Friday, January 25, 2013

Quest 1.6: Bread, Glorious Bread!

Welcome back, Apprentices! Today, we're baking bread! I have a special relationship with bread; it's a little disturbing and sometimes sado-masochistic. My safe word is "oh-shit-I-can't-fit-into-my-pants-anymore." And although I feel the sting of the un-zippable zipper, I keep going back for more and the cycle repeats itself.

"Step one, give a f*ck about baking." - Hannah Hart My Drunk Kitchen. 

Bread is delicious, versatile and travels well on those long treks across Middle-Earth or Azeroth.  Many people get intimidated at the idea of baking their own bread. But baking homemade bread is not very difficult; it's just time consuming. So, Apprentices, I'm starting you out with the easiest bread recipe I could manage; sesame seed hamburger buns! The beauty of bread is that all breads are made up of, more or less, the same ingredients: flour, yeast (or in some cases baking powder), sugar, water, salt and sometimes, eggs. You can simply interchange these ingredients (i.e. whole wheat or rice flour for unbleached) to change up the bread. A little fair warning before we get started; once you start making your own bread, you will find it extremely difficult to go back to store-bought. Homemade bread is denser, more filling and  far more delicious than anything you could get in a plastic bag from the grocery store! So, roll up your sleeves and get ready to knead because we're baking bread!

Sesame Seed Buns
Yield: 8 Regular-sized hamburger buns


3 1/2 Cups All-purpose Flour
1/4 Cup Sugar
2 Packets Active Dry Yeast
2 Tbs melted butter
1 cup warm water (100°F-140°F)
2 Large Eggs
1 1/4 Tsp Salt
Sesame Seeds (to garnish)


2 large mixing bowls
2 baking sheets
Sturdy spatula
Small whisk or spoon
Parchment Paper or Non-Stick Spray
Pastry Brush

*TIP - Pre-measure your ingredients and separate them into bowls (just like you see on all those cooking shows). You'll be surprised how easy it is to lose track of how many scoops of flour you've added to a mix and it's easier to fix those problems when your ingredients are still separate than when you have everything in one bowl. 

Activate your yeast!  Yeast is a living organism, a fungus, and when active, it releases carbon dioxide that causes bread to rise. Activating your yeast will cause it to foam and grow right before your eyes and you'll know, without a doubt, that your bread will rise. 

Pour the warm water into your large mixing bowl and dissolve in 1 tsp of sugar (taken from the 1/4 cup of sugar you have already measured out for the dough). Just give it a gentle stir with a whisk or a spoon until there are no more sugar granules in the bottom of the bowl. Now, sprinkle the yeast on the surface of the water as evenly as possible and step away to let the yeast do its thing. The yeast should take a 5-10 minutes to fully activate. If your yeast hasn't activated within 10 minutes, it's dead; throw it out and try again. Be sure not to get your water too hot because you could kill your yeast. As a point of reference, the water should not be as hot as a cup of coffee. Usually 30 seconds in the microwave will do the trick. You should be able to hold your finger in the water without any discomfort. But when in doubt, bust out your handy-dandy thermometer!


Add flour, sugar, 1 egg, melted butter & salt! This is part of what makes these the easiest buns just dump it all folding or careful measuring. Just go for it!

Using a sturdy spatula, mix the ingredients together thoroughly. Do not use a whisk! If you use a whisk, it will turn into an instrument of terror as you will only end up with the dough stuck in the middle of the whisk and spend the next ten minutes digging it all out. Mix the dough with the spatula until it looks like this:

*TIP - A set of good spatulas are vital to any arsenal. Look for stainless steel handles and silicone, heat resistant heads. They will make your life so much easier!

Get your hands dirty! At this point, you've gotten about as far as you're going to get with that spatula. The best tool in your kitchen is a nice, clean pair of hands! Give your hands a scrub (if you haven't already and if not, GROSS!!) and work that dough with your hands. You can knead the dough right there in the bowl if it's big enough. If not, lay down some parchment paper, sprinkle it with flour and transfer the dough to the paper. Work the dough until it is smooth and elastic and transfer to the other clean, large bowl.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rise! Set the bowl in a warm, dry place and walk away. Go play a video game or watch a movie and check on your dough about an hour later. There is no set time for dough to rise. Many recipes will say it takes "one hour" but there are a lot of factors that will effect how fast your dough rises. So don't stress about the time. Your dough is ready when it has doubled in size.

*TIP Make sure you choose an area for your dough to rise that your cat hasn't chosen to plant her ass and stalk hummingbirds like the fierce predator she is.

Deflate your dough! Using your hands, gently deflate your risen dough. Divide your dough into 8 equal pieces and roll into balls. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper or spray them with non-stick spray. Space your balls of dough about 2 inches apart. Use your hands and gently flatten the balls to make more of a bun shape. For my dough, I divided it differently, making 3 regular buns, 3 slider buns and 2 sub sandwich buns (I also made an extra batch because I'm prepping for my upcoming Walking Dead mid-season premiere special! So tune in!). As I said earlier, this dough is so versatile and you'll be able to get a ton of uses out of this recipe!

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise (again) until they are visibly puffy. The second rise usually doesn't take as long so check on it in about 30 minutes.

Pre-Heat Oven to 375ยบ

Using a whisk or fork, beat the other egg well. Make sure the yolk and white are completely integrated. With a pastry brush, very gently brush the surface of your buns with the egg-wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. The egg-wash is what gives the buns that beautiful, golden-brown sheen and makes the sesame seeds adhere to the top. If you prefer seedless buns, brush them with melted butter instead.

Place in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 15-18 minutes.

Your house will start to smell like Heaven in a few minutes and you'll wonder why the heck you never baked your own bread before. When your buns are golden brown, remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack or slice and serve immediately.

The buns will store very easily. You can make a couple of batches, seal them in an air-tight freezer bag and store in the freezer. Be sure to date the bag for freshness. When serving them out of the freezer, slowly bring them down to room temperature, wrap in foil and warm in the oven or lightly butter and put them on the grill.

You did it!! You made bread! How awesome are YOU?!? You also just earned yourself a big, fat load of points!


+20 Baking

Make sure to tune in next week when we cook more stuff! Join the community! Like us on Facebook and follow on Twitter for all the latest 8-Bit Cooking news!

No comments:

Post a Comment