Brave Bun Debacle

2016 Thanksgiving was a tad out of the ordinary for our family for several very good reasons. 1. Our married daughter and her husband were coming home from Oklahoma for the first time in FOUR YEARS! If that ain’t a grand reason to mix things up, I don’t know what is? 2. Our niece is staying a little more than an hour away from our house and isn’t able to come home to be with family. Obviously it was necessary to squeeze in a visit on Turkey Day. And 3. The grand bun baking adventure really turned into an undertaking this year!

In years gone by, my motherly duty is to wake up semi-early and start the bun baking process so thousands of people can be blessed by yeasty white rolls of goodness on the national day of thankfulness. Perfection! This year, as previously mentioned, our morning was consumed by a ½ day trip. So buns moved to Thanksgiving Day Eve. Unfortunately, that Wednesday our kids flew in and the day turned into a driving exploit of sorts. Unfortunately, I found myself in the grocery store at 9:30 p.m. trying to locate the blasted little fast rising yeast packages. Can you already feel the tension rising? Get it?

thanksgiving-2016-041

Frustrated and exhausted, I announced to my husband and all the other late night shoppers in the baking aisle, “That’s it. I’m not baking buns. I’m too worn out. Let’s buy buns.” Dutifully, my sweet husband followed me over to the bakery section and we stood speechless looking at the pathetic selection of sub-par store baked buns and rolls. They were puny. They were wrinkly. They were squished. They were covered in flour. They tasted dry…. I could sense it. With the savory memory of my yummy buns on the tip of my tongue, I announced, “That’s it. I’m baking buns. These are disgusting! Let’s buy yeast.” Rick mumbled, “Well, I wasn’t going to say it!”

At the late hour, I did request help from my beloved husband, who has never in his life participated in bun making. Willingly he agreed to come to my aid, not knowing what he was getting himself into!

If you know nothing about baking yeast buns, can I just tell you that it is a time consuming, yet wonderfully delicious process. It goes something like this: gather ingredients. Mix dry ingredients. Mix wet ingredients with very warm, but not exactly hot, water, so as to activate the yeast, but not burn its little eyes out. Combine ingredients and stir goop until a soft ball forms. This sounds so easy, but it is deceptive. Then let rise 15 minutes. Punch down. Let rise 15 minutes. Punch down. Let rise for 20 minutes. Shape into buns. Let rise 30-60 minutes. Bake 15 minutes.

Our freshly-turned-18-year-old son also joined in the process. If you could have heard them…. offering ME suggestions and baking tips. Oh my stars. One of them specializes in burnt grilled cheese sandwiches and the other one can only make waffles and mac-n-cheese. Not exactly chefs-in-the-making.

“It’s too sticky. It needs more flour.” Um, no. Keep stirring.

“This is done.” Um, no. Scrape the bowl and keep stirring.

“This is impossible to pick up and flip.” Um, no. I’ve done it for 20 years.

“I can punch down without flour on my fist.” Um…. go ahead and try, Mr. Martha Stewart.

“I can just roll them in a ball.” Um, no. Watch and learn the technique from the bun forming master.

“Just put a pan on each shelf of the oven at the same time.” Um, no. The bottom ones will burn.

“Are they done yet?” Um, no. Please stand by.

It was 1:30 a.m. when the last of the 120 not-really-cooled-off buns went into storage bags.  We fell blissfully into our beds with visions of floured buns dancing in our heads.

Thanksgiving 2016 was saved! Thank you, Rick and Keeve, my knights in floury armor.

Please see BUN RECIPE if you feel the need to have your own joy-filled bun baking extravaganza.

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