Instead of “Branding Buns” I should have named this post, “I am So Sick of Baking Bread!”
Newt has over 50 people coming to brand in a couple weeks. Since I still work nearly full-time, I have to make the branding meal as much ahead as possible.
I have 3 cheesecakes in the freezer. And now I have 83 buns.
I made 5 batches of the Quick Bread Recipe. For the buns, I prefer to use bread flour that has extra gluten for more strength in my buns (aka Buns of Steel).
This recipe made 16 rolls each, give or take. I also decrease my yeast down
to 2 TBS which I mixed ahead of time with 1/2 cup of warm water and a couple tablespoons of the sugar. Then the yeast reproduced like crazy in the warm, energy packed water and fluffed up. After that, I added a couple cups of bread flour (mine was unbleached), 1.5 cups of hot tap water, and 1/2 cup of oil. I also added the rest of the sugar, and 1 TBS of salt. (It sounds like a lot of salt, but if you skimp the bread tastes flat. I used sea salt, but I’m sure the NaCl in your salt will work just fine.)
I turn my dough out to knead by hand for 10 minutes, to get the right consistency. I also keep the dough a bit on the sticky side, because at branding we will thaw these and grilled them with butter (like the hamburger buns on “Dinners, Drive-ins, and Dives”). Too much flour and overcooking the buns will make them tough, dry, and too crumbly.
The reason this recipe is “quick” is the fact you doubled the amount of yeast. So don’t leave the dough unattended. Batch #3 exploded through the saran wrap I placed over the dough to “rest” (or “take a nap” as ReeRee calls it). I let the dough rise once (lack of time), but if you let it rise twice the yeast/bready flavor will be more intense.
I have a new electric kitchen range and I had to experiment on the temperature and convention. In the end, I toasted the buns for 15 minutes at 335 degrees with the convention fan on. (I hate to admit it, but it cooked better than my old gas stove. I can’t say the same for the cooktop- I miss my gas range.)
After Batch #2 I noticed my buns were too thin to be sliced for a sandwich, unless you like flatbread. So I tried making my dough look like a poached egg (flattened around the outside of a fat yolk).
The yeast will continue to reproduce and belch gases, causing the buns to raise (or proof). Once you bake them, this funny shape disappears.
Be glad you weren’t around to smell the wonderful smell- neither Newt, nor I, nor ReeRee got a single one.
Now I just need to cook 7 roasts, caramelized onions, make 20 gallons of tea, peel and slice 4 pounds of carrots, peel and dice 20 pounds of potatoes, cook the corn, and make cheesecake toppings.
Brandings are like weddings. You enjoy other people’s more when you went through the work yourself.