Subject: 15. How do I make soft buns?
The easiest way to get very soft silky buns is to use lots of pastry flour (half pastry/half all purpose or bread) & plenty of fat in the form of butter. This produces melt in your mouth types of buns. People are generally obsessed with gluten content in wheat - if truth be told you can make bread with pastry flour i.e. a gluten content of 8% or so. Naturally, the character of the bread is different. You generally, want to match the character of the bread with the character of the flour. Generally, people are very obsessed with high gluten flours which do indeed produce lofty loaves but if not worked properly can also produce rubbery loaves. Elizabeth David is one of the few authors on bread, incidentally, who advocates looking for flavour in flours rather than simply high gluten content - a lofty loaf is a good loaf only from certain points of view. Incidentally, buns and the like that I have baked with substantial amounts of pastry flour have had no problem rising to normal respectable levels.
One advantage of high amounts of gluten is the concept of "tolerance". Tolerance means ability to withstand abuse - abuse like overkneading, overfermenting, overanything. High gluten flours have higher tolerance. This means that you have to be slightly more skillful in using low gluten flours. I would recommend using a yeast dough rather than a sourdough as a starting point if you are going to try to make buns with large amounts of pastry flour. The reason is you have to be very careful not to overferment this sort of dough and it probably easiest to make a straight dough. I have used sourdough and got breads as soft as a kiss.
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