Aunt Frieda's Overnight Buns

A hard-working farm wife, Aunt Frieda would rise early to bake these favorites, which had been rising overnight for 5 to 6 hours. Sleeping in? Bake these buns the night before.

Makes 30 buns

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup warm water (105° to 115°F)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 7 cups all-purpose flour

Directions

In a 1-quart saucepan, combine water and sugar; boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add butter; stir until butter is completely melted. Cool to lukewarm. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the ¼ cup warm water. (As a general rule, water from the faucet should feel very warm, not unpleasantly hot, to the inside of the wrist.) Set aside for 5 minutes. Add yeast mixture to cooled mixture in saucepan. Beat in eggs and salt. In a very large mixing bowl, measure 3½ cups of the flour; pour mixture from saucepan into flour and stir well. Add remaining 3½ cups of flour and stir well. (Dough will be sticky.) Cover bowl and allow dough to rise in a warm place for 2 hours.

Spoon dough onto a floured surface. Knead by folding over dough, pushing down with heels of hands, and giving the dough a quarter turn. Repeat kneading process until the dough is smooth and elastic (5 to 8 minutes). Place dough in a very large greased bowl; turn greased side up. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours. Punch the dough down in the center with a fist; pull the edges of the dough to the center, turn dough over, and place on a lightly floured surface. Cover; let rest for 10 minutes. Spray two 15×10-inch jelly roll pans with nonstick cooking spray. Cut dough into six equal pieces and then cut each piece into five pieces for a total of 30 buns. Shape dough with your hands by taking each piece of dough and folding edges under, smoothing tops. Place in pan, allowing space between dough balls for doubling in size. Cover and let rise 5 or 6 hours.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Place pans on two oven racks, making sure to stagger pans for even heating. Bake 10 minutes. Switch pans to opposite racks and continue baking 2 to 3 minutes until tops are brown and a light tap on top of buns gives a hollow sound. Immediately remove buns from pans and place on wire rack to cool completely.

To store, wrap securely in foil or clear plastic wrap, or place in an airtight plastic bag. Then, store in a cool, dry place. (Do not refrigerate baked yeast breads as refrigerator storage makes bread stale.)