This is a pretty easy recipe, and the results are very satisfying. And it doesn’t require kneading. Ideally, you start them the day before, but you can also fast track them for finished rolls in as little as 4 hours.
And there is really no need to haul out the electric mixer. You can mix it easily with a teflon spatula.
If uniformity is your thing, you can measure out the dough balls on a scale. Aim for 128g for 8 rolls, or 102g for 10 rolls. The dough will still be fairly wet, so keep your hands and your work area well floured.
4 cups (550 g) all purpose or bread flour
3 teaspoons (15 g) kosher salt
2 teaspoons (8 g) instant yeast
2 tablespoons (28 g) sugar
1⅓ cups (300 g) cold water
⅓ cup (78 g) milk
4 tablespoons (57 g) butter
A couple of tablespoons of olive oil
for the egg wash: 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast. Blend with a whisk or just your fingers.
Using a large measuring cup, combine the COLD water and the egg, beating with a fork.
And then with a smaller cup, combine the milk and the butter, and microwave it until the butter has melted, 30 seconds at a time. Keep a close watch. The milk mixture can boil and bubble over in no time flat.
Now combine the hot milk mixture with the cold egg mixture. The idea is to get a pleasantly warm liquid for the yeast, so now add it all to the flour mixture and stir. I use a rubber spatula. It’s really not hard.
Mix until you don’t see any dry flour. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top, and cover the bowl.
Now you have two options…
- Put it in the fridge overnight, for up to 18 hours, for better flavor and texture. This is the way I recommend if you can afford the time. And when you take the dough out of the refrigerator, you can begin to work it immediately – no need for it to warm up.
- If you need the buns today, then put the bowl in a warm place and let it rise until at least double in size. 2 or 3 hours.
On a floured counter, turn the dough out, and deflate big air bubbles, if any. Form it into a log, cut it in half, then cut each half again and again until you have 8 to 10 equal balls, or cut the pieces and weigh them on a plastic-wrap-covered kitchen scale.
If you had to piece lots of little bits of dough to form the proper weight, cover your hands in fresh flour, and toss the dough back and forth, squeezing slightly as you catch it, until it is a little more cohesive. Then put it on the work surface, and pull the outside into the middle, stretching the surface. Turn the ball over, and…
Roll each ball around on the countertop with a clawed hand. (Don’t get stressed about this part, because the dough will be wet, and you really can’t make it smooth, but it doesn’t matter. The buns will turn out fine, regardless.)
Arrange the balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet, 2 or 3 inches apart. Set aside in a warm place to proof, 45 minutes or so.
After about 30 minutes, preheat your oven to 425°, and beat an egg with a little water, and gently brush the tops of each roll. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, everything seasoning, or keep them plain.
Bake until they are as golden brown as you want. 15 or 20 minutes.
Remove to wire racks and allow to cool completely, if you can resist.
You can also make your buns in this specially made pan, available from King 👑 Arthur Baking Company for about $30. Each pan makes 6 buns, and can also be used to make small pies, or very generous muffin tops.
August 23rd update: I adjusted the recipe to add more salt. 3 tsp up from 2. Also, unless you plan on eating all of the rolls right away, avoid Everything seasoning on top. The salt in it melts and hurts the consistency of the crust on the rolls over time.