I am often asked for a recipe to make good, crusty panini buns and to be honest, any good bread recipe can be used to make buns or rolls. We like our buns crusty with a soft interior full of holes. One way to create the best texture is to use a biga, or starter made the day before, a long rising time, and also to use a loose, moist dough. I find using a baking stone in my oven helps to give my bread a good crust as well as putting a shallow tray of water in the oven while the bread bakes. Preheat your oven for at least 30 minutes to heat the stone fully if you are using it. If you don’t have a stone, simply place your loaves on baking sheets sprinkled with coarse cornmeal to prevent sticking. These buns freeze well after baking. Simply allow to come to room temperature before using to make your favorite sandwiches.
Deborah Mele 2011
- 1 Recipe Biga Made The Day Before (Below)
- 3 Cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (Plus More For Working & Shaping)
- 1 1/2 Teaspoons Active Dry Yeast
- 2 Teaspoons Salt
- 1 1/2 Cups Warm Water
- 1/4 Teaspoon Active Dry Yeast
- 1 Cup Warm Water (About 110 Degrees F.)
- 1 1/3 Cups Bread Flour
- 2/3 Cup Unbleached All-purpose Flour
- For the biga, sprinkle the yeast over the water in a bowl large enough to fit all of the ingredients, and let sit 5 to 10 minutes.
- Add the flours, and stir to combine. (The dough may seem stiff, but will soften up as it sits.)
- Cover the biga tightly with plastic wrap, and let it sit for 6 hours at room temperature.
- Stir it, and refrigerate it until the next day, or at least 12 hours.
- For the buns, combine the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl.
- Add the water and biga, and stir until the dough is mixed. (It will be quite wet, and rough in texture.)
- Turn the dough out onto a floured counter or breadboard, and using as little flour as possible, knead for 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth. (Don't worry that your dough still seems very loose and moist, as it will firm up as it rises.)
- Place the dough into a large bowl three times the size of the dough that has been lightly oiled first.
- Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let sit in a warm spot for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the dough has doubled, punching down and turning the dough every 30 minutes or so.
- If using baking sheets, sprinkle them lightly with cornmeal.
- Divide the dough in to balls about 3 inches in diameter.
- Work with your hands until they are evenly shaped.
- Lightly roll in extra flour and place on your prepared baking sheet or bread peel.
- Lightly press each ball with the heel of your hand to create a disc shape.
- Cover loosely with towels.
- Preheat the oven at this time to 400 degrees F.
- Fill a shallow casserole dish with water and place in the oven 10 minutes before you place the buns into the oven.
- After 45 minutes, place the baking sheets into the hot oven, or move the buns with the peel onto the hot baking stone.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, rotating the buns once during this time, or until the dough is a light golden brown all over.
- Remove and let cool on a wire rack.