you're likely to add bacon to that combination.

Smoked Rye Buns

1 cup water
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup rye flour
2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup potato flakes
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon caraway seeds

Combine everything (except the olive oil and caraway seeds) in the bowl of your stand mixer, stir to combine, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rest for 20 minutes.

When the rest time is up, knead the dough with the stand mixer fitted with the dough hook until it is smooth and elastic. Add the olive oil and caraway seeds and continue kneading until they are fully incorporated.

Cover the dough and let it rest until it has doubled in size, about an hour.

When the dough has doubled, flour your work surface and turn out the dough. Knead it briefly, then divide it into 12 equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball and place them on a baking sheet that will fit into your smoker (a quarter-sheet pan fits in mine.)

If you want individual rolls, you can use two pans - I went for pull-apart rolls and placed all 12 on my half-sheet pan.

Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and set aside until nearly doubled in size - about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare your smoker and soak your wood chips (I used maple, but use what you like) according to the manufacturer's directions. Set the temperature for 275 degrees.

When the dough has just about doubled, uncover it and bake it in your smoker (don't forget those wood chips!) until the dough is lightly golden and cooked through, about 45 minutes.

Remove the buns from the smoker, and remove them from the pan to cool on a rack.