2 1/4 teaspoons (1/4-ounce package) active dry yeast
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
6 large eggs, at room temperature
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1/4 cup honey or granulated sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, at room temperature
1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, for the pan
1 large egg, at room temperature, lightly beaten
Sesame seeds or other toppings
To make the sponge: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, warm milk, yeast, and sugar and whisk until combined. The mixture should look like pancake batter. Cover and set aside until air bubbles rise to the surface, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
To make the dough: Add the eggs to the sponge in the bowl. Add the flour, honey, and salt. Mix on low speed until combined. Gradually increase the speed to medium-high and mix until the dough begins to release from the sides of the bowl and is smooth and elastic, 10 to 14 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl every few minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough holds together.
With the mixer on medium speed, mix in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, making sure the butter is fully incorporated after each addition before adding more. Increase the speed to medium-high and knead until the dough passes the “windowpane test”: You can stretch a bit between your fingers so that it is thin and elastic enough to let light through before tearing; this should take 8 to 12 minutes.
Remove the bowl from the mixer, cover it with plastic wrap and place it in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
To finish: Generously grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with the butter and set aside. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a floured surface. Cut the dough in half and shape into a log by gently pulling and tugging and slapping it on the counter. Cut into equal amounts, about 2 1/2 inches for each piece, and gently roll each into a ball. Place the balls in the prepared baking dish about 1 inch apart. Repeat until all the dough is rolled and you have 15 buns in the pan. Cover with a kitchen cloth and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. The dough balls should now be touching in the pan (they will rise more during baking).
Preheat the oven to 375℉ and place a rack in the middle of the oven. Brush the buns all over with the beaten egg. Sprinkle with sesame seeds or your favorite topping. Bake on the middle rack of the oven until golden brown on top and no longer doughy inside, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Remove from the oven and let cool on the pan for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature. The buns can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.
Abner Ramirez and Amanda Sudano Ramirez are LA-based singer-songwriters and parents of three who love to collaborate, bond, and have fun together in the kitchen. The duo embraces the joys and challenges of cooking while juggling family life.