Hamburger Buns

I am definitely a “meat and potatoes” kind of girl. Given the choice of chicken, beef or fish, I’ll choose beef every day of the week and twice on Sundays. As far as chicken and fish go, if you batter and fry them, I’ll enjoy them. Otherwise, I’m totally “meh” about both of them. Oh, but beef. Steak, cheeseburgers, tacos, stew… so much goodness no matter how you prepare it, and when you throw a baked potato, French fries or home fries into the mix? I can’t resist. I realize it’s not very girly of me, but then again, I’m not terribly girly most of the time (example: I currently have an ugly skinned knee from a street-hockey-on-rollerblades mishap last week). One of my favorite meals is a juicy bacon cheeseburger with all of the trimmings. The best thing about eating a burger at a really great restaurant is usually the bun. They’re a little over-sized, sturdy enough to handle the burger, and typically buttered and toasted. For a long, long time, I’ve been wanting to make hamburger buns at home, and I’m happy to finally able to cross them off my list. I thought that summer would be the perfect time to tackle them since the grill is usually in full swing, and we eat a lot of hamburgers at home. These hamburger buns could not have turned out more perfectly, and I’m excited to keep them stocked for summer grilling!

These hamburger buns are light yet sturdy, very tender and moist. The dough is enriched with milk and butter, which gives the buns all of their amazing flavor. I love that these can be made in an afternoon and with very little hands-on time. Between the mixing, shaping and baking, you’re only looking at maybe one hour total, if that. The rest of the time is inactive, letting the dough rise and do its thing, while you do your thing. Like laundry. Or browsing Pinterest. Or watching reruns of your favorite TV show.

You’ll see in the directions to press down lightly on the top of the buns before their second rise to give them their final shape. If you don’t do this, you’ll end up with really round buns, which will look more like dinner rolls. How much you press down is really up to you and how flat or round you prefer your hamburger buns. I pressed down lightly twice, and you can see the general shape that my buns took. For me, they were perfect; I like my buns with a little height and substance, but wouldn’t want them any larger. Hopefully, you can use that as a starting point for getting yours to the perfect height and width for your preferences.

Once you have the buns finished, it’s party time! Time to build your favorite burger. Mine has cheese melted onto the burger while it’s still on the grill, lots of bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado, mayonnaise and ketchup. With a side of chips and a pickle, of course. Maybe you like blue cheese and bacon? Or a classic with American cheese, lettuce, tomato and pickles? Perhaps a BBQ-style burger? Whatever your favorite burger is, one thing is for certain – this will definitely become your favorite hamburger bun.

I’m already excited for my next burger on one!

One year ago: Sweet and Salty Brownies

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Hamburger Buns

Ingredients:

4¼ cups bread flour

1½ teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 teaspoons instant yeast

1 egg, slightly beaten, at room temperature

¼ cup butter, at room temperature

1½ cups buttermilk or whole milk, at room temperature


1 egg, whisked with 1 teaspoon water until frothy, for egg wash (optional)

Sesame or poppy seeds for garnish (optional)


Directions:

1. Mix together the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a large mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer). Pour in the egg, butter and milk, and mix on low speed until all the flour is absorbed and the dough forms a ball. If the dough seems very stiff and dry, trickle in more milk until the dough is soft and supple.


2. Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mix on medium speed with the dough hook), adding more flour, if necessary, to create a dough that is soft, supple and tacky, but not sticky. Continue kneading (or mixing) for 6 to 8 minutes. (In the electric mixer, the dough should clear the sides of the bowl, but stick every so slightly to the bottom.) Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.


3. Ferment at room temperature for 1½ to 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.


4. Remove the fermented dough from the bowl and divide it into twelve 3-oune pieces. Shape the pieces into tight rounds. Mist the dough lightly with spray oil and cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Allow to rest for about 20 minutes.


5. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper. Gently press down on the tops of the rolls with your fingers to flatten slightly. Transfer the buns to the sheet pans.


6. Mist the tops of the dough with spray oil and loosely cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Proof the dough at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes, or until the buns have nearly doubled in size.


7. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Brush the buns with the egg wash and garnish with poppy or sesame seeds, if desired.


8. Bake the buns for approximately 15 minutes, or until they are golden brown and register just about 180 degrees F in the center. The buns should cool for at least 15 minutes on a rack before serving. Store leftovers in an airtight zip-top bag. If you want to freeze them, I would wrap individually in plastic wrap and then store in a zip-top bag. Thaw at room temperature.


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(Recipe adapted from The Bread Baker's Apprentice)


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