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Classic Air Bun Recipe that Mom would Make

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Light and Fluffy Bun Recipe

This post took some thinking.  I want to share a step by step bun recipe and tutorial for making fresh buns for the new baker.  At the same time I don’t want to put anyone off from trying to take them.  Baking your own fresh buns is not time consuming, actual hands on time is about an hour.  But, the rising, takes some time  so you need to bake them on a day your going to be home.

On a personal note, I made a double batch of bread and buns every week for about 20 years.  This is my air bun recipe I used for many years. It was the best food budget stretcher I know of.  I know these days people often avoid carbs, but that isn’t true for teenage boys, or athletes.  Buns are a loved treat that cost pennies to make and dollars to purchase.  If you haven’t made buns before I hope you give it a try.  My hope is that this bun recipe becomes a love addition to your recipe box, as it has been in mine.

Fluffy and light fresh air buns.

This is an air bun recipe, its not a bread recipe.  I will share my recipe for homemade bread very soon.

1 pkg yeast (Check the expired date)

1/2 cup lukewarm water

1 tsp sugar

1/2 cup lard

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp salt

3 1/2 cups warm water

1 tbsp vinegar

9- 10 cups flour

The first step is to clean off a counter really well.  Your going to be working your bun dough does directly on the counter, so you want to make sure the surface is very clean.

Softening the Yeast

Make sure your bowl is warm. If it isn’t warm swirl it with hot water. Add 1/2 cup lukewarm water, mix in tsp sugar.  Sprinkle with the yeast.  Let soak for 10 minutes until the yeast is soft and foamy.

A bowl with softened yeast for making dinner rolls.
Figure 1

Mixing the Air Bun Dough

In a large warm bowl, add lukewarm water,  lard, sugar and the salt. Stir together until the lard melts.

Add to the softened yeast, then add the vinegar. Stir.

Add the flour two cups at a time, stirring after each addition.  Make sure your flour measurement is accurate, I smooth off the top of my measuring cup with a knife.

Once you have added 8 cups of flour, add one more cup of flour to the dough. By now your dough is getting pretty thick.  Its likely too heavy to continue with a spoon.  Its time to start working it with your hands.

Mixing bread dough for making air buns.
Figure 2
Hand mixing flour into yeast dough for air bun recipe.
Figure 3

Wash your hands, sprinkle the flour on top of the dough, put your clean hand under the dough and fold it over into the middle.  Turn your bowl 1/4 turn, and fold the dough over again.

Repeat the process until most of the flour has worked its way into the dough.

Mixed bun dough for a air bun recipe.
Figure 4

Kneading the Bun Dough

Once the flour is incorporated, place 1/2 cup of flour onto a clean counter. Keep another half cup of flour nearby for dusting the dough, or adding to the counter if the counter gets sticky. Place your dough onto the flour, and begin kneading the dough.Pull your dough over from the underside. (my pics have one hand as the other one had the camera but the process is the same)

Starting to knead homemade air buns.
Figure 5

Then push the dough over on itself. Once its folded over, push down and forwards with the palm of your hands.

Kneading bun dough for making dinner rolls.
Figure 6

Turning the dough 1/4 turn, repeat this process for approximately 8 to 10 minutes. Occasionally take some of the set aside flour, sprinkle it on top of the bun dough.  Pick up your dough in one hand and re-spread the flour on the counter before continuing.

Signs to Look for When Kneading Bread

Its kind of hard to explain but the dough will tell you when its been kneaded enough.   I am certain the pictures will illustrate, but here are some old lady tips. As you knead your dough, it will become less sticky. The gluten will develop making your dough less like a heavy lump and more smooth and elastic. Most of the flour will incorporate itself into your dough from the counter.

Eventually when you fold the dough over, it will no longer stick to the ball of dough. This is when I quit kneading.    Most the flour on the counter will be incorporated into the dough and the dough with  smooth.

Rising the Bun Dough

Clean the large dough bowl and your dough covered hands.  Grease the inside of the bowl with butter. Place the dough in the bowl with the smooth surface at the top. Don’t have a break for coffee or anything, but your dough will wait nicely while you wash your bowl with hot water, dry it and grease it very well with butter.

Once your bowl is prepared.  Place your mixed dough smooth top down into the bowl.  Then flip it over to slightly grease the top.  Check out the picture Figure 4. Notice how much smoother the dough is now then when I first began to knead it?

A bowl full of fresh bun recipe.
Figure 7

Cover with a clean towel and place in a warm place free from draft.  You want your room to be warm.  When my home is chilly I turn on the fireplace and put my bun dough on a chair a couple of feet in front of it.

Let it rise for 2 hours.   It will look really light and airy, I test mine with by poking it softly to see if the top comes back. If it doesn’t its time to punch the dough.

Air bun recipe dough being made into fresh homemade dinner rolls.

Then punch it in the middle.  Fold the sides up and over like when you were kneading it.  If you notice the dough is even smoother and larger.   Isn’t yeast wonderful?

