This is the basic sweet dough recipe we used in cooking class. With this you can make so many things! Hamburger buns, dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls or sticky buns, monkey bread or braided cheese Danish, snails, sweet petals and the list goes on.
1If you are using a bread machine using the "dough only" cycle, simply put all wet ingredients in first (for most machines, check yours) . So the water or milk, butter, egg, then the dry ingredients and set for 'dough only'. Check after the first 5 minutes to see if it is too wet (add a teaspoon of flour) or too dry (sprinkle with a little water).
2If making the dough by hand or standing mixer, whisk the wet ingredients into a bowl. While you want the chill off the milk, if using, you don't want it too hot or the yeast will get scalded! Add the sugar. Add 1 cup of flour, the potato flakes, the salt and yeast. Whisk until thickened. Add the rest of the flour and use a danish whisk, wooden spoon or dough hook on standing mixer to mix this in. If it is too sticky, add some flour, a tablespoon at a time. If it is too dry (floury, cracked and not tacky) sprinkle some water it and mix in. You want it to be tacky, like a post-it note.
3Knead the dough on a lightly floured counter. Pushing, folding over, pushing. Or use a dough hook in standing mixer and let knead for a few minutes until it pulls away from bowl and feels springy, about 3-5 minutes. You do not need to knead long because you are not making a loaf of bread with this dough. Kneading develops gluten, and with most sweet breads and buns, you do not need much gluten. So you just knead it until it is a bit springy and is coming together into a nice ball.
4If you are using it right away, put the dough into an oiled bowl, oil the top and cover with plastic wrap to let it "proof" or rise until about double in size, 45 min to 1 hour.
Or you can put it into a bag sprayed with oil and big enough to let it grow inside, and store it in the fridge until you want it, perhaps the next morning. I sometimes use used bread bags for this and twist tie the top.
The next morning, or when done proofing, you would press it down, releasing the gasses and redistributing the yeasts. Then shape it into whatever you are making and let it raise again. Then it is ready to bake. If it came out of the fridge, of course it will take a bit longer to rise after shaping. But the warmth from your hands help to warm it up. See specific pastry recipe for details.