There are some grocery items that are so standard, and ubiquitous, they are not something that one would consider making at home. Unless, you are a little bit strange, like me. I would like to make many of those standard items. In fact, many go with tonight’s dinner: ketchup, bread and butter pickles, potato chips, and burger buns. Of them, I’ve only made potato chips – and only a couple of times. I’m not that into making deep fried food at home (hot oil phobia from bad burns as a child), with the exception of jelly donuts at Chanukah.
With some extra time on my hands this afternoon, I tackled burger buns. Our friends that joined us for dinner tonight gave me a bread baking book many years ago, so that is where I turned to for the recipe. Bernard Clayton’s “New Complete Book of Breads” has a plethora of recipes from easy to complex, yeasted to quick, traditional to esoteric. “The” Hamburger Bun recipe was easy, yeasted and traditional. I made it in the food processor for speed and so that I could minimize the amount of added flour (for lightness). I also used instant (or Rapid Rise) yeast, because I bought a big package of it a while ago (to make Speedy No-Knead Bread).
This was one of the easiest breads that I’ve ever made. The buns were really nice looking, with a soft, airy interior. Flavor and texture were how they shined above regular store bought buns: yeasty, toasty, chewy, soft but sturdy crust. Far superior to their store bought bretheren, or should I say second cousins twice removed. There is little relationship between the two. The homemade burger buns absolutely held up to the juicy burgers, where a packaged bun would have gotten soaked and soggy. I didn’t grill my bun, but I bet it would have been even better that way. Was it worth the little bit of effort that it took? All 6 hands at the table went up (ever the conscientious students) when I asked this question signifying “yay”. Nobody could talk because they were chewing.
On another note, we learned a few new things from our friends tonight: a new iPhone app, called Shake & Spell, which is just like Boggle, and is even more addictive than Sudoku [just one more, o.k., just one more, just one more…], California ranks dead last in reading skills of elementary students in the U.S., and Martha Stewart has a really delicious vinaigrette recipe (which I need to get from G&SA).
Here is the burger bun recipe. I’m freezing the hot dog buns because we didn’t have any tonight. Actually, the buns never got frozen because L & J wanted to eat them, toasted, for breakfast for the couple of days following this post!
The Hamburger Bun
Adapted from Bernard Clayton’s “New Complete Book of Breads”
Makes 12 hamburger (or hot dog) buns
5 cups all purpose flour (or bread flour) – approximately
1 1/2 Tbsp. instant (or rapid rise) yeast
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
2 cups hot tap water (110-120 degrees F)
1/4 cup milk
poppy and/or sesame seeds (optional)
In a food processor, with dough blade (the plastic blade), combine 2 cups of the flour, the yeast, the salt and the sugar. Pulse once to combine. Add the butter and pulse a few times to combine. Add the water and pulse to combine into a loose batter. Add 2 of the remaining cups of flour and turn the food processor on until a soft dough forms. Add another 1/2 cup of flour, and turn the processor on again. The dough should clean the sides of the work bowl. If not, add 1/2 of the remaining flour. Turn the processor on and check dough again. If it is cleaning the sides of the bowl, and it is not too soft, keep the processor going for approximately 1 minute to complete the kneading cycle. If the dough is still too soft, add flour, 1/4 cup at a time until the dough is the right consistency (soft and pliable, but not too sticky), then process for the final minute.
Place dough in a large greased bowl (large enough so the dough can at least double in bulk). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm, draft free spot for about 1/2 hour.
When the dough has doubled in bulk, punch it down and turn it out onto a floured surface. Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a 4 inch disk. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper (12 X 18 inch works well). Place each disk onto the parchment covered baking sheet. [To make hot-dog buns, shape each piece into a 6 inch long cylinder, place on the prepared sheet and pat to 1 1/2 inches wide.] cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap. Let the prepared buns rest for approximately 20-30 minutes, or until they are puffed and soft.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
When the dough has finished resting, lightly brush each bun with milk. Sprinkle with poppy/sesame seeds, if desired. Place the buns in the 400 degree oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the tops of the buns are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Cool on a wire rack and slice right before serving.