The problem with trying to make bread quickly is that you sacrifice flavor. A long, slow rise does magical things to dough, resulting in a bread that can be the star of a meal.
Then there are times when you just need some bread. Buns to hold your barbecue pork sandwich. Dinner rolls to sop up some spectacular gravy. In those cases, the bread is destined to be the supporting actor, no matter what. So it doesn't matter that it's not an artisan-inspired loaf with a fancy foreign name.
Bread snob that I am, there are times when all I need is something simple. Something that can be done quickly so I can move onto more important things. Like the afternoon nap, or thinking about planning on doing some laundry.
But even when I'm in a hurry, I'd prefer that the resulting bread isn't completely bland. Sometimes that means I'm a little more generous with flavor enhancers. Like butter. Just a little extra. Y'all.
As far as the sugar, I used natural cane sugar, which has a slight molasses flavor. White sugar would be fine but for a little boost of flavor, honey or light brown sugar might be a better bet.
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 tablespoon cane sugar
- 2 1/2 cups (11 1/4 ounces) bread flour (divided)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Put the water, yeast, sugar, and 2 cups of the bread flour into the bowl of your stand mixer. Stir to combine. I will be loose and gooey. Put the remaining flour on top. Add the salt. Cover with plastic wrap (yes, you're just leaving that flour on top for now) and set aside for 20 minutes.
Remove the plastic wrap and knead the dough with the stand mixer fitted with the dough hook until the dough is smooth, shiny, and elastic. It will be a soft dough. Add the butter and continue kneading until the butter is completely incorporated. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside for 20 minutes.
Flour your work surface and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Turn out the dough and knead briefly. It should be soft and feel bouncy. Divide the dough into 12 pieces and shape into balls. Place the balls on the prepared baking sheet.
Note: if you want sandwich/burger buns instead of round rolls, flatten the balls to about 1/2 high. I made 6 of the flatter buns and 6 round buns. Cover the buns with plastic wrap and set aside until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
Remove the plastic wrap and bake at 350 degrees until nicely browned, about 25 minutes. Remove the buns from the baking sheet and let cool on a rack.