Yeast, glorious yeast … whether you buy it in a jar or paper packet or catch and raise it yourself.
Both the two recipes below use it to make delicious bases for lots of future meals.
Like English Muffins for Eggs Benedict – The classic breakfast with an accompaniment of fried potatoes, cause there aren’t enough calories from the fried ham and a generous pour of Hollandaise sauce.
Simple English Muffins – makes 8 muffins
1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup whole or 2% milk
2 tbsp butter
3 cups flour, divided (**you may not use it all)
1 tsp salt (increase from 3/4 tsp next time)
1/4 cup cornmeal
vegetable oil/non-stick spray
In a small bowl, combine the sugar and 1/2 cup of warm water. Stir to dissolve the sugar and sprinkle the yeast on top. Let sit about 5 minutes or until the yeast is foamy.
While the yeast/sugar mixture is rising, combine 1 1/2 cups of the flour and salt in a large bowl. Stir well to evenly distribute the salt.
In a second small microwave safe bowl or your Pyrex measuring cup, combine the milk and butter. Microwave the milk/butter for 30 seconds, stir and microwave again for 30 seconds. Stir the butter until it melts into the warm milk.
Pour the yeast mixture and the milk mixture into the flour. Stir until it has combined into a smooth batter. Adding 1/4 cup at a time, stir in more flour until the dough forms a soft, slightly sticky ball that pulls away from the bowl. (Try not to add more than the 3 cups total … about 3/4 cups more flour, after that first 1/4 cup, should make a nice soft dough.)
Sprinkle a little bit of flour onto a clean counter top or work surface and coat your hands in flour. Dump the soft ball of dough out of the bowl and knead it for about 5 minutes. Add as little flour as possible to the counter top while kneading. Adding too much flour will yield tough muffins.
Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a bowl that has been coated in vegetable oil or non-stick spray. Lightly coat the top of the ball of dough with oil or spray and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until double in size (about 45 min – 1 hr).
Punch the dough down, shape it into another ball, cover the bowl/dough and let rise a second time (45 min – 1 hr or until double). ***I OMITTED THIS SECOND RISE
Turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured surface, cut into 8 equal pieces, form into balls, place on a linen sheet sprinkled with cornmeal, pat down lightly to about 3/4 inch thick.
Sprinkle the top with more cornmeal and let rise, covered with a towel or oiled plastic wrap for another 45 min.
Heat a large skillet or cast iron frying pan over medium-low (2-3) heat. Rub lightly with a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil or spray with non-stick spray.
Carefully transfer the fluffy, risen muffins to the hot skillet with a spatula. (I just did it by hand.)
Cook the muffins, in batches, in the skillet until they are golden brown and crispy on each side. Make sure to keep the heat low so that the outside browns slowly, allowing time for the inside to “bake.”
The original recipe cooked the muffins for about 7 minutes on each side but this will vary from stove top to stove top.
ALTERNATIVELY: I cooked them for 2 min on each side in the frying pan, then finished them in a pre-heated 350 deg Fahrenheit oven for 5-7* minutes.
Let the muffins cool on a wire rack before attempting to fork split or slice open with a serrated knife. Toast and serve with butter, jam or fruit preserves.
Fork split and toasted versus sliced and toasted. It’s your choice.
Or a bun for that classic of barbecue season … the hamburger.
Hamburger Math – 1 grilled hamburger bun top and 1 bottom PLUS 2 hamburgers EQUALS Burger Perfection
Or, if you’re in a higher tax bracket, there’s always the steak sandwich.
The original bun recipe included Parmesan cheese and garlic and onion powder but I went for a plain version. Feel free to try the other version and let me know what you think of it. I’ll stick with the plain … for now, at least. Note that this is a quick yeast bread so it uses more yeast than you’ll usually see in proportion to the flour and a lot of sugar to feed it … requiring no kneading and minimal rising/proofing time and giving you a sweeter tasting bun. All of which make it very similar in texture and flavour to commercially purchased burger and hot dog buns. But they taste SO much better. This is NOT a bread roll.
Linda’s Hamburger/Hot Dog Buns – makes 8 large (3.5-4 oz) or 12 medium (2.55 oz) hamburger buns
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup water + 2 tbsp
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup of vegetable oil or melted unsalted butter**
2 tbsp dry active yeast
1 tsp salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
3-3 1/2 cups of flour, divided
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 egg plus 1 tsp water for egg wash
poppy seeds, sesame seeds, etc for topping
** I didn’t have any whole milk so I used 1 cup plus 2 tbsp of 2 % milk. And I went with the melted butter.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Combine the milk and water in a pyrex measuring cup and warm in the microwave to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Stir in the sugar until it has dissolved and then stir in the yeast. (Make sure the yeast is well mixed in or you may find hard lumps of yeast granules in your dough. ) Let sit for 5-10 minutes until the yeast is bubbly.
In a large mixing bowl add 2 cups of flour. Add the salt and mix well. (If making the savoury variation, also add the cheese, garlic and onion powder.)
Add the proofed yeast, oil or melted butter and beaten egg and stir with a large wooden spoon until you’ve got a smooth batter.
Add, the rest of the flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until you can no longer stir the batter and it starts to pull away from the edge, forming a ball. You want a soft but not sticky dough. Depending on the humidity you should have about 1/4 cup of flour left.
Cover the bowl, place in a warm spot, and let rest for about 10 minutes. (I just left the ball of dough on a sprinkling of flour on the kneading surface and covered it with the overturned bowl I’d made the dough in.)
Shape the dough into 8 (or 12 balls), flatten so they’re about 4 inches in diameter and place into a lightly oiled 9 inch x 13 inch baking pan. For 12 buns you’ll need a second baking pan. If you have a half sheet pan, you can spread out 8 buns on it with a parchment paper on the bottom. You won’t need to oil the pan in that case. Cover the pan with a clean towel and let sit for 10-12 minutes.
Sprinkle/mist water over the buns and then sprinkle some sesame or poppy seeds over the buns, if desired, as decoration.
Bake the buns for 12-14 minutes or until the top and bottom are browned and a gentle tap on the bottom sounds dull.
NOTE: For a glossy, brioche style look, instead of misting with water, brush the tops of the buns with the egg wash and sprinkle some sesame or poppy seeds over the buns. The buns in the picture above just had water brushed over them.