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Summer time. When the air is warm and suddenly food just tastes better when you eat it outside. What is it about food cooked on a grill? I certainly don’t have the definitive answer! I just know that like millions of others I love to grill my food. I am always seeking new grilling recipes and now that it’s finally the season for it I’m sharing a couple I tried just this last weekend.
One of my favorite summer dishes is a hot dog – yes, a hot dog – but what I do to make it extra special is bake homemade buns. They are not that difficult to make; in fact in one afternoon’s baking I had three different varieties made. I had a veritable bun buffet! If you have not had a homemade bun you won’t believe how much better your frank tastes surrounded by its yeasty goodness. But of course you must have a hot dog worthy of such a bun – I prefer Park’s Finest™ Frankfurters from Ball Park®.
They are all beef without any added nitrates or preservatives. The Signature Seasoned has a perfect combination of spices – not too much heat, and a delightful flavor. Did you know that during grilling season (Memorial Day to Labor Day) Americans eat about 7 billion hot dogs? BILLION! That’s a LOT of hot dogs. According to surveys the favorite condiment is mustard but I’m a ketchup girl.
I found my delicious Park’s Finest™ franks at Safeway in the lunch meat aisle and they were on sale. That made me VERY happy. (I do love a sale.)
Now that I had my hot dogs I could plan my first outdoor meal of the season! First I had to make the buns! I knew I wanted white bread buns and he would want whole wheat. As I was searching through recipes I found one for pretzel buns. We are children of South Philadelphia and we both love soft pretzels so I knew I had to try them! Three recipes would make my bun buffet complete.
Homemade Hot Dog Buns
(via King Arthur Flour)
PRINT THIS RECIPE
2 TBS granulated sugar
2 packets or 2 scant TBS active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105 – 115°F)
2 cups warm milk (105 – 115°F)
2 TBS vegetable oil – I used olive oil
2 tsp salt
6 – 7 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour*
egg wash – I egg beaten with 1 TBS water
*The dough needs to be somewhat sticky for the most tender buns but conditions will vary from summer to winter and from climate in your area so start with 6 cups and then add a 1/4 cup at a time until you have a dough that is just past well, glop.
Mixing: In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar and then the yeast in the warm water. Add the milk, oil, salt and 3 cups of flour to the yeast mixture. Beat vigorously for 2 minutes.
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.
Kneading: 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. Or use the dough hook in your mixer for 8 – 10 minutes. That’s what I did.
Rising: Put the dough into an 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.
1. Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface. Divide into 18 equal pieces. This is done most easily by dividing the dough first into thirds, then those thirds into halves, then the halves into thirds.
2. Shape each piece into a ball. For hamburger buns, flatten the balls into 3 1/2-inch disks. For hot-dog buns, 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.
3. 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.
Second Rising: Cover with a towel and let rise until almost doubled, about 45 minutes.
4. Fifteen minutes before you want to bake your buns, preheat your oven to 400°F. Just before baking, lightly brush the tops of the buns with the egg wash and sprinkle with whatever seeds strike your fancy.
Bake for 20 minutes or until the internal temperature of the bread reaches 190°F. (A dough thermometer takes the guesswork out of this.)
When the buns are done, remove them from the baking sheet to cool on a wire rack. This will prevent the crust from becoming soggy.
I also made these in wheat. I followed the exact same recipe substituting White Whole Wheat flour for the unbleached all purpose flour. These rolls were a little denser but were still light and delicious.
Then it was on to the Pretzel Hot Dog Buns. I enjoyed these the most! They are definitely more dense than the white bread buns and they are slightly sweet. I thought they were the perfect foil for the spices in the Park’s Finest™ Frankfurters from Ball Park®.
I was ready to set my table for our feast. As many of you know I can – a LOT. So I had a pantry full of homemade condiments to complement this outdoor meal. I opened them up and we were ready to go!
Neither the hubby nor I could believe this was our first meal out on the deck! Somehow last summer had gotten away from us. On the table I had the three different buns, my canned ketchup, relish, sauerkraut and pickles. I also had some delicious homemade mustard made by a friend. I rounded out the meal with some quick and easy homemade baked potato chips and we were ready to eat! The weather cooperated and it was a truly perfect evening to enjoy our dinner.
As you can see the hubby enjoyed his meal. He even went back for seconds! I must admit I do love when he enjoys what I cook! What is his favorite hot dog condiment? He goes for the mustard. And relish, sauerkraut and onions. He loves his hot dog loaded!
So are you ready to #StartYourGrill? I do hope the weather has turned to the better in your neck of the woods and you are able to grill your favorite foods. Do try some homemade buns – they are not that hard to make and they freeze beautifully. In fact I popped my extras in the freezer and I will just pull out what I need the next time I’m grilling. They don’t take that long to thaw and if I want I can just put one or two in the oven while something else is baking and they’ll get a lovely crust while thawing. Be sure to stock up on Park’s Finest™ Frankfurters from Ball Park® to put in those homemade buns.