Last weekend I caught my first cold of the season. It was nothing serious but I felt just enough bad that it was not a good idea to go out and spread them bugs around. I am not used to doing nothing, so I spent the first half of the weekend just moving from bed to couch and then back to bed again. For the other half, I decided to do some easy baking. Something that does not involve a lot of standing. Baking bread is definitely one of those things. You make one step and then go to bed and have a nap or something… then make another step and in the mean time watch a movie… you get the point. The bread will never rise if you stare at it. Just like these homemade buns.
The bread will never rise if you stare at it
Because of my diet, we baked bread all the time this year. This time, I decided to bake buns. They were supposed to be for next day burgers, but they were so good they didn’t survive the night. I decided to add a little something just to see if I can get away with it. This little something was carrot purée. Yes, you read it alright, I used vegetables in my bread dough and it was amazing. It gives these homemade buns an extra dimension that surprises in a good way.
In the last couple of months, we became almost master bakers in our household. But I have never baked buns before so I decided to do a little experiment and bake buns using three different technologies. Dough was the same, handling was the same, but the last step – baking was different. Ordinary oven programme, steam and cast iron.
This recipe makes 9 buns. I baked in 3 rounds and used a different oven setting every time.
Ok, here is the recipe.
Ingredients for 9 delicious homemade buns:
- 500 g flour (mixed, type 400 and 500. Must contain gluten!)
- water (as much as combines to 350 ml together with carrot purée)
- 10 g salt
- 3 raw medium carrots blended to a nice and even paste
This is best done on an electronic scale. We will be making a little magic here, and it is impossible knowing how much of everything you need.
Measure 500 g flour into a mixing bowl (that is siting on a scale), add carrot purée and just enough water to get the combined weight of everything to 800 g. Mix until it looks like a dough. Then mix for another 5 minutes. Leave this “dough” to rest for 15 minutes, and in the meantime, dissolve some dry yeast in 50 ml water.
After those 15 minutes you took for resting, pour dissolved yeast and 1 g salt into the dough and mix for another 5-10 minutes. Now cover and go to bed for 30-45 minutes.
I told you this isn’t a all-the-time-hands-on recipe.
When you end your nap and come back to check on the dough, wet your hands and “fold” it. What folding means is, you grab a dough edge and gently pull for as far as it goes without tearing the dough, and fold back. Then repeat on other “unpulled” portions of the dough edge until you end up with a kind of denser ball of dough. Cover again, and take another 30-45 minute nap, then repeat the folding and waiting. I am not sure if the second folding makes any difference, but the second nap was nice, so why not.
When the 30-45 minutes have passed, you need to divide the dough into 9 portions. You “sculpt” them into buns in a similar manner as folding. Pull edges and fold them toward the centre until you end up with an upside-down nice ball. Put it down “seam-side” down and let rest for 15 minutes or more. If you plan to wait for more than en hour until baking, put buns into refrigerator.
Time to bake our beautiful homemade buns!
This is an area that could be the simplest one, but if you go the extra mile, it can also be an area of serious debate. Like I mentioned already, I tried 3 different baking technologies and decided to only give you the one that proved the best. I will revisit the other two in a separate article, to describe and show the differences.
Well, it might seem counter intuitive, but if you want to make buns with the most luxurious crust, you will have to bake them in a covered cast iron dish. It is a lot of fuss, and is painstakingly slow if you want to bake more than 3, BUT – sometimes it is just worth it.
Goes like this: preheat oven to 260°C with the covered (but empty) cast iron pot already inside. When the oven and the cast iron dish are hot, take the dish out and place 3 – 4 buns in it. Make sure they are not touching each other or the walls. If they do touch each other, you might just end up with a bread that is in one piece. Not that you can’t eat it or even make burgers with it, it is just not that nice to look at.
I forgot to mention that you have to work fast, so the dish has no time to cool down. When your buns are in the pot, gently spray them with water, cover with cast iron lid, and put into oven.
Now really – baking:
- 8 minutes on 260°C
- additional 8 minutes on 230°C, still covered
- uncover an continue baking until you like the colour of the crust.
The last step is finding a nice and quiet corner of your house where you can hide and try not to eat these delicious homemade buns right away. Because they get better in approximately 15 minutes, or when they are slightly cooler. To your non allergic family members, serve with butter and nothing else.