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Hamburger Buns

This is also from Marion Cunningham's "The Supper Book." You can easily make these in a food processor fitted with a plastic dough blade. This recipe produces sturdy, not-too-soft buns which freeze well if you can't use them right away.

1 1/2 cups warm water
2/3 cup instant nonfat dry milk (do not substitute regular milk, or the buns won't rise)
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 packages dry yeast
1 egg
About 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided

Put the water, dry milk, vegetable shortening, salt and sugar into a mixing bowl and stir to blend. Sprinkle the yeast over the mixture, stir to blend, then let stand to dissolve for a couple of minutes.

Add the egg and 2 cups only of the flour, and beat vigorously until thoroughly blended and smooth. Add enough of the remaining flour to make a manageable, not-too-sticky dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute or two. Let rest for 10 minutes.

Add enough additional flour so that the dough is not sticky, and resume kneading until smooth and elastic (it's true what they say -- at this stage, the bread should feel like a baby's bottom). Place the dough in a large, lightly greased bowl, cover with a damp tea towel, and let rise until it is doubled in bulk (roughly 1 to 2 hours).

Grease some baking sheets. Punch the dough down and divide in half, then cut each half into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece between your palms into a smooth ball and place about 3 inches apart on the baking sheets. Pressing down with the palm of your hand, flatten each ball into a circle about 3 inches in diameter. Cover lightly with a damp tea towel, and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and set the oven rack at the lower middle and bottom levels. Bake the buns for 20 to 25 minutes, switching the baking sheets between the racks midway through. They should be lightly browned when done. Remove from baking sheets and allow to cool completely on racks.

Makes 16 3 1/2-inch hamburger buns.

Sunday, June 11, 2000

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