Hamburger Buns

Currently, it is May. Spring is doing its thing and whatever, and people begin to remember that they own a barbecue. I merrily barbecue all year long, because I’m a strong, independent, manly-man, but many lack these quality attributes. And thus, barbecues around the world are left to rust and rot by their lonesome selves, covered in a dirty blanket, cold & alone for months on end.

Until now.

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I like to make burgers on the barby for several reasons, but the best reason is because it gives me an opportunity to make bread for dinner. I’ve tried many times to convince my girlfriend that having a sandwich for supper is a cool thing to do, but she won’t have it. Says it’s lunch food, that she’s too good for a dinner time sammich.

But, dish up a nice hamburger on a home-ma20170501_212921de bun with freshly fried french fries and, suddenly, it’s okay to have what is essentially a sandwich for dinner? Absolute madness. I’d fire her from her job as girlfriend if she wasn’t also in charge of all of the back-end work for the social media stuff we do. Maybe I’ll go on strike.

Anyway.

It’s not too hard to make tasty home-made hamburger buns. You can find countless recipes online that have tips, tricks, unique recipes, commentary, whatever, but hamburger buns really only have about three qualities about them that set them apart from other buns: they are usually pretty high in sugar, they are usually a somewhat dense finished product, and they are flatter than a regular round roll.

That’s it.

If you make a standard white bread with more sugar, more fat, not as much water, and just give them a generous squishing, you’ll end up with hamburger buns. The density afforded by the reduction in water helps the burger bun hold up when it’s stuffed full of meat and things. Super fluffy fancy French bread makes for a greasy, floppy burger experience. You want that dense, sweet deliciousness in order to get the burger off the plate and into your face.

Not too tough.

Things you will need:

 

  • Bread flour, milk (or water and milk powder), canola oil, eggs, white sugar, salt, instant yeast, and some sesame seeds if you so desire.
  • A cookie sheet.
  • A digital scale.
  • A medium to large sized mixing bowl.
  • A pastry brush.
  • Spray oil.
  • Plastic wrap.
  • Parchment paper.

Ingredients:

  • Bread Flour: 451 grams
  • Milk: 217 grams (Or, 217 grams of water and 22 grams of milk powder)
  • Canola Oil: 90 grams
  • Eggs: 67 grams
  • White Sugar: 90 grams
  • Salt: 9 grams
  • Instant Yeast: 12 grams

This recipe will yield 12 buns, each weighing 80 grams. You can make bigger buns if you like, or smaller buns for sliders or what-have-you. You’ll end up with about 960 grams of dough. What you do with it is your own decision. You could even make one extremely large bun for an extremely large hamburger if you’re adventuresome or very lonely. One time, I made a single hamburger bun from 4800 grams of dough to be used as a prop for a giant’s hamburger bun for a high school rendition of “The BFG” by Roald Dahl. It was very big. Like, big enough to make a hamburger out of a large sized dog. These buns, on the other hand, are sized more for making a hamburger out of a medium sized rat. Or, perhaps, a very small puppy, or a six-week-old kitten.

Upon further reflection, I’ve decided that approximating hamburger sizes out of live pets isn’t the best way to market my hamburger buns. Thank God I don’t own a business and am just in charge of writing a somewhat nonsensical blog about bread. Nobody reads the intermediary commentary on things like this anyway. Just glaze over that last paragraph and check out the following picture of neato dough:

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Isn’t that cool!?

Moving on.

Method:

Begin by combining all the ingredients, except for the canola oil, into a medium sized mixing bowl. Get in there with a spatula and mix it until you can’t. Then, dump it onto a clean and sanitized work surface and get to kneading. It won’t look good at first, as you may assume, but through the magic of kneading it will become smooth and shiny.

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Knead it with gusto for about 10 to 15 minutes. It won’t be perfectly smooth, as we have yet to add the oil, but it should be decent. A few tears here and there is acceptable; after all, you’ll be going in for round 2.

 

Once you’re satisfied, put the dough back in the mixing bowl and dump the oil on top. Yes, you will be combining the oil into the dough by hand, and yes, this is gross. I’ve come to enjoy this step: squishing an ungodly amount of fat into a ball of dough makes me feel like an evil genius who’s diabolical plan is just stuffing as many calories as possible into a batch of bread. It never fails to amaze me just how much fat, whether it’s canola oil, butter, or bacon grease, dough can absorb. It’s disgusting and delicious.

vegan burger

The best way to combine the oil is just to get your hands in there and double fist it until it’s mostly combined. Squish it around between your fingers and guffaw like a weirdo as you do it. I find that it helps.

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Once it’s started to absorb most of the oil, dump the contents of the bowl back onto your work surface and keep at it. There’s no reason why there should be any oil left either on the work surface or in the bowl. The dough is thirsty for the oil. It could drink a lot more than the amount you’re throwing at it.

bun

At this point, the dough should be real smooth and soft. Mixing in the oil after the rest of the ingredients will ensure that your dough has a beautiful consistency and will rise nicely, even though there’s a comical amount of sugar and fat in your dough. Spray it with oil, cover it with saran wrap, and let it rest until doubled in size. Depending on the ambient heat of your kitchen, this may take up to two hours.

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I let my dough sit for a total of 140 minutes, as it was a bit chilly in my kitchen. The next step is to divide the dough up into 80 gram pieces and shape into round rolls.

Once you’ve got your rolling done, spray them with oil, cover them with plastic wrap, and let them sit for about half an hour. This give the gluten in the dough plenty