Just in time for tailgating parties and fall picnics, or just for yummy sloppy joes and pulled pork sandwiches, these delicious hamburger buns hit the mark. Now that I have a little more time on my hands, I also have more time to do lot more bread baking. I love homemade yeast breads.
I found this phenomenal recipe at Brown Eyed Baker, where the author, Michelle, described these buns as “light and sturdy, tender and moist.” Michelle said these buns will stand up the most hardy burgers or cheeseburgers, but the little nooks and crannies inside lend the buns well for saucier fillings, like spoonsful of sloppy joes, and forksful of pulled pork. I’ve made them three times now, and slathered spoonsful of sloppy joes, forksful of pulled pork, and even toasted them for a large breakfast sandwich of fried egg, bacon or sausage with a slice of cheese. One morning my husband toasted one and ate it with his scrambled eggs like he would toast. Shiny and slightly sweet, Richard and I fell in love.
This is a very easy and forgiving dough. Like with most bread recipes, the majority of cooking time is waiting for the dough to rise, so as Michelle suggests, you could do a load of laundry, read your book, or catch up Homeland or The Newsroom. From beginning to end, it took me about 4 hours.
The list of ingredients is simple, basics I almost always have on hand stored in my pantry. I varied Michelle’s recipe ever so slightly. She uses 4 1/2 cups of bread flour. I used 3 1/2 cups of white all purpose flour mixed with one cup of whole wheat flour. Michelle uses 3 Tablespoonsful of granulated white sugar, and I decided to use honey.
- Dry yeast added to 1/4 lukewarm water, 1/2 teaspoonful sugar.
I’m from the old-fashioned school and proof my yeast, before I mix it in with the rest of the ingredients. Just fill a one-cup measure with 1/4 cup of lukewarm water. Add 1/2 teaspoonful granulated sugar. Add the yeast, stir to mix, and let the lovely little beasts do their magic. (Oh my, terrible picture, sorry friends …)
- The Yeast has Risen!
Here’s what the yeast mixture looks like after it begins to live and breathe. Now you know it is safe to use. In about 5-10 minutes, depending on the warmth of your kitchen, the yeast mixture should have risen to 4x the original volume. Most serious bread makers just add the yeast to the dry ingredients. I’ve ruined too many recipes for holiday dinner rolls through the years that I thought I would be less anxious if I just proofed it before mixing in with all the other ingredients.
Many, many bread bakers I’ve met through their food blogs do a very good job of describing the dough and how it is to look and feel throughout the process. And the more you do it, the better you’ll understand how a yeast dough is supposed to feel. This dough will be a little wetter than a normal bread dough, but just wet enough to be tacky on the counter. The dough should be soft. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in bread making, the less flour the better. So, if you think the dough looks too wet, knead in another tablespoonful or two, but I bet that’s all you’ll need. The dough should be soft and manageable, not wet.
Enter my second favorite kitchen magician, a heavy duty Kitchen Aid mixer. Mom and Dad bought it for me 30 years ago – it’s one of my best friends . . .
Once again, these pictures are not the greatest, but the bottom one shows you how this dough should look once all the kneading is done. It will fall away from the dough hook, and begin to puddle in the bottom of the bowl. Just dust your counter with a little flour, scrap the dough off the hook and from around the bowl onto the floured counter, and just knead by hand for a minute or two, until the dough forms a nice little round ball.
Oil a mixing bowl. Put the large dough ball into the bowl, and roll it around to make sure all the sides are covered with oil. Tightly cover with plastic wrap, then cover with a kitchen towel, and place the bowl in a warm, draft-free place until it rises to double in bulk. Normally takes 1 1/2 to 2 hours. I stick my bowl in a cold microwave oven with the door closed, or in the regular oven with the door closed and only the oven light turned on. Either choice creates a great environment for the raising dough.l
Gently punch down the dough. Pour the dough onto a lightly floured counter. Roll the dough into a nice log about 12-14″ long. I have a kitchen scale, so I use it to weigh the buns into 3-ounce balls. That way all the buns will become a uniform size. Leave the 3-ounce balls on the counter. Cover them with a kitchen towel, and allow to rest for another 20 minutes.
Line two baking sheets with parchment or Silpats, or you can just lightly grease the pans. Place six buns evenly spaced on the baking sheet. (I ended up with a few extra buns this time around, so I placed them as best I could – no worries.)
Gently pat the tops of the buns to slightly flatten them. Cover the sheet pans with kitchen towels, and allow to rise for another 60 – 90 minutes, until the buns are double in bulk.
Remove the towels, and ever so gently brush the tops of the buns with egg wash. The egg wash will make your buns nicely browned and shiny, and will act at the glue for the sesame seeds. At this point, you can use whatever seeds you want: sesame, poppy, or a combination of both. You could become adventurous and top them with finely crumbled cooked bacon. Or caramelize some yellow onions and scoop a teaspoonful or so onto the top sprinkled with poppy seeds.
Bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 15 minutes, until the buns are golden brown and shiny. I rotate the trays halfway through the baking. Let the buns cool for 15 minutes before using.
- 3 cups of bread or unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup of whole wheat flour
- 3 Tablespoon honey or granulated sugar
- 1½ teaspoonsful salt
- ¼ cup of lukewarm water, mixed with ½ teaspoonful sugar and 2 teaspoonsful yeast
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- ¼ cup butter, room temperature
- 1/13 cups of buttermilk or whole milk, room temperature
- Sesame seeds, Poppy seeds, or a mixture of both
- In a one-cup measure, stir together the lukewarm water, ½ teaspoon sugar, and 2 teaspoons of dry yeast. This is to proof the yeast.
- In the large mixing bowl of an electric mixer, add the flours and salt. Using the paddle attachment, mix together on low speed until just blended.
- In a small mixing bowl, add the buttermilk, honey or sugar, egg, and butter. Whisk together with a fork, and pour into the flour.
- Mix the wet and dry ingredients together until just blended, and the dough begins to form a ball. If the dough seems a little dry, add a little more milk.
- Switch to the dough hook attachment. Knead the dough for 6-8 minutes, adding additional flour by tablespoons, if needed. The goal here is to make a soft dough that is manageable, but not too wet. As the dough finishes kneading, it should clear the sides of the bowl, but slightly stick to the bottom of the bowl.
- Transfer the dough a lightly floured counter. Gently knead until the dough forms a smooth ball. Place the dough into another mixing bowl coated with vegetable oil or vegetable spray. Roll the ball around, so it is completely oiled. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and a kitchen towel. Place the bowl in a warm, draft-free place to rise until doubled in bulk - 60 to 90 minutes. Hint: I either put the bowl in a cold microwave with the door closed, or into a cold oven with the oven light on and the door closed.
- Lightly sprinkle flour on the counter top. Remove the risen dough from the bowl, and roll into a log. Cut the dough into 3-ounce pieces, and roll to form 12 little balls. Line them up on the counter. Lightly spray with vegetable spray. Cover with a kitchen towel, and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or Silpat. Place six rolls on each baking sheet. Gently flatten the centers of the rolls, so they will bake looking more like buns rather than dinner roll. Cover the buns with kitchen towels, and let rise a second time until doubled in bulk.
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Remove the towels, and lightly brush the tops of the buns with egg wash. Sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds or a combination of both.
- Bake the buns for 15 minutes. I rotate the pans halfway through baking. Remove the pans to cooling racks, and let cool for 15 minutes before using. Buns may be stored in a plastic bag or ziploc bag.