I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t generally bake a lot of bread or bread-type products. I think it has to do with the time needed for dough to rise, then rise again. Makes it one of those things I can usually only get away with on a weekend.
Well, all this COVID-19 work-from-home isolation stuff makes more things possible. At least until my yeast runs out. Which will be very soon – and it’s very scarce on store shelves right now.
Anyway, we were making stew tonight, so I decided some soft, fluffy milk buns would be perfect with it. And I was RIGHT!
I found this recipe on YouTube, and it looked really good.
Spoiler alert: they’re really good. Especially if you split them open and hit them with butter as soon as they’re cool enough to get your fingers on.
A couple of mine fell victim to the butter knife before the stew was made. It couldn’t be helped … and we honour their sacrifice.
Making the dough was interesting. It comes together VERY easily and is extremely satisfying to knead. Until you add in the butter. Then it gets weird.
Your soft, pliable, satisfying dough turns into weird sticky strings of dough and makes you wonder if you’ve just destroyed everything you had just accomplished.
But keep going.
After a few minutes of kneading, it all comes back together just fine. It DID have me worried for a couple of minutes though, questioning all of my life’s choices that lead me there.
I did the kitchen scale thing with this recipe, since baking is a science, not an art. Measured everything in grams vs. cups/tablespoons. Except the sugar. That went in as tablespoons.
I warmed the milk in the microwave and used an instant read thermometer to get it to around 100 degrees before adding the yeast. I figured 100 was a good number, since that’s where I proofed my yeast when I made Hawaiian bread.
Could I have gone warmer? Maybe. Did I? No.
I also used the kitchen scale to measure my dough balls when I divided up the big ball of dough. They were all within a gram or two of 52 grams each when they hit the parchment.
Pro tip – hit your pan with a little shot of cooking spray to get the parchment to stick to the sides and not curl up and slide around. I used a metal 9×13 pan for baking, and it’s spot on for one batch of this, which made 12 buns.
I can see myself making some of these a little bigger and using them as hamburger buns this summer to! Really tasty, soft, and flaky!
Soft Fluffy Milk Buns
- Mixing bowl
- Kitchen scale
- Instant read thermometer
- Plastic/rubber spatula
- 9×13 pan
- Parchment paper
- Plastic wrap
- Fine mesh strainer
- 350 grams All Purpose Flour (about 2 ⅔ cups)
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1 packet Active Dry Yeast (8g)
- ⅔ tsp salt
- 200 grams milk warmed to 100°F
- 30 grams butter very soft
- 1 tsp corn starch (you'll use much less, but that's what I started with and put the rest back)
- cooking spray to grease bowl/attach parchment
- Measure milk into a cup or bowl. Microwave on high for 5-10 seconds at a time to warm it up. Check with instant read thermometer frequently as to not overheat it. You just want it warm, not hot.
- Cut open the yeast packet and add it to your now warm milk. Stir it a little.
- In your mixing bowl, add the flour, sugar, and the milk/yeast mixture. Make sure you get all of the yeast out of the cup/bowl.
- Using a plastic spatula (a stiff one is good here), mix everything until the dough starts to come together. Then add the salt.
- Knead the dough for about 5 minutes. Start in the bowl until everything is together, with nothing left in the bowl. Then move to a counter. You'll feel it getting soft and smooth. It's not a sticky dough.
- Now it gets messy and weird. Take the lovely dough you've just formed, flatten it a bit, and spread your very soft butter over the top. I microwaved my butter for a few seconds to speed up the process. Just be careful – you want it soft, not melted.
- Now knead the butter into the dough. There's no way to do this that isn't messy. Your hands will get covered in butter. The counter will get covered in butter. The dough will look like you're suddenly working with ribbons of pasta and you'll be certain you've done something horribly wrong.
- Breathe. You didn't do anything wrong. Just continue to knead until the dough magically comes back together into a ball of dough again, and work it until all of the butter is incorporated from your hands and the counter. Trust the process.
- Form the now softer, smoother, and slightly oilier dough into a ball.
- Grease a bowl – I just hit my mixing bowl with a spritz of cooking spray.
- Put your dough ball in the bowl to rise. Give the top of it a quick spritz of cooking spray and cover with plastic wrap.
- Let the dough rise for two hours.
- After rising, remove your dough to a VERY lightly floured surface and separate into 12 equal pieces. I used the kitchen scale here again. Weighed the entire lump of dough, divided by 12, then measured them out. You don't have to be quite that neurotic with yours … I just wanted my baking to be equally sized for once.
- Cut a piece of parchment paper big enough to cover the bottom of a 9×13 pan AND go up the sides. Cut squares out of the corners roughly equal to the height of the sides. This will make it fit nicely.
- Give the sides of the pan a VERY light spritz of cooking spray, then place the parchment in the pan. The surface tension of the oil will hold the paper in place so it doesn't curl or slide around.
- Take your divided up dough balls and roll them into beautiful little balls. A dozen of them should fit the pan perfectly.
- Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let it rise for another 30-45 minutes.
- Pre-heat your oven to 350°F when they're almost finished the second rise.
- Right before putting them in the oven, pull off the plastic wrap and put a spoonful of corn starch in a fine mesh strainer. Hold it up in the air and give it a very gentle tap to allow the lightest dusting to float down on top of your buns.
- Bake for 17-20 minutes. Look for them to turn a lovely light golden brown.
- Let them cool for 5 to 10 minutes – or until you can hold one – and dig in!