3/4 to 1 cup lukewarm water*
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 large egg
3 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon instant yeast
*For best results (a smooth, slightly soft dough), use the smaller amount of water in summer (or in a humid environment), the greater amount in winter (or in a dry climate); and something in between the rest of the time.
3 tablespoons melted butter OR
1 egg, lightly beaten plus 1 tablespoon milk
sesame seeds, dried onion flakes, oatmeal, etc. (optional)
In the mixing bowl of your stand mixer, combine water, yeast and sugar. After 15 minutes, it should become foamy. At this point, fit the mixer with the dough hook and add the remainder of the sugar, salt, egg, melted butter and flour. Mix until you have a soft, smooth dough. Kneal for a couple of minutes to make elastic.
Place the dough in a large mixing bowl, lightly oiled, in a warm place, cover with a clean dish towel and let it rise for 1 to 2 hours, or until it’s nearly doubled in bulk.
Gently deflate the dough, and divide it into 8 pieces. Shape each piece into a round ball; flatten to about 3″ across. Place the buns on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet or in a lightly greased hamburger pan, cover, and let rise for about another hour, until they are noticeably puffy.
Preheat oven to 375F.
Brush the buns with the melted butter or egg wash and sprinkle with toppings, if using. Bake the buns for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden. Remove them from the oven, let cool in/on pan for 10 minutes before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely.