Recipe: Smoke Sheaths
A Wordloaf-Haterade collaboration
This formula is a variation on my shokupain de mie, scaled to make 12 mini hot dog buns in an 8x8-inch square cake pan, which I concocted for my friend Liz Cook, who plans to utilize it for an upcoming post on her excellent, chaotic Substack Haterade. Here is how she describes the project in question:
Nathan's annual hot dog eating contest has never held much appeal for me. Don't get me wrong: I, too, wish to eat 60 hot dogs, but I'd prefer to take them leisurely, over the course of an afternoon. More importantly, I'd prefer to take mine with toppings. In an ideal world, I could sample every possible hot dog configuration in this famous infographic in one sitting. (Never mind that I have lived in Kansas City for more than a decade and never once seen the purported "Kansas City" dog.) The obvious problem with this plan—besides the health and environmental concerns—is cargo room.
Enter: the tiny dog. Prototyping the dogs seemed easy enough. Slider-sized versions already exist in the form of cocktail weenies (or, depending on your region, li'l smokies). What I needed was a bun—a smoke sheath—to match.
I was more than happy to supply Liz with just this sort of bun, and I cannot wait to see the post she has in mind (I’ll be sure to let you know when it goes live).
The shaping method is identical to that used to make larger snails for shokupan, but on a much smaller scale:
makes twelve 40g mini New England-style hot dog buns
25g bread or mochi (glutinous rice) flour
93g (3/8 cup) milk, boiling (or 84g boiling water and 9g nonfat milk powder, added to dry ingredients)
43g (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces, cold
80g (1/3 cup) milk or plant milk, cold from the fridge
4g (1 teaspoon) instant yeast
233g (1 2/3 cups) bread flour
4g (3/4 teaspoon fine) salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
YUDANE: Place the starch and sugar in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Whisking constantly, pour milk into bowl. If mixture does not thicken immediately, cover loosely and microwave in 30 second intervals, whisking after each one, until thickened and glossy. Add the butter and whisk until incorporated. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a food processor, cover loosely, and allow to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
DOUGH: Add the remaining milk and yeast to the tangzhong and pulse until uniform. Add the flour and process until the dough just comes together and no dry flour remains, 5 to 10 pulses. Cover loosely and let sit for 30 minutes.
Add the salt and process until smooth dough forms, about 1 minute.
Transfer the dough to a medium bowl, cover loosely, and let sit at 75˚F (24°C) until the dough is puffy and about 1 ½ times in volume, 60 to 120 minutes, folding the dough with lightly-moistened hands at 45 and 90 minutes.
Cover the dough tightly and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 24. (If chilling for more than 2 hours, remove the dough from the fridge an hour or so before dividing and shaping to let it warm slightly.)
BUNS: Grease an 8- by 8-inch cake pan and set aside. Transfer the dough to a lightly-floured surface and divide crosswise into 4 pieces. Cut each piece into 3 equal pieces of 40g each, and shape each into a tight, smooth ball. Cover loosely and let sit for 20 minutes.
Coat the work surface lightly with a circle of oil about 7 inches in diameter. Working with one ball of dough at a time, press and pat the dough into an even, 5-inch disk. Fold the disk into thirds to form a strip about 1 inch wide, with the short end facing you. Working at the end farthest from you, stretch the strip gently and roll it into a tight bundle, pressing to adhere the dough to itself along the way. Pinch the seams firmily to seal the bundle and then transfer to the prepared pan, seam down. Repeat with the remaining balls of dough, spacing the buns evenly apart.
Cover the buns loosely and allow to proof until they are about doubled in size and almost completely touching one another, 60 to 90 minutes.
Set an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325˚F (162˚C).
Transfer pan to the oven and bake until the tops of the buns are deep golden brown golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the pan after 15 minutes.
FINISH: Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Remove the buns from the pan and return to the rack. Brush the top and sides of the buns with the melted butter. Allow to cool for as long as you can stand before serving.