Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Whole Wheat Beer Buns

The subtitle for my blog is "a dietitian's journey through a foodie world."  And a journey it is.  I still consider myself a beginner at real, made from scratch baking.  And although I know my way around the kitchen, not everything I touch turns into foodie gold.  With that being said let me introduce you to my first crack at homemade hot dog buns!
Okay, so these didn't turn out quite as I had hoped.  They were more like mini loaves of whole wheat flat bread.  But, they were so delicious I just had to share them with you anyway.  These smelled so good while they were baking that my husband and I both just had to have a bun right out of the oven.  When was the last time you couldn't help yourself from eating a store bought hot dog bun?  Yeah, that's what I thought!  

And even though these weren't as thick as store bought buns, they were still usable as buns.  I just cut them in half.  They were a little thin, but they did the trick!
I have a few theories as to why these didn't turn out quite right and some things I would do different next time.  The directions say to scale the buns out to 3 ounce portions.  A serving size of bread is 1 ounce and a standard bun is 2 servings.  I weighed my buns after baking them, and they were about 2.5 ounces.  So I think next time I will start out with 2.5 ounce buns so they end up being about 2 ounces.  Maybe if they weighed less they wouldn't have spread out as much??  

I will also put the formed buns closer together on the baking sheet.  I left a good bit of space between them and my husband pointed out that when you buy buns from the store they have marks that indicate they have been cut apart from each other.  Maybe if mine had been closer together they wouldn't have been able to spread out and would have been forced to rise up??

Other than a little confusion about how to shape the buns, these were actually really easy to make.  I found the dough to be really easy to work with.

The first step in making your own homemade buns is to prepare the yeast.  To do this, heat your water and beer to 110 degrees.  I highly recommend using a thermometer so you know for sure your temperature is correct.  Then dissolve the yeast and some sugar in the mixture.
Let it set for 10 minutes.  It should be nice and foamy.  If it's not, start over now rather than later!
In a stand mixer, combine honey, flour, salt, 1 egg, and the yeast mixture. 
Mix with a dough hook for 3 minutes.  Then check the hydration.  If the dough seems too wet, add a little bit of flour.  I added 1 tablespoon.
Then set the mixer to medium and knead the dough for 8 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a floured surface and shape it into a ball.  Then put it into an oiled bowl.  I use a measuring cup so I know how much dough I have and can tell when it has doubled.  In this case, maybe I should have used a bowl because after rising, the dough had gone over the edge of my cup.  I spray the measuring cup (or bowl!) with cooking spray, then spray the top of the dough with cooking spray.
Let the dough rise in a warm spot for 1 1/2 hours.  I put mine into a warmed oven.  Because my dough was about to make a huge mess, I didn't manage to get a picture.  Oops!  Place the risen dough on a floured surface and punch it down.  I then put mine back in my measuring cup and proceeded to scale it out.
I did 3 ounces like the recipe said to, but as I stated earlier, I think next time I will do 2.5 ounces.
Now it's time to shape your buns.  And no, I'm not talking about a Jane Fonda workout DVD!  I followed the directions the way I understood them.  I formed the dough into 6-inch rectangles.
Then I folded the top half over.  I started at the center and sealed the edge I had formed.  When I got to the edges, I folded the ends in and sealed them.
After the fact I went back to the website where I found the recipe to look at the pictures to see if I had done something wrong.  The original pictures look like the buns were maybe rolled instead of folded.  But all in all, they looked pretty similar.  Anyway, place the buns seam-side down on a baking sheet...
...and let then rise again for an hour.  Before you put your buns in the oven, brush them with an egg wash to get a nice golden color.
Then bake them for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.  Savor that wonderful aroma.  If I make it to heaven, I hope it smells like fresh baked bread!

Someone else please make these.  Because they taste amazing and I want to know how it works for you!  Happy baking!

Whole Wheat Beer Buns
1 1/4 cup water
1 1/4 cup beer
1/4 cup skim milk
1 Tbsp active dry yeast
2 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp honey
3 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
2 eggs
Heat water and beer to 110 degrees.  In a medium bowl or large measuring cup, combine the heated water and beer with the milk.  Add the yeast and sugar and allow to stand for 10 minutes, or until very frothy.
In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the honey, flour, salt, 1 egg, and the yeast mixture.  With a dough hook, mix for 3 minutes then test the dough's hydration.  The dough should be very sticky, and it should just be clumping around the dough hook.  If the dough feels very wet, or looks soupy, add additional flour a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the correct hydration.
Turn the mixer to medium speed and knead for 8 minutes.  Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and form the dough into a smooth ball.
Transfer the dough to a large bowl that has been lightly oiled.  Turn the dough to coat with oil and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow to rise for 1 1/2 hours, or until just over double in bulk.
Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a floured work surface and press the dough flat with your hand.  Roll back into a ball, cover with plastic and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
Once rested scale the dough out into 3 oz pieces.  For smaller buns, scale dough out to 2 1/4 oz pieces.  Flatten each dough piece into a 6-inch rectangle, then roll the top of the dough over and pinch the dough to form a seam.  Continue to do this, tucking in the edges once you get close to the end.  Then pinch the seam closed.  Place the formed buns seam side down on a baking sheet covered with greased parchment.  Spray the buns with non-stick cooking spray and cover with plastic.  Allow to rise for one hour.
Heat the oven to 375.  Once the rolls have risen, beat the remaining egg with 2 teaspoons of water.  Brush the egg wash over the buns and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the buns are deeply golden and sound hollow when thumped on the side.
Cool on the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe adapted from Evil Shenanigans

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