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In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the warm water, yeast and sugar.
Let sit for 10 minutes or until bubbly -- this is how you know your yeast is working. This step is technically not required when using instant yeast, but I do it always anyways, so that I know my buns will be a success.
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a very large bowl if you are kneading by hand), whisk together the 2 cups warm water, butter, 1/3 cup sugar and salt.
Add the bubbly yeast mixture and stir to combine.
Place the bowl in the stand mixer and put the dough hook on the machine. You can also knead by hand.
Add the flour, one cup at a time, and mix until nearly combined before adding more. You can use all purpose or whole wheat or a combination. Start with 4-5 cups flour, mixing until each is incorporated.
The closer you get to your dough being ready, the less flour you will add at once. We want a smooth, soft dough, never stiff, so we need to watch and stop adding flour at just the right moment.
Add up to 6-7 cups flour total, very gradually at the end, until the dough comes together in a smooth, soft ball and does not stick to the sides of the stand mixer. When you touch it, it should be smooth and slightly tacky but not sticky.
Place dough in a large lightly greased bowl (you can use the same bowl and grease it), and cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel.
Set in a warm spot (I use the oven with the light on -- turn the oven on to preheat for 2-4 minutes before turning off and adding the dough) and let rise until doubled, about 1.5 hours.
Uncover dough, punch down, and roll out 20-24 rounds -- smoothing the top and pinching the seam in the back to smooth (see video for additional details).
Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and let rise (you don't have to cover them) in a warm spot for 30 to 90 minutes (instant yeast will be quicker) until doubled.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until light golden brown.