Soft Dinner Buns

Buns 9

Admit it, you wish your house smelled this good right now!

 

April 1 is tomorrow, and that’s our Auntie Elsie’s birthday, or it would have been if she was still with us.  We miss her every day, and while I was busy thinking of her I felt that need to make some soft white dinner buns, the kind she used to bring to every family dinner as a treat.  This dough is soft and tasty, and the texture is perfect.  Pretty sure she would have been proud of this effort!

Buns 7

Step 1:

  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 6 tsp. honey
  • 6 tsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. salt

Combine the above ingredients in a large bowl and cool.

Step 2:

  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water (not too warm, you’ll kill the yeast)
  • 3 tsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. fast rising yeast

Dissolve the water and sugar in a small bowl.  Sprinkle the yeast on top and let sit.

Step 3:

  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 6-7 cups unbleached white flour
Buns 1

Just waiting for this yeast to bloom a little more and I’ll be ready to start combining everything.

  • Mix the eggs into the first (Step 1) mixture once it has cooled to room temperature.
  • Add 1 cup of flour to this mixture and stir well.
  • Add the yeast mixture (Step 2) to the bowl and stir to incorporate.
  • Gradually add the remaining flour, cup by cup, until the dough gets too difficult to stir in the bowl.  At this point, on a floured surface (your counter), empty the dough and knead by hand until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.  You will need to keep the surface floured to prevent it from sticking.
  • Place the dough into a greased bowl, cover with a clean tea towel, and place in a draft-free warm area to rise.
buns 2

This dough is so soft, I can taste it already….

Buns 3

It’s true.  I’m that dork that has a re-usable cover for raising yeast dough.

  • Let the dough rise until doubled (about 40 minutes) and punch it down.  Repeat this process once.
Buns 4

Yes, the yeast and time has done it’s job.

Buns 5

Time to release the dough and form buns.

  • Preheat your oven to 350 F and grease two  9x 13 baking trays (the ones with the small sides).  You can use any shape of pan you want in actual fact.  Cut off pieces of dough that are approximately 1/2 cup in size (doesn’t have to be exact!) and form into buns.  I keep my fingers slightly floured and tuck the dough under as I stretch the dough to make it smooth on top, but you can use whatever technique you like!
  • Place the buns about a 1/2 inch apart on the greased pan, cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Buns 6

  • Bake for 15-20 minutes or until nicely browned.
Buns 8

Use this recipe for whatever you like!  Today I made mini pizza shells for the grandkids to make lunches with.  I call it the organic look when they aren’t all uniform in size and shape….

 

Buns 11

A tray of these is welcome at any dinner.

I thought I had Auntie Elsie’s original recipe, but couldn’t find it.  This recipe is from “Fraiche Nutrition” and if you haven’t been to her website, well – get on over there.  It is packed with delicious and nutritious recipes and tips.

Deep Dish Pizza – Chicago style

Chicago style deep dish pizza is an entirely different creation!  We traditionally make thin crust pizzas, with a light topping.  This situation calls for heavier amounts of all toppings, and naturally a heavier layer of dough.

Chicago 2

Ready for the oven, this dish features soft chewy dough, sweet & savoury toppings, and the tang of feta with olives – a little something for everyone.

The secret to having a dough that doesn’t get all soggy is in the layering.  DON’T PUT YOUR SAUCE RIGHT ON THE DOUGH!!!  That’s it, basically.

preheat oven to 400 and generously grease your cooking vessel with olive oil

PIZZA

Prep everything ahead of assembling your pizza.  For this pizza I made 1 10″ deep dish creation consisting of:

  • 2 spicy Italian sausages, removed from casing and broke apart – cook until crispy on the edges.
  • 2 mild Italian sausages, (see above)
  • 1/2 cup sliced yellow pepper, flash fried until it has golden brown bits
  • 1/2 cup sliced red onion, sautéed until carmelized
  • 1/2 cup thickly sliced Crimini mushrooms, sautéed until browned and have lost some juice
  • handful of kalamata olives, (hopefully pitted)
  • handful of feta cheese, crumbled
  • mozzarella cheese, freshly grated

SAUCE

For one 10 “pizza:

  • 1/2 can (about 1 cup) fire roasted canned tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil (if, like me, you live in an area where this is not readily available, I use the tubes – they most closely replicate that fresh flavour)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • salt and pepper to taste

I just stir this together as I like the chunks of tomato.

This whole thing is a lot easier if you buy pizza dough pre made, but when I get home from sitting at a desk all day and listening to people, I love the idea of working with dough.  Kind of like kitchen yoga, it washes away that day ….. (yes, I’ve been told that’s a bit odd but it beats drinking every night).  Or does it?

ASSEMBLY

Lay your pizza dough in the cooking dish, and gently stretch it to go right to the edges, and up the sides.  Let it rest if it doesn’t go easily, it will once it has had a moment to chill out.  This may take a few rest periods, but get a generous amount of dough to behave and fill your dish as well as up the sides.

Cover the bottom of the dough with mozzarella.  Sprinkle over the cooked sausage meat, then the mushrooms and onions, and finally the peppers.  Spoon the sauce over this, and top with feta and kalamata olives.

Chicago 1

Get all your toppings ready while the dough is rising in a warm, draft free spot.

Bake at 400 until you see the crust nicely browned and bit of sauce bubbling around the toppings.  This will take anywhere from 20-30 minutes.

Chicago 4

Make sure you allow it to sit, once out of the oven, for about 10-15 minutes so it retains its shape when you slice those pizza pies.

Chicago 3

The perfect balance of tender dough and toppings.

PIZZA CRUST (if you are so inclined)

(makes 3 10″ deep dish pizzas)
Ingredients:

  • 750 g white flour (use Tipo ’00 flour if you can or a strong bread flour)
  • 200 g semolina flour
  • 2 ½ cups lukewarm water
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. (or 1 x 8 oz packages) yeast
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil

Directions:

  1. Place your flour(s) and sea salt in a large bowl and whisk together. Create a well in the center.
  2. In a large measuring cup, mix together your lukewarm water and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Sprinkle in the yeast and let it sit for approximately 5 minutes, until the yeast starts to ferment.
  3. Pour the water/sugar/yeast mixture into the well along with the olive oil and stir together with a fork or large spoon until it is well mixed. Once it becomes too difficult to mix together with your fork or spoon, sprinkle extra flour on the dough and your hands and mix with your hands until the dough comes together in a ball.
  4. Place the dough on a well-floured flat surface and knead, pushing the dough using the palms of your hands, for approximately 10 minutes, until the dough looks smooth and stretchy. You may need to add extra flour as you go, being careful not to add too much to keep the dough from being too stiff.
  5. Place the ball of dough in a large bowl coated with olive oil, dust the top of the dough with flour, and cover with a clean dish towel and place in a warm draft-free area for about an hour, until the dough has doubled in size. Punch the dough down.  At this point you can either refrigerate the dough overnight (or up to 2 days, covered with plastic wrap and occasionally punched down) or divide the dough into 3-4 portions (depending on how big you want your pizzas).  I highly recommend making your dough in advance and letting it sit in the fridge as the longer ‘proof’ really makes a difference.   Ensure that your pizza dough comes to room temperature before cooking (bring it out of the refrigerator 1-2 hours before you are ready to cook).
  6. You can also use this recipe for up to 8 small individual pizzas.