Thursday, April 22, 2010

Becoming domesticated one bun at a time

Before I launch into my saga, let me give a little background information.

My husband and I got to know each other when we both worked for a bakery that was owned by some of his family members. I worked in the store and he did various jobs in production. When we got married, he wasn't quite done with college and I worked full time so he ended up doing most of the cooking by default. Never mind the fact that he is a much better cook and baker than I'll ever be. This is the guy who can sniff a jar of spice and if it smells like whatever he's making, he'll add it. That is a talent I don't have.

As the years have gone by, I've taken over most of the cooking and baking. I manage but adore when he comes into the kitchen to take over. He's so humble, he hates to admit how good he really is. If we have guests over, he'll try to make me take the credit for his good food. No way Jose. The glory is all his! He hates it when I brag about how good his is.

My baking consists of mostly cakes, bars and cookies. I have rarely, except for an occasional batch of caramel rolls, ventured into the world of yeast breads. Hubby would love it if I would. I did give some breadsticks a shot one time and you should have heard him laying on the compliments as thick as shag carpet. I finally had to tell him to clamp it, as he was endangering his chances of ever getting them again. Slightly overboard.

Last night I decided to give Overnight Wheat Buns a try. As I was making them, I completely forgot that I had my very own In House Baker puttering around in the garage, available to help should I need him.

I got to the part of the recipe where it said "add flour to make a soft dough." Oh great. "Soft" as in what? A one month postpartum belly? A wad of Silly Putty? A feather bed? I guessed at exactly how much flour, got it all mixed up and put the bowl of dough to raise in the stove.

About a half hour into the raising process, Hubby walks in and says, "Ah Dearie? The top of the dough is all dried out, you're going to have little hard chunks in your buns." (That doesn't sound very good, does it?)

Seeing my blank look, he explained, "You need to grease and then cover the dough with a cloth towel when it's raising."

Oh. Well. The recipe didn't have that part in it. (Rescue attempt #1)

As I punched down the dough for the first time, it was definitely one month postpartum belly soft in both touch and looks. Hopefully I was on the right track.

Soon it was time to form the buns. The recipe said, "Form into buns, place on greased cookie sheet and leave to raise overnight."

Looking around, I only had three cookie sheets and this recipe made about 6 dozen buns. So, I greased my counter, formed all the buns and started to cover them with a towel (see, I did learn something new). I was mentally patting myself on the back when Hubby walked in again and plopped himself down on a stool.

"Ummmm", Sir Baker says, "how are you going to get the buns onto pans without them collapsing?" He was, once again, rewarded with a blank stare. "After they're proofed (or raised), if you touch them, they'll collapse", he gently explained. (Rescue attempt #2)

Getting up he washed his hands and offered his assistance. Thank you!! If only I had thought to ask him a few hours ago. I pulled out every available baking surface and greased them. He looked in the cupboard, saw the muffin pans still in there and suggested we make some twin buns. Done deal! (Rescue attempt #3)

We spent the next 15 minutes re-rolling the dough into nicely formed buns. He was a pro. When I remarked upon it, he said "What do you think we did with all the leftover bits of dough at the bakery? We formed them by hand." I shrugged and told him I was too concerned with getting the buns bagged and sold that I didn't think about how they got made. He smirked and said, "Yeah right. You were more concerned about me." Good point. Very true. :)

By 9:30 last night, my counter was filled with miles and miles of little brown piles all happily tucked in for the night. (Thankfully none were steaming.)

I've been baking them off this morning. While the flavor is wonderful, they're a little bit flat and small. I'm sure it's because each was formed twice last night.

It really was an easy recipe and the only time consuming part was forming the buns. However, next time I make them (did you catch that? I'm actually going to try again!) I'll be sure not to handle them so much.


Chet and Laura said...

That's a good book. Miles and Miles of Little Brown Piles by Squat & Leavit. (Couldn't resist, I take after my dad.) Chet wouldn't know the first thing about baking. He was wondering what was wrong with the butter one day because it was rock hard. Uh, ever heard of a refrigerator, dear?

able mabel said...

Actually Laura, I was resisting the urge to go in that direction. Trying to keep it semi-wholesome. A few times I had to go back and edit to make the wording a little more "clean".