Labor Day signals the end of summer, but it gives us the perfect reason to gather with family and friends to enjoy the last long days and to eat quintessential summertime delicacies, like hot dogs. In honor of Labor Day, we have fired the ovens and prepared homemade hot dog buns. These buns are tender, light, and soft with a crisp crust. They bring any frank or sausage to a new level and and will certainly impress your guests (and also your mouth). For good measure, we roasted our beef franks with live fire. Many thanks to King Arthur Flour for the bun recipe.
Fire your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
To mix the dough:
In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar and then the yeast in the warm water. Add the milk, oil, salt and 384 grams of flour to the yeast mixture. Beat vigorously for 2 minutes. It will look weird and soupy, so don't worry. Here is mine:
Gradually add flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface.
Knead until you have a smooth, elastic dough. Because this dough is so slack, you may find that a bowl scraper or bench knife can be helpful in scooping up the dough and folding it over on itself. The dough will go from a squirrelly mess to a respectable ball pretty quickly.
Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl. Turn once to coat the entire ball of dough with oil. Cover with a tightly-woven dampened towel and let rise until doubled, about one hour.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. Divide into 18 equal pieces. Each bun should be about 70 grams, but if you like to live on the edge, you can divide the dough first into thirds, then those thirds into halves, then the halves into thirds.
Shape each piece into a ball, then roll the balls into cylinders, 4 1/2-inches in length. Flatten the cylinders slightly; dough rises more in the center so this will give a gently rounded top versus a high top.
For soft-sided buns, place them on a well-seasoned baking sheet a half inch apart so they'll grow together when they rise. For crisper buns, place them three inches apart. These are mine, all smushed together, to maximize soft/crisp contrast.
For the second rising, cover with a towel and let rise until almost doubled, about 45 minutes. When mine plumped up, they started to look like actual, albeit rustic, hot dog buns.
While your buns are rising and your oven is firing, this is a great time to roast the franks. I am trying to set a good example for the youth, so I put them in an oiled iron skillet. What I really wanted to do is roast them in the flames like you would in a camp fire. I'm not saying you should do that...but you could. If you choose to, safety first! I'm not sure how you would look without eyebrows and arm hair.
Just before baking your buns, lightly brush the tops of the buns with the egg wash (you can also sprinkle with seeds, salt, or any other topping you like).
Bake for 20 minutes or until medium golden.
When the buns are done, remove them from the baking sheet to cool. When your buns are cool enough to handle, split them open, tuck a frank inside, and don't forget the mustard (or whatever it is you like on hot dogs...I don't want to offend the ketchup people)!
Happy Labor Day from The Bread Stone Ovens Company!
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