I am a huge sucker for those buttery, old-fashioned pull-apart buns that grandmas used to make, and I can still find in small-town farmers’ markets in the Canadian prairies. (Since I don’t have a grandma to make them for me anymore, I have to buy them from other peoples’ grandmas.) I’ve hunted around for a recipe – I have a few years to perfect them so that one day I can be that bun-baking grandma. But who needs to wait that long?
Old-fashioned Pull-apart Buns
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp. active dry yeast
3 Tbsp. nonfat dry milk
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
melted butter, for brushing on top
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients (except the melted butter) and stir until you have a soft dough. Knead — using your hands, a stand mixer, or a bread machine set on the dough cycle — until you have a soft, smooth dough.
Set the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and let it rise for an hour or so, until it’s doubled in bulk. Gently deflate the dough by knocking it down with your hands, and transfer it to a lightly floured work surface.
Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces, by dividing in half, then in halves again, etc. Round each piece into a smooth ball.
Lightly grease two 8″ or 9″ round cake pans and arrange 8 buns in each pan. Cover the pans and allow the buns to rise another hour, until they’re crowded against one another and quite puffy. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Uncover the buns and bake for 22 to 24 minutes, until golden brown on top and the edges of the center bun spring back lightly when you touch it. Remove the buns from the oven and brush with the melted butter. Serve warm.
Makes about 16 buns.