Mmmm…. Don’t those make you hungry? I’ve been working on increasing the breads we make from scratch and these hamburger buns have quickly become a hit. They’re great not just with burgers, but also with sloppy joes, pulled pork and other sandwiches. As an alternative, you can form them smaller and they become beautiful, pull-apart dinner rolls.
I keep meaning to make a batch and freeze them so I have some on hand, but frankly they just don’t last that long in my kitchen. My hungry teenagers are all over them. And that’s okay by me. It’s always great knowing they’re enjoying real food.
This recipe is adapted from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice and is one of the few bread recipes in that book that doesn’t take 2 days to make. (Yeah, those 2-day versions slow me down — really need to plan better, eh?) But these come together quickly and just need a bit of advanced planning to allow for their rising times. I usually try to make these at lunch or early afternoon to be ready for dinner that evening.
Aside from ensuring you knead the dough well, I believe an important aspect of achieving a tender and well-aerated crumb in the bread is the technique used in rolling the dough into tight balls.
Start by slightly flattening the dough and begin a circular motion with your hand, pressing the dough into the counter. As Reinhart instructs, you should press very hard, “as if trying to push it through the counter.” As you continue the circular motion, your hand should begin to curve around the dough as it forms into a tight ball. This takes a bit of getting used to and a flourless surface will help create more friction, leading to a better end result.
The rolls can be allowed to rise on an oiled pizza stone or your favorite baking sheet. Place them 1-1/2 to 2 inches apart, so they have room to expand but will touch slightly when doubled in size.
While you can skip the step of brushing with egg wash, it does make a difference in imparting that gorgeous golden brown color. We don’t usually top with seeds, but I loved how these came out.
Makes 12 hamburger buns or 18 dinner rolls
- 3 cups unbleached bread flour, divided
- 1 cup unbleached white whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
- 3 Tbsp raw sugar
- 2 tsp ActiveDry yeast
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk, buttermilk or whey (or any combination), at room temperature
- In a large bowl (not the bowl you’ll use to mix the dough), mix together the whole wheat flour, 2 cups of unbleached flour, salt and sugar and yeast. We’ll add in the last cup of unbleached flour later, but I prefer to hold back so I can be sure the dough is not too dry. It’s much easier to add more flour than more liquids once the dough becomes established.
- In your mixing bowl, beat the egg lightly and the butter and milk.
- Add in the flour mixture a 1/2 cup at a time, mixing in the flour with the liquid thoroughly. Continue adding the last cup of flour in small increments, stopping when the dough begins to form a ball, pulling away from the sides of the bowl. This step can be done with a mixer using the paddle attachment, or by hand with a large spoon.
- Transfer the dough to a floured countertop and knead the dough, adding more flour as necessary, until it becomes soft , smooth and tacky. Continue kneading for an additional 6-8 minutes or as long as necessary for the dough to pass the “windowpane” test. (You should be able to pull off a bit of dough and stretch it very thin so you can “see through” the dough if held up to the light. If it breaks right away, keep kneading.)
- Coat a large bowl with olive oil. Roll the dough in the bowl so it is well-coated with the oil. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until doubled in size (timing will depend on the room temperature).
- Remove the dough, degassing it only slightly and divide into portions (12-14 for buns and 18-20 for rolls).
- Roll each portion into a tight ball, as discussed above, and place on an oiled baking stone. For buns, place the balls 1 1/2 inches apart and for rolls bunch them together tightly. Mist the tops with olive oil (Mr. Misto is great for this!) and cover with a damp towel. Allow to rest for 20 minutes.
- For burger buns, press lightly on each roll to create the “bun” shape. You may want to mist the tops with oil again, then cover with the damp towel and allow to proof for 60 to 90 minutes, or until almost doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. If using the egg wash, beat an egg lightly with a few tablespoons of water and brush over the rolls. Sprinkle on the poppy or sesame seeds.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until they become golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before serving.
Shared with: Real Food Wednesday, Whole Foods Wednesday, Fresh Foods Wednesday, Pennywise Platter, Full Plate Thursday, Eat Make Grow, Keep it Real Thursday, Fill Those Jars Friday, Fight Back Friday, Mom’s Test Meal Monday