Granny's Best Buns Recipe
When it came to baking, my granny was the absolute tops. I have seen her create culinary masterpieces in a gas oven, produce cakes and pastries that would have made the angels weep from a cantankerous old wood stove, and make an absolute disaster of the kitchen in the process. It didn't really matter what she made, it was inevitably superb, from her roast beef with Yorkshire Pudding, replete with juicy roast drippings, to the simple but simply amazing bread pudding topped with her signature golden, mile-high meringue.
...and the mess she created in the kitchen was equally legendary. Her passage through a kitchen could be likened to the path of a tiny, implement-wielding hurricane. Given the unfailing high quality of the offerings, it was really no chore to be on KP. Once you became accustomed to the seeming-destruction she left in her wake, you could see that it was nothing that couldn't be set to right with some concentrated effort and elbow-grease, though. She hadn't really used every pot, bowl, and tool in the kitchen, it just appeared as if she had - and we were, after all, quite used to it.
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Sweet Rolls - Quick Method
I never truly understood what was so quick about about this method, The buns take quite some time to rise properly. Then, of course, you must punch them down, etc., etc. Nor are they particularly sweet. That, however, is the section in the cookbook that contains this particular recipe...and, in all fairness this method is faster than the alternative, overnight method.
They are so light and delicate, yet they hold together equally well when stuffed to overflowing with delicious, home-made chicken salad, or piled high with cold cuts, crowned with crisp lettuce and garden-fresh sliced tomatoes.
- 1 tsp Quick yeast
- 2 cups milk, scalded and cooled to just warm
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup melted butter or cooking oil
- 1 egg, well beaten
- 1 tsp salt
- 51/2 - 6 cups sifted flour (or sifted bread flour)
Soften yeast in lukewarm milk
After yeast has worked , add beaten egg, oil or melted butter, sugar, and salt
Stir in sufficient flour to make a slurry. Continue adding flour until dough is soft but easily handled
Turn out onto lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic
Place in lightly greased bowl and cover with a clean cloth. Place bowl in a warm place and allow dough to rise until doubled in bulk.
Punch down and shape into buns. Bake according to the recipe you are using - usually fro plain buns, at about 400 - 425 F, for 20 - 25 minutes, or until light brown.
This basic recipe can be adapted fr fancy dinner rolls called "Shamrock Rolls" because of their shape. It is also the basis of the well-known "Parker House Rolls", distinguished by their fancy folded and slashed shapes as well as the slathers of melted butter with which they are brushed before baking.
You can also flatten the dough into a long thin rectangle and brush it with butter. Then sprinkle it with raisins, brown sugar and cinnamon, and roll up like a jelly roll. Slice into 1 - 1 1/2 inch pieces and place cut-side down in a baking pan that has been buttered and generously sprinkled with more brown sugar and cinnamon. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk. Bake at 300 - 375 F, for 25 minutes.
You may add pecans to the baking pan with the sugar and cinnamon for a crunchy treat.
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...And What's In Your Lunch?
This particular bun recipe was quite a hit at school as well. My then husband was the most popular guy in the staff room come lunch time. I didn't find this out 'til some months later, though.
When I first took up baking, as the stay-at-home mom of a young toddler, I was gratified that my first efforts met with success. I had yet to master the art of pastry - that was to come some years later - but I seemed to have just the right knack for bread and buns.
At first I simply doubled my bread recipe, and made four loaves plus several dozen buns. The idea was that the extra buns would be frozen for later consumption. This worked fairly well at first, but the buns tended to dry out a bit, so I decided to try to find a recipe that would freeze better and for a slightly longer time.
From the first batch, Granny's Best Buns were a big hit. As well, because they rose so much faster than the bread recipe, I could bake a single batch of bread, freeze two loaves for the rest of the week, and have a double batch of the buns baked in less time than it had taken me to bake all of the double batch of bread.
The buns were a welcome replacement in the lunch bag, and I was especially pleased when I was asked to make an extra sandwich. This continued fro several weeks, and then I was asked for two extra sandwiches. Though it was grand that my buns were such a success, I was now forced to make double my double batch to keep up with the added demand.
After another few weeks of this, I laughingly commented, "My goodness, It's so nice that you like the buns. You are certainly eating a big lunch!"
My spouse rather sheepishly replied, "Oh, no. They're not for me. I'm bringing them for the other staff. They really like your baking."
I fear I replied rather tartly that perhaps the other staff might like to contribute to our larder, seeing as we had been feeding them lunch every day for the past couple of months. After that, he took his normal couple of buns for lunch.
My position as unwitting benefactress to the school staff's unofficial "lunch program" may have suffered after that, but my reputation as a top-notch baker was never in question, and any school bake sale or pot luck was always the recipient of at least a dozen or two of the much-loved buns along with the other goodies.
This is also one a most versatile recipes, as it can be turned out as a savory or a sweet with the simple addition of herbs and spices, or a savory or sweet filling. I am particularly fond of using a mixture of ricotta cheese mashed with a drift of nutmeg, a sprinkle of icing sugar, and chopped, preserved citron.
Another yummy combination is tender cooked beef or chicken, sliced fine, with caramelized onions, all tossed in just enough smoky teriyaki sauce to moisten. A spoonful of this gently rolled into the center of a bun and baked 'til golden brown is heavenly hot from the oven or served cold the next day - if you have any left to serve the next day, that is.
© 2009, Text by Elle Fredine, All rights reserved
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