Dough that has been punched down for rising into air buns. Part of the tutorial for an air bun recipe.

Form it into a ball like before, flip it smooth size up.

Cover with a towel and let rise for about one hour until it doubles in size.

How to Pan Dinner Rolls

Once you dough has risen the second time, its time to form and pan the air buns.  There are all sorts of ways to form bun dough, but I will talk about the two most basic methods.   Crusty rolls are when you form the buns, and place them onto a parchment lined cookie sheet, a couple of inches apart so they won’t touch when they rise and are baked.  That is how I baked ours.

To make old fashioned dinner rolls, you will need two 9″ by 13″ pans, or 3 cake pans greased well.  This time instead of placing your buns a couple of inches apart, place them only 1 inch apart in the pan.  That way when they rise the sides touch and you get the soft sides.

Both buns are formed the same way, so lets carry on.

My family wants their buns big.  These ones end up about 3 to four inches across.  If you want you buns smaller, just squeeze them off in bits about the size of an large egg.

Again making sure to wash your hands. Scoop out a small bit of dough making sure the smooth side is on the top.

Then pinch it with your hand as you see in the picture.  Tuck the pinched off dough inside the bun and place on the pan.

How to pan air buns.

Once you buns are shaped and laid out on the pan, let them rise for two hours, or until double in bulk.

Fresh air buns ready for the oven.

Bake at 400F for 10-15 minutes.  They will be golden brown.

Fresh homemade air buns.

If you want the tops to be soft, as soon as they come out of the own brush them with melted butter.  If you like a crusty bun, skip the butter.

Homemade bun recipe and tutorial on how to make homemade buns.

Here is another yeast dough recipe you should love.  Its special and very much appreciated every time I these butterhorns.

butter horn recipe, butter horns, maple butter, maple butter recipe

Homemade Butterhorns

Fluffy and light fresh air buns.

Classic Air Bun Recipe

Fresh homemade air buns that are golden out the outside with a light and airy inside.
Print Recipe
Prep Time:1 hr
Cook Time:15 mins
2 hrs 10 mins
Total Time:3 hrs 30 mins

Ingredients

  • 1 pkg yeast
  • ½ cup lukewarm water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ cup lard soft at room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 ½ cups lukewarm water
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 9-10 cups all purpose flour

Instructions

  • Make sure you bowl is warm.  If it isn’t warm swirl it with hot water. 
  • Add 1/2 cup lukewarm water, mix in tsp sugar.  Sprinkle with the yeast.  Let soak for 10 minutes until the yeast is soft and foamy.
    A large ceramic bowl filled with yeast that is all soft and bubbly, ready for making butterhorns.
  • In a large warm bowl, add lukewarm water,  lard, sugar and the salt. Stir together until the lard melts.
  • Add the softened year to the lard mixture, then add the vinegar.
  • Add the flour two cups at a time, stirring after each addition. 
    Mixing bread dough for making air buns.
  • When you get to 8 cups, add one more cup of flour to the dough, but by now your dough is getting thick. Wash your hands, sprinkle the flour on top of the dough, put your clean hand under the dough and fold it over into the middle. 
  • Continue folding the dough over around the outside of the bowl.  
    Kneading bun dough for making dinner rolls.
  • Once all the flour is incorporated, place the last cup of flour onto a clean counter.  Place your dough onto the flour, and knead the dough, kneading and spinning the dough around.  As you knead your dough, it will become less sticky.  Eventually when you fold the dough over it will no longer stick to the dough.  This is when I quit kneading.  Your dough should be a nice round ball.
    A bowl full of fresh bun recipe.
  • Clean the large dough bowl and your dough covered hands.  Grease the inside of the bowl with butter. Place the dough in the bowl with the smooth surface at the top.  Cover with a clean towel and place in a warm place.
  • Let rise until double in size about 2 hours.
    Air bun recipe dough being made into fresh homemade dinner rolls.
  • Punch the bread down and let rise again until double in size about an hour.
    Bun dough that is being punched down while making a bun recipe.
  • Grease and pan the rolls.
    How to shape homemade buns, from homemade bun dough.
  • Bake at 400F 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown.
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Canadian
Keyword: Air Buns

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6 Comments

  1. the written recipe does not say how long to let the dough rise nor what temperature to bake at.

    1. Thank you. I check out the post and that information was missing on the recipe card. I have added it, thank you for letting me know.

  2. Thanks for this tutorial. My Mom used to make air buns and now it is my turn. Her recipe calls for oil instead of lard, otherwise they are identical. So now my children are wanting to make them so this is perfect!

    1. Hi Karen. I am glad to hear from you. Your family will love this recipe, and swap out the lard for the oil in equal amounts. I hope your family loves them as much as mine does.

  3. Bonnie stewart says:

    These buns look delicious.! Great detail in the tutorial as well. Love it!

    1. Great stuff! I am glad to know the tutorial was thorough. When baking especially its often something I am so use to doing that it was hard to decide what is helpful to share.
      Leanna Forsythe recently posted…How to Make a Messy BowMy Profile

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