I read article after article, recipes, tips, you name it. But what really helped were the step-by-step picture tutorials that people would put up showing what yeast should looked like when it was proofed, how "doubled in size" should look, everything.
Darla over at Bakingdom put up this tutorial and it helped SO much. She even used a scale weight instead of a size reference. Because I'm terrible with size references - when someone says "golf ball size" I can barely figure it out.
For some strange reason. I mean - I know how big a golf ball is.
Anyway - on to the buns. They don't require proofing, but they do need a lot of time for rising.
Add flour to a large bowl.
Then add the salt.
And the sugar.
And the yeast.
And mix it all up.
Then - in a measuring cup, fill to 3/4 cup with hot water. Add cubed butter and stir until melted. Make sure the butter is room temperature - it'll melt much more easily.
Beat an egg until it's frothy and then add it to the butter-water. Then add more water (lukewarm).
Add the water-egg-butter-mixture to the flour mixture and stir until a dough starts to form.
The turn out the dough and knead until it's soft and elastic.
Then put the dough into a lightly greased large bowl. I always just use the one I was doing the mixing in so that I'm not using a bazillion dishes.
Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size. Now.. For a novice bread-maker, it's important to know this part. As you know, yeast needs to be warm to activate and grow - making the dough rise.
Yeast is actually kind of gross if you think about it.
There are a number of ways to help the dough rise.
You can put it on top of a dryer - dryer running of course (that doesn't work in my house because the laundry room can get quite cold).
You can do the preheated oven method (which I don't really understand because the temperature won't stay consistent and the oven cools off, thereby hindering the rising process. Unless I read the process wrong?).
Or - the way I do it. Make sure the thermostat in the house is set to no less than 21 degrees and put the dough in a sunny spot. Not in a window. I put mine on the kitchen table - the kitchen faces south, so the sun is on the table for a huge majority of the day.
And then let rise. I usually go for 2 hours.
Then it comes to the "formation of the buns" part of the day.
Divide the dough into 2 ounce portions. I like to cut off a portion at a time. I also like to use my kitchen scale to weigh the portions.
PS - kitchen scale? Worth every red cent.. Which technically don't exist in Canada anymore. So... worth every nickel? Whatever. I will always own a kitchen scale.
Lay the rounds/buns/boules or whatever on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. I like to place them so they're just touching a little bit.
And yes. I get 23 out of this batch. Every. Single. Time. I have no idea why.
Let them rise until doubled in size. I go for 2 hours.
And as for finishing. There are a few different options.
First, is a milk wash.
Second, is an egg wash (beat and egg with a little milk or water).
Third, is melted butter. I like that one. Because they don't have enough butter to begin with.
These buns come out soft, kind of sweet, full of flavor and completely perfect.
I totally love these buns. They are perfect with lasagna, stew, soup, roasts (with gravy!), and everything in between.
I actually shouldn't have been surprised - Darla is amazing and her recipes are always a winner!
I totally believe that anyone who isn't sure about making buns that they could do so with this recipe!