Part II: Burger Buns

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Welcome back and thanks for stopping by!  So, if you read the last post you saw that it was a two part series (can you call that a series?) on the burgers I recently made.  Today's post is on the buns.  I like my buns toasty, how about you? (snickering) 

I know, once again I have managed to make something that most people roll their eyes at and ask why I'd bother to make it if I can buy perfectly good ones in a store, but homemade hamburger buns are so good compared to the storebought counterparts, and they're healthier too- no preservatives as opposed to loaded down with preservatives. 

I have made burger buns before, but the recipe I used yielded a slightly firmer bun that had a good taste but was just not that softness you expect from a burger bun.  This time I pulled out my latest bread book purchase, Artisan Breads Everyday by Peter Reinhart.  I used the Soft Sandwich Bread and Rolls recipe and made rolls as opposed to loaf breads.  I am so glad we had a lot of bread left over so that I could freeze it for later use because these were AMAZING/  They were light and delicious- think Fuddrucker's bun meets steakhouse yeast roll. 

What's different about this book and the recipies contained therein are that you start the dough at least one day before you plan to bake.  This breaks up the rising time, thereby reducing the amount of time in one day that you will spend baking.  It also allows the dough's first rise to be a long, slow one, which allows for greater development of flavor. 

So, you start the way most bread recipes begin, which is to measure or weigh all ingredients, activate the yeast in warm liquid, and to mix them in a mixer according to directions.  Then of course you switch to the dough hook or knead by hand. 

After that, instead of letting the dough rise for an hour or so at room temperature, you stick the dough in the fridge for its long, slow rise.  The next day, or when you get around to baking, you take the dough out and divide it up.  In my case, because I made burger buns, I weighed each piece of dough so that each bun would be around 3 oz. raw dough each.  Then I shaped them into discs. 

After that comes the second rise and then baking them in a preheated oven.  After removing them from the oven, you have to wait for them to cool down, which is one of the most agonizing parts of the whole thing because they just smell so good.  I couldn't quite wait, so one roll/bun met an early demise.  It was so good!

Have you ever made bread before?  How did it turn out?  If you try this one, let me know!

Hamburger Buns
from Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Everyday

1 Tb (.33 oz) instant yeast
1 3/4 c plus 2 Tb (15 oz) lukewarm milk of any kind
6 1/4 cups (28 oz) unbleached bread flour
2 tsp. (.5 oz) salt or 1 Tb. kosher salt
5 1/2 Tb (2.75 oz) sugar, or 1/4 cup honey or agave syrup
6 Tb (3 oz) vegetable oil or melted unsalted butter
1 egg

Whisk the yeast in the lukewarm milk until dissolved.  Let stand 1-5 min. 

Combine the flour, salt, sugar, oil, and egg in a mixing bowl and then pour in the milk mixture.  If using a mixer, use the paddle attachment and mix on the lowest speed for 2 minutes.  If mixing by hand, use a large spoon and stir for about 2 mintues.  The dough should be coarse and slightly sticky. 

Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium-low speed for 4-5 minutes, or knewd by hand on a lightly floured work surface for 4-5 minutes, until the dough is soft, supple, and tacky but not sticky. 

Whichever kneading method you use, knewd the dough by hand for 1 minute and then form into a ball. 
Place the dough into a clean, lightly oiled bowl, and then cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to four days.  If you plan to bake the dough in different batches over different days, portion the dough and place it into two or more oiled bowls at this stage.

On baking day, remove the dough from the fridge about 2.5 hours before you plan to bake and divide it in half; each piece should weigh about 25 oz.  If you are baking loaves, this is the optimal size for 4 1/2 x 8" pans.  For HB buns, shape into balls about the size of the palm of your hand (to be more accurate, weigh into 3 oz. balls).  Place on 2 parchment lined baking sheets and cover the pans loosely with plastic wrap or waxed paper.  Let the dough rise at room temperature for about 2 1/2 hours.

About 15 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Farenheit.  If you want, you can cover the buns with egg wash and sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds.  Bake for 12-18 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. 

  • I did not proof the yeast in the milk- oops!  It still turned out well, though. 
  • I used kosher salt and granulated sugar, and I think vegetable oil
  • I didn't do an egg wash or sprinkle seeds over because I forgot.  Still delish! 

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