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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
Then push the dough over on itself. Once its folded over, push down and forwards with the palm of your hands.
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?
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.
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?
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.
Once you buns are shaped and laid out on the pan, let them rise for two hours, or until double in bulk.
Bake at 400F for 10-15 minutes. They will be golden brown.
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.
Here is another yeast dough recipe you should love. Its special and very much appreciated every time I these butterhorns.