When it's cold and snowy, or any day when I feel house-bound, I like to bake. This recipe for slider buns is a chameleon because the same dough also can make classic dinner rolls, either clover-leaf or pull-apart. The rolls are light, not too sweet and can be served at any meal. For sliders, fill them with 21/2 -ounce beef or lamb patties and a big pinch of sauteed onions. Serve a basketful with salad at dinner or lunch. I like them split, toasted and spread with jam for breakfast. I hope it snows again soon.
The dough can be mixed in a stand mixer using a dough hook. But part of the satisfaction of working with yeast dough is hands-on kneading.
1 package (2 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature, plus 1 egg, beaten, for glazing
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided, plus extra for kneading
2 teaspoons salt
Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, or coarse salt (optional)
Run a large bowl under warm water to take off the chill and dry. Into the warm bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (I usually take a pinch of the measured sugar and sprinkle it over the yeast to "feed it.")
Using an electric beater (or hand whisk), beat in milk, remaining sugar, 2 eggs, butter, 13/4 cups of flour and salt. Beat for 2 minutes on low speed. This step gives a little extra boost to the dough structure. Clean the dough from the beaters. Now stir in the remaining flour and stir with a wooden spoon until a sticky mass of dough forms.
Using a plastic pastry scraper or spatula, scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead until it is smooth and elastic, dusting the work surface with flour to keep the dough from sticking, about 5 minutes. The dough will be soft and not sticky.
Form the dough into a ball, transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl and cover the dough with a tea towel. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in bulk, 11/2 to 2 hours.
Line a half-sheet pan or baking sheet with parchment paper.
Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a clean work surface. Cut it in half with a sharp knife or a bench scraper. Cut each half into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece against the work surface into a round ball. Place the balls on the prepared pan, spacing them evenly, cover loosely with a kitchen towel, and let them rise until puffy and pillow-soft when gently squeezed, 30 to 40 minutes.
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven, and preheat to 400 degrees. Brush the rolls lightly with the beaten egg. Sprinkle, if you like, with poppy seeds, sesame seeds or coarse salt. Bake until puffed and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes
Makes 16 buns.
-- "Essentials of Baking" Williams-Sonoma(Oxmoor, 2003)