finally starting to get the hang of it...
Today was a good day. Strangely. It started horribly. Nothing was going my way. I thought my chicken had gone rancid on me. I was dropping things constantly. I thought my bread overproofed.
Nope. All went just fine.
Today's bake was something of a hurried thing. I knew that sometime this week I wanted to make burgers. We tend to like ground pork instead of beef for our burgers and thus I decided that there's nothing better with pork than more pork: burgers with bacon, sharp vermont cheddar, and caramelized red onion for tomorrow's dinner. I pulled the meat out of the fridge to thaw and then set out to make the buns.
I know that this is a forum of bread bakers, but have you looked at how many supermarket breads recently have high fructose corn syrup in them? Since my daughter is now getting to the age where she's going to start eating real food (as opposed to her babyfood purees), I'm trying to cut it out of our diet as much as possible. So I look to see if I can find some buns without some because she will undoubtedly want a bite of the bun...and I come up with *nothing*. There wasn't one bread on the shelf that didn't have HFCS in it. So homemade buns it is.
Now comes the tricky part. I'd never made buns before. I've picked up sandwich bread fairly quickly and can get a good loaf of that, and what I really wanted was sandwich bread in a smaller form. A slightly crisp crust with a very moist but still hearty inside. Immediately I go toward Bob's Red Mill graham flour. So I start my dough with 2 cups of whole wheat graham flour and 1 cup of distilled water. Into this I also put 2 (!) tablespoons of vital wheat gluten. Mixed until I got a cohesive dough, and then let it sit on the counter for 2 hours. Yes, 2 hours. I wanted the wheat to fully soak up the water.
2 hours later, I mix a few more things into the dough. 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup buttermilk, 4 tablepoons butter, 4 teaspoons yeast, and 2-3 tablespoons of honey. To this I add enough Harvest King bread flour to make a very wet, sticky dough. I'd say about 2.5 cups or so. I knead this together, put it in the bowl, and walk away for 20 minutes. After that 20 minutes I flatten the dough a bit, sprinkle on 2 teaspoons of salt or thereabouts, and knead it in for about 7 more minutes. Then I walk away for another 20. One final knead for about 5 minutes, and on to the real bulk rise. Takes about an hour. Then I shape the rolls (and one very short but tasty loaf) and put them in the pan to rise. I shaped 6 large rolls since they're going to be burger buns tomorrow, but for the next occasion they'll probably be smaller. Let them proof for 45 minutes and into the oven.
The only issue that I have with them is that they aren't brown on the top by any means. I'm going to brush with egg yolk next time to get more color. The taste, however, is killer, and they'll work well with the burgers.
I'm learning, and I'm loving every second of it. Without this site I'm sure learning would have been possible, but I couldn't pick a better group of people to share the experience with. You're all so helpful and very understanding. I'm glad I have some like-minded people to share both my successes and failures with. :)