This week, I found myself in the grocery store just a little too close to lunch time. You know how it is when you shop and are a little hungry?! Everything I saw looked way more appealing than usual, particularly anything that was even remotely “ready-to-eat”. As I wandered through the bakery section, I spied the big bin of Pizza Buns and they fit the bill perfectly. I really wanted to take some home, until I saw the price of $1.69 a bun!
Have you ever wondered how to make homemade pizza buns, like the ones they sell at the grocery store? Well here it is, and they are easy and freezable, too!
I’d have to buy 4 of course, since I couldn’t just bring one home for myself. I quickly did the math and even though math has never been my strong suit, I was pretty sure that 4 buns were going to set me back almost $7. Nope. That wasn’t going to happen. It’s dough, pizza sauce and a bit of cheese, for heaven’s sake.
I am not usually one to pinch pennies when it comes to buying food. I’ll happily pay $15 for a scant quart of wild Ontario blueberries when they show up at the markets in late summer. And there was that $23 I spent on a small piece of Délice de Bourgogne cheese at the St. Lawrence Market a while back (but darn, it was good :). About the only thing I refuse to spend my money on is something that I know I can easily make at home myself for a fraction of the cost.
So I came home and made my own. It took me only about 90 minutes, start to finish (most of it passive waiting-for-dough-to-rise time). When I was done, I had 16 buns. I ate one, left a couple out for when the hungry family members arrived home and froze the rest. They freeze beautifully, so they’ll be filling all the random savoury snack needs in this household for a while.
I made smaller and thinner buns than the ones in the grocery store. I’m a thin-crust pizza kind of gal, so since I was in making the sizing decisions now, I went smaller and thinner. You can easily make them thicker and/or bigger if that’s the way you like ’em. You’ll just get fewer buns, of course. If you make thicker buns, be sure to increase the amount of sauce and cheese you put on each bun, to keep the topping to bun ratio in good order.
And speaking of cheese, yes, I used cheddar, because that’s what the pizza buns in the store have on them. It’s good. Of course, you can always use mozzarella (or another cheese), if you like. That’s the great thing about making your own. You get to make all the decisions :)
P.S. Because I was curious, I calculated what it cost me to make these Pizza Buns. I used one jar of Pizza Sauce at $2, 1/3 – 1/2 a block of cheddar that I bought for $5 (so let’s say $2.50) and a I’ll allow $1 for the dough ingredients (all of which I had on hand). That’s $5.50 for 16 buns, or 34 cents per bun. Now granted, mine are smaller than the store-bought, but not by all that much and honestly, they were every bit as tasty.
- For the pizza bun dough:
- 2 1/2 - 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 1/4 tsp. (1 packet) instant (Bread Machine or Rapid Rise) yeast
- 1 cup of quite warm water (120-130° F.)
- 1 Tbsp. vegetable, canola or any other neutral tasting oil
- For the toppings:
- 350 ml. (12 oz. or 1 1/2 cups) of your favourite pizza sauce (make your own or a good store-bought)
- 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- For the dough: In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the kneading hook, mix together 2 1/2 cups of the flour, the sugar, salt and instant yeast. In a measuring cup, combine the warm water with the oil. Add this to the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Knead by hand or with the mixer until the dough comes together in a ball and is smooth. It shouldn't stick to your hands or be dry and crumbly (**add more flour in 1/8 cup increments or more water in Tablespoons, as necessary to achieve this). Grease a bowl and place the dough ball into the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 30 - 45 minutes, depending on how warm your kitchen is.
- Prepare two baking sheets by lining each with a sheet of parchment paper. Set aside.
- Remove the dough to a floured cutting board. Cut the dough evenly in half. Cut each half in half again. Cut each piece in half again, to make a total of 8 pieces. To make thinner buns like I made here, cut each piece in half again to make a total of 16 pieces of dough.
- Rolling: Dust a rolling pin and your rolling surface lightly with flour. Take a piece of dough and roll into a rough circle shape about 1/4-inch thick. Place the dough circle onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with each dough ball, placing each on the prepared sheets (you can place them fairly close together as they don't spread much).
- Topping: With all your rolled dough on the baking sheets, using a teaspoon from your cutlery drawer (not the measuring kind) top each piece with a heaping teaspoon of pizza sauce (about as much as it will hold) and spread it over the top, going as far to the edges as you can without it going over the sides. Top with a generous amount (1/4 cup-ish) of shredded cheddar cheese. Repeat with all the buns.
- Baking: Preheat oven to 375° F. with the rack in the centre of the oven. To avoid the second sheet from over-rising while the first one bakes, I placed one sheet on top of the stove while it was pre-heating and placed the other in a cooler spot in my kitchen. That way the sheet on top of the oven rises a bit quicker and the other a bit slower. Leave your buns to sit for about 20 minutes, or until they look puffy around the edges. Bake for 18-20 minutes (for thin buns - longer if you made fewer, thicker buns). Remove from oven (and pop the second sheet into the oven) and let stand for 1 minute, then remove buns to a cooling rack. (If you're pressed for time, you could probably bake the two sheets at the same time by putting your racks in the top 1/3 and bottom 1/3 and rotating your sheets half way through baking)
- Freezing: These buns freeze well. I froze them on a baking sheet and then transfer to a freezer bag. To enjoy from the freezer, no need to thaw. Just place the frozen buns on a baking sheet and warm in a preheated 400° F. oven for 7 or 8 minutes.