Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Kevin: Summer Breads - Buns

"Pig sandwich boy." This is what my co-blogger and supposed friend Beth calls me. Does this sound like a term of endearment? A sweet and touching reference to my fondness for sandwiches and pork? Or does it sound more like opprobrium? A sly snideness hiding behind a mask of bonhomie. I think she's dissing me and isn't really one of my homies, bon or otherwise. Perhaps she has simply mistaken her classics and considers me a Pygmalian, but I think not.

Be that as it may, here at AYIB central (meaning a conference call using my phone service) we've decided to do another selection of summer breads, but not sandwich breads, per se. Instead we're going to offer three different breads suitable for summer picnics, pool parties, watching fireworks, and plain old lazy-Sunday grilling. I got the nod to go first and thought I'd offer a bun recipe. Specifically a recipe I developed last summer for pulled pork barbeque. (Ok, so maybe Beth has a point.)

In this area of the South pulled pork is usually served on soft white hamburger buns. They're a better platform than the white sandwich bread used in some places, but contribute almost nothing to the final sandwich. I'd decided to make barbeque for my father's birthday and decided if I was going to devote 8 - 9 hours smoking a pork butt to perfection then I wanted something better than an ordinary hamburger bun. I wanted a bun that made it's own contribution to the meal and after giving it some thought I decided that if pork is good on the bun, it'd be good in the bun. So I came up with these Bacon Buns. (Alright, so Beth definitely has a point.)

The recipe incorporates some whole-wheat flour for both flavor and texture — but not a lot. The bun should be light and airy. Along those same lines, slow rising and minimal yeast produce deeper and richer flavors and I have bias toward such flavor. But these characteristics also produce a tougher bread because the gluten is more developed. So in keeping with my "light and airy" goal I elected to do a quick single rise.

Bacon Buns
Makes 10 - 12 buns.

ingredients US volume | Metric volume | US weight | Metric weight
milk 1 c | 236 ml | 8 oz | 225 g
water 1/2 c | 118 ml | 4 oz | 112.5 g
bacon fat 1/4 c | 56 ml | 2 oz | 56 g
whole-wheat flour 1 c | 236 ml | 5 1/8 oz | 146 g
all-purpose flour 3 1/2 c | 825 ml | 18 oz | 510 g
instant yeast 1 1/2 tsp | 7.5 ml | — | —
sugar 2 tbsp | 30 ml | 1 1/4 oz | 32 g
salt 1/2 tsp | 2.5 ml | — | —
egg 1 large

Heat the milk, bacon fat, and water in a small saucepan until about 110F.

Mix together 2 cups flour, yeast, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment. Mix in milk mixture, followed by the egg.

Add remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time — switching to the dough hook after adding a cup and a half of flour. Knead for 8 minutes then turn out on a floured board and knead 2 or 3 minutes longer if required. Shape dough into a roll and allow to rest for about 10 minutes.

Slideshow: Shaping Buns

Divide dough into 10 equal pieces. Form each piece into a round shape and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Click on the slideshow to the left to see the details of shaping the buns.

Spritz buns with a light coating of oil and cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until slightly more than doubled in bulk (it took an hour and a half for this batch).

While the buns are rising, heat the oven to 400F and position a rack in the middle of the oven.

Bake for 8 minutes, then rotate baking sheet 180 degrees. Bake another 2 to 4 minutes until golden brown.

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Blogger Anh said...

I have been reading the series of bread for a while... All have been so good, but these buns are no exception...

6/13/2007 7:52 PM  
Blogger kitchenmage said...

OMG! Bacon Buns? Bacon buns!! (Kevin, you make the job of peanut gallery too easy some days.) Why haven't I thought of using bacon grease in my bread before?

Is this another southern thing? I may have some issues with the south at times (There was a muggy, mosquito-bitten summer night in a small Georgia border town...but I digress...) but the food thing could win me over.

You also realize I now need a dictionary for my next post, Mr oppribrium. Geez!

6/13/2007 8:04 PM  
Blogger kitchenmage said...

I had another flash. I make chinese pork buns and if I used piggy fat they would probably taste even better. Hmmm.

6/13/2007 8:06 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...


It's not a Southern thing, completely my own idea.

6/13/2007 8:23 PM  
Blogger Kansas A. Lillooet BC said...

I made these buns today for tonight's supper (big beef hamburgers) and I have to say they are GOOD! I used lard instead of bacon grease (didn't have any) and they came out so light and tasty. I had a hard time keeping my family away from them until dinnertime. I doubled the recipe and used my Bosch mixer and got 21 fairly large buns. I was skeptical over the 8-10 minute cooking time but it was perfect. Thank you Kevin for a great recipe!

6/14/2007 9:29 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Lard's a good second choice. And I have to admit I've eaten three of the batch pictured completely plain -- love that delicate pork, sweet, yeast flavor, genuine texture, but still light as air.

In my current oven they needed 16 minutes to perfection, but that's not bad (and this was the first time I'd put all the buns on a single tray -- which I liked.

6/14/2007 9:57 PM  
Anonymous Elizabeth said...

My brothers and husband adopted "Better with Bacon" as their motto several years ago. Can't wait to make them Bacon Buns!

6/15/2007 4:50 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Everything is better with bacon.

6/15/2007 5:03 PM  
Blogger ejm said...

Bacon fat in the buns!! What a wonderful idea. Does it lend its smokey taste?

-another Elizabeth, who also believes that everything is better with bacon

6/17/2007 8:40 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

The flavor is slightly smoky.

6/17/2007 9:18 AM  
Blogger Rosanne said...

I just found your site and I made your bacon buns because as you say everything is better with bacon. I have never tried making bread from scratch before and they turned out great. Not quite as dark as yours though. Here's a my blog where I posted about them.

6/17/2007 9:54 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

I looked and really enjoyed the slideshow. Thanks for the feedback.

6/18/2007 6:42 AM  
Blogger Rosanne said...

Thanks again for the inspiration! I will definitely be making more bread!

6/18/2007 7:36 AM  
Blogger Rosemary said...

Just found your blog
Love it
Now have to catch up on the recipes

6/18/2007 3:57 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

We're glad you found us. Welcome!

6/18/2007 4:39 PM  
Blogger lucette said...

I just got back from a vacation and am raring to cook--I'll have to think of something to have on these buns for dinner tomorrow--maybe deer burgers. Although I can't help but dream about crispy bacon on a bacon bun.

6/19/2007 8:44 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Deer burgers sound perfect! Yum.

6/19/2007 9:04 PM  
Blogger BC said...

I just made a batch and they are delicious. Great instructions and slide show. I'll post a picture on my blog. They look a little different since I did not have whole wheat flour - a definite thumbs up recipe.

6/24/2007 12:30 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

I'm gald you liked them.

6/24/2007 6:49 PM  
Blogger BC said...

I've made the bacon buns ...again..and they were fantastic! Everyone gobbled up the doubled recipe. But now I need to make my Pasta alla Carbonara to generate more bacon fat! Here's a picture

7/02/2007 8:15 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

You know, it is BLT season.

7/02/2007 8:59 AM  
Anonymous Robinson said...

Actually, saving and cooking with bacon drippings is a very old practice and one that is very much a "southern thing."

7/19/2007 10:50 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Absolutely. My Mama taught me to keep bacon grease.

7/19/2007 11:45 AM  
Anonymous Christine said...

Hi there

Long time since you actually posted this but found the recipe and am interested, though I'll be serving these buns to vegetarians--would butter be an ok substitute?


6/01/2009 12:43 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Yes, but butter is also an animal product. So you should check with the people you're feeding to find out it that's acceptable.

Personally, rather than deprive the meat eaters of an extraordinarily good bun, I'd just buy some commercial buns for the vegetarians. After all, not eating meat is their choice and I assume they're eating one of those fake burgers so it isn't as though flavor is an issue with them. (Does my prejudice show?{g})

6/01/2009 1:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You had me at "bacon fat!"

7/13/2009 3:16 PM  

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