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Wednesday, July 11, 2007 02:07 pm

Patriotic bun baking

True-blue Americans make Â’em at home

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Untitled Document Stage left. Enter hyper-aware epicurean American, or HAEA, who’s got the latest culinary lexicon set to memory: “free-range,” “grass-fed,” “heirloom,” “pesticide-free,” “locally grown.”
HAEA strolls through the aisles of Whole Foods (or an upscale foodie equivalent), shopping for the most patriotic of meals, the cookout.
He examines the contents of his shopping basket, making a mental checklist of the meal: Naturally raised ground beef. Organic tomatoes and locally grown romaine lettuce for the fixins. And the cheese — that comes from cows, too, right? The label says it’s made in a farmer’s co-op in Vermont. Cool. HAEA is feeling virtuous, smiling smugly, and ambles over to the bread aisle to peruse the selection of buns to bookend his politically correct burgers and throws the first bag he sees in his cart. Suddenly the PA system, which had been playing ’80s pop tunes, goes silent. “You with the cart full of vittles,” a voice booms. HAEA and several other shoppers look up at the ceiling, bewildered.
“You call yourself a foodie? Then put that bag of generic buns back on the shelf. Wake up and smell the yeast, my friend. It’s time to learn how to make ’em yourself.”
Not only will homemade buns make you feel virtuous, like a true-blue-as-denim American, you will also wonder why you waited this long. Homemade buns have character, texture, and flavor, attributes that never make it into the bag on the shelf.

Culinary questions? Contact Kim O’Donnel at kim.odonnel@creativeloafing.com.

Sesame Burger Buns
From The Bread Bible by Beth Hensperger
1 3/4 cups warm water (105-115 degrees) 1 tablespoon (one envelope) active dry yeast 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon sugar 1/3 cup nonfat dry milk powder 2 1/2 teaspoons salt 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour One large egg, beaten with 2 teaspoons water, for glazing 1/4 cup sesame seeds
In a small bowl, pour in 1/2 cup of the warm water. Sprinkle yeast and 1/2 teaspoon of the sugar on top. Stir to dissolve and cover, until foamy, about 10 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, using a whisk, combine remaining 1 1/4 cups water, dried milk, remaining sugar, salt, and butter. Add yeast mixture, mixing until combined.
Add 2 cups of the flour. Beat hard until creamy, about one minute. Add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a soft, shaggy dough is formed, just clearing the sides of the bowl. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for about four minutes, dusting with flour only 1 tablespoon at a time as needed, until smooth and soft. (Note: A dough scraper is useful because dough tends to stick.)
Place dough in a greased deep bowl. Turn once to coat and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, 60-75 minutes. Gently deflate dough. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Divide dough into 12 equal portions. Shape each into a tight, round ball, and place balls at least 2 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Do not crowd; dough will spread. Flatten each ball with your palm. Cover loosely with a dry towel and let rise until puffy, about 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush each roll with egg glaze and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until slightly brown and firm to the touch. Transfer to a cooling rack. Cool completely before splitting.
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