ok, so 50 is a lot of buns. But the buns keep in the freezer for months and months without losing any quality, and if you cut the recipe down any more than this there's barely enough stuff in the bowl of the mixer for the dough hook to pick up. So clear out a couple of hours and some pace in the freezer and get to work.
- 1.3 tbsp active dry yeast
- 1.5 cups water at room temperature
- 510 grams bread flower 4.25 cups
- 756 grams sugar 6tbsp
- 30 grams nonfat dry milk powder 3 tbsp
- 18 grams kosher salt 1 tbsp
- .5 tsp baking powder rounded
- .5 tsp baking soda
- 1/3 cup rendered pork fat or vegetable shortening at room temperature
Combine the yeast and water in the bowl of a stand mixer outfitted with the dough hook. Add the flour, sugar, milk powder, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and fat and mix on the lowest speed possible for 8 to 10 minutes. The dough should gather together into a neat, not too tacky ball on the hook. When it does, lightly oil a medium mixing bowl, put the dough in it and cover the bowl with a dry kitchen towel. Put it in a turned off oven with a pilot light or other warmish place and let rise until the dough doubles in bulk, about 1 hour 15 min.
Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a clean work surface. Using a bench scraper or a knife, divide the dough in half, then divide each half into 5 equal pieces. Gently roll the pieces into logs, then cut each log into 5 pieces making 50 pieces total. They should be about the size of a ping-pong ball and weight about 25 grams, or a smidge under an ounce. Roll each piece into a ball. Cover the armada of little dough balls with a draping of plastic wrap and allow them to rest and rise for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut out fifty 4-inch squares of parchment paper. Coat a chopstick with whatever fat you're working with.
Flatten one ball with the palm of your hand, then use a rolling pin to roll it out onto a 4-inch long oval. Lay the greased chopstick across the middle of the oval and fold the oval over onto itself to form the bun shape. Withdraw the chopstick, leaving the bun folded, and put the bun on a square of parchment paper. Stick it back under the pastic wrap (or a dry kitchen towel) and form the rest of the buns. Let the buns rest for 30-45 min; they will rise a little.
Set up a steamer on the stove. Working in batches so you don't crowd the steamer, steam the buns on the parchment squares for 10 minutes. Remove the parchment. you can use the buns immediately (reheat them for a minute or so in the steamer if necessary) or allow to cool completely then seal in plastic freezer bags and freeze for up to a few months. Reheat frozen buns in a stove top steamer for 2 to 3 minutes, until puffy, soft, and warmed all the way through.