Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Goofy Buns

Avast, mateys! The mariners have returned from British Columbia’s wild West Coast, where we bathed in steaming waterfalls and natural hot spring pools that cascaded from the forest above to the ocean below; where we watched the watery plumes of surfacing humpbacks and saw a gray whale the size of a barge; where we heard the sour gurgle of sea lions and the megaphone-barks of the massive bulls; where we sailed past countless sea otters riding the waves on their backs; where we saw seabirds with bellies so full of herring that they could barely crest the waves to flee our approach. On the rare day the ocean was calm, dolphins rose and fell like curved sewing needles, piercing water that had the texture and sheen of silk. 
And on that day, when the sea wasn’t agitated and I could bake without bracing myself against the walls of the ship’s tiny galley, I set about making Goofy Buns, the recipe being one of my shipboard favorites. What I love about this recipe is its ease of preparation and the way it scents the galley (or your at-home kitchen) with the most delicious fragrance of fresh bread.
The men on board gobbled these up: Hot bread is a definite treat when you’ve been at sea for days. As the only woman in our four-person crew, I was delighted to have such an appreciative (and hungry!) audience. I could have served these guys hardtack and they would have been equally grateful. The ultimate survival food, hardtack lasts for years. Goofy Buns last only a few minutes … when you taste them, you’ll know why! If I’d only known the secret of fresh bread when I was single, I would have escaped years of heartache and loneliness! 

My appreciative crew!

Goofy Buns:
1 tbsp. (3 oz. or 8 g package) granular yeast (see Note)
½ c. warm water (see Note
1 tsp. granulated sugar
½ c. butter or margarine
½ c. sugar
1 egg
2 c. cold water
7 - 7-½ c. flour, divided 
1-1/4 tsp. salt (see Note)
½ tsp. baking powder
Stir together yeast, warm water, and 1 tsp. sugar. Let stand 10 min. Using an electric mixer, cream butter or margarine and ½ c. sugar. Add egg and mix well. Stir in cold water, 1 c. flour, salt, and baking powder, mixing well after each addition. Pour in yeast mixture and about 5 c. flour, continuing to beat with electric mixer. Using hands, stir in the last 2-to-2-1/2 c. flour. Dough should absorb all added flour, becoming smooth and elastic and losing its stickiness. Cover loosely and set in a greased bowl in a cool place overnight. The next morning, punch down dough and shape into balls larger than a golf ball and smaller than a tennis ball. Place on greased or parchment-covered baking sheets, cover loosely, and allow to rise 1-½ to 2 hr. in a warm place away from drafts (see Note). Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. Lightly grease tops of rolls. Bake 15 min. Makes about 2 dozen buns.
Note: Use “traditional” yeast in this recipe - not fast-rising yeast.

Note: Water that is too hot will kill yeast. Water at “room temperature” is best, or between 70 and 110 deg. F. (21 to 37 deg. C) on a standard thermometer.

Note: Never omit or adjust the salt a bread recipe calls for. As well as adding flavor, salt controls how much and how well your bread will rise. This is a carefully balanced chemical reaction, depending on the type of flour you use and the type of bread you make.

Note: When I’m cooking on a boat, I sometimes let the buns do their final rising in the galley oven with the pilot light on low. For various reasons, that didn’t work on this trip. Instead, I proofed the buns in our cabin, with the adjacent door to the engine room wide open. At home, I do the final proofing in my oven, with only the interior light turned on, or on top of the fridge. As always, cover them loosely to prevent drafts. I use a sheet of wax paper with a tea towel on top. 

Mix and add flour until dough becomes elastic

Let rise in a cool place overnight; punch down

Shape into small balls ... they'll grow larger!

The crew ate these faster than Ron could photograph them! 

Further Note: Anyone can make these buns! As you can see ...

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