Our across-the-street neighbours moved away a few years ago. They were fun to hang out with on our front step, our collective little kids playing on the sidewalk. They were good eaters, and toward the end of one summer shared the recipe for the soft, sweet buns he told us his Grandma used to make. Homemade dinner rolls made with a recipe procured from someone’s grandma are my favourite. For awhile, I made these with my niece across the street, and she’d bring them to school in her lunches.
Homemade buns on the dinner table is about as old-fashioned as it gets, and yet immensely satisfying – this is one of the recipes we included in the new Best of Bridge Sunday Suppers, which hit store shelves a few weeks ago. If you like, you could pay closer attention to how you shape them, forming them into smooth-ish balls, then bake them on a sheet instead of in a tray, spaced apart so that they don’t snuggle up to each other in the pan and instead bake into stand-alone buns with tanned sides, perfect for homemade burgers. (If you do this, brush their tops with a bit of water or milk and sprinkle with some sesame seeds before you bake them. It’s positively glee-inducing to pull a pan of homemade sesame-topped burger buns out of the oven.)
W walked in as I was just typing that last sentence, read the title of this post and loudly asked, “2 hours?? Who has time for that?” (Because the schedule of a 12 (!!) year old is so demanding.) And I explained that 2 hours from start to finish isn’t a lot of time for homemade buns, and it doesn’t mean 2 hours of actual work. You don’t need to time the rises precisely – think of them as ballparks, and if you go out and don’t come home for 2 hours, the dough will be fine. If you’re in a rush and only have half an hour to let them sit, they’ll also be fine.
Jason’s Grandma’s original recipe called for 8 cups of flour and 1/2 cup sugar (or 8 tablespoons) – I reduced it quite a bit, and reduced the quantities in case you don’t want quite so many buns at one time. If you do, the formula is easily doubled.