Mom's Famous Whole Wheat Piggy Buns
Sorry I’ve been absent from the blogging universe this week. My mother and two of my sisters came down to visit. It’s not that I wasn’t thinking of you, it’s just that we were busy hitting every antique shop in a 50 mile radius, stuffing ourselves at various local restaurants, and baking out the wazoo. Which brings me, in a round about way, to the first recipe from our fabulous week I want to share with you. Remember those photos I posted from our annual Hoegarden Weekend in March? One photo featured the fabulously cute piggy buns our mother made for pulled pork sandwiches. They were truly adorable until the barbecue sauce started pouring from their eyes. Then it got a little Zombieland on us. Then we laughed hysterically and ate them anyway. With gusto. This week, mom allowed me to photograph a tutorial so you can make these precious piggies in your own home. Thanks for sharing, Mom. Now, let’s make piggies!
Here’s what you’ll need:
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 packages of rapid rise instant yeast (or 1/2 teaspoon)
1 Tablespoon of gluten powder
1/4 cup of malted milk powder
1 cup of whole wheat flour
4 to 5 cups of bread flour, divided
1/4 cup of butter (1/2 a stick), softened
1 egg, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups warm tap water
Start by combining the sugar, salt, yeast, gluten, malted milk powder, whole wheat flour and 3 cups of bread flour in a large mixing bowl. I used my big KitchenAid mixer, since it’s got a big deep bowl and a bread hook. (I prefer to make the mixer do all the work. I’m lazy like that.) Using the mixer paddle, mix the dry ingredients on low speed just until combined. Add the butter, egg and water; beat on low speed until combined. Stop the mixer, scrape the sides of the bowl, and continue beating on medium speed for 5 minutes. It will be sticky.
After 5 minutes, stop the mixer and remove the paddle attachment. Replace it with the dough hook, turn mixer to low speed, and gradually add additional bread flour until the dough forms into a soft ball. Allow the mixer and dough hook to knead the dough at low speed for an additional 8-10 minutes.
Lightly flour your work surface. Scrape the dough out onto the floured surface, and gently knead the dough into a smooth, gorgeous dough ball.
Spray a large mixing bowl with cooking spray (or butter/oil it lightly) and place your dough ball in the center. Lightly spray or oil the surface of your dough ball. Cover with plastic wrap and a clean, dry towel and set aside to let it rise until doubled in size (approximately one hour).
Once your dough ball has doubled, remove the plastic wrap and using your fingertips, gently punch down the dough.
Dump it onto a lightly floured work surface and divide the dough into 24 pieces.
Tip: we used a bench scraper to divide it in half, then each half into half, etc. (like those old Faberge shampoo commercials, if you’re old enough to remember them – you’ll tell 2 friends, and they’ll tell 2 friends…).
Once you have 24 equal pieces, form each piece into a round ball.
Using a lightly floured rolling pin, flatten each ball into about a 1/4″ thick circle.
Place the circles onto baking sheets, about 1/2″ to 1″ apart. I used large insulated cookie sheets with non-stick silicone mats. I love those silicone mats. Best thing since slice bread, I think.
Now here’s the fun part: using a biscuit cutter approximately 1 1/2″ to 2″ in diameter and a fat wooden skewer, a chopstick, or a round wooden spoon handle, start to create your piggy faces. Feel free to unleash your inner arteest.
Step One: form the nose by pressing the cutter just below the imaginary center line in a full circle halfway into the dough (don’t cut all the way through!).
Step Two: turning the cutter at a 45 degree angle, cut a half circle creating a piggy smile. Pigs are so much cuter when they’re friendly, don’t you think?
Step Three: holding the cutter at a 45 degree angle, cut in each ear.
Step Four: using a fat skewer, chop stick, or the round handle of a wooden spoon, gently press in two eyes and two holes to form the snout.
If you’re wondering if you could make these 3-D, the answer is YES! Big Sis made one just to see how it would turn out. It takes a little more work to shape the dough, and you have to wet it a little to make it stick, but you can make a 3-D snout and ears for your piggy. Pretty cute, huh? Pays to be an art major… metaphorically speaking, of course.
Allow your precious piggy buns to rise an additional 15-20 minutes while your oven pre-heats to 375 degrees. You want your piggies to be portly… plump… chubby… uh, big-boned… healthy? You get the picture.
Bake one tray at a time for approximately 15-20 minutes or until your piggy buns start to turn a light, beautiful brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Did I mention these smell heavenly when they’re baking?
Once they are completely cooled, you can store them in freezer bags or containers in your refrigerator or freezer. Of course, there’s no hard and fast rule on how long they have to cool before you eat one. I can neither confirm nor deny that one of these bad boys died violently right after coming out of the oven.
But he was delicious.
These little piggy buns are cute and versatile. They make fabulous French toast, and are yummy toasted on a griddle and slathered with butter and honey or jam for breakfast. They’d make cute ham sandwiches this Easter. They make excellent pulled pork sandwich buns, as I’ve said before. And tonight, the Complete Package and I are making Squealer Burgers with them for dinner. Ever had a squealer? It’s easy. You just grind bacon into your hamburger meat, then shape and cook them like any other burger (although I don’t recommend medium rare here). Mmmm….juicy, smoky, moist. And perfect on a piggy bun.
However you choose to consume them, these little piggies are sure to be a hit. Thanks for sharing your recipe, Mom. You’re a baking rock star. Stay tuned, kids…later this week I’ll be sharing The Complete Package’s Steak Sandwiches with soy ginger mayo (to…die…for) and Big Sis’s gorgeous Rainbow Cupcakes. Better break out the yoga pants and Diet Coke right now because you’re going to want to make all of these. Fo’ shizzle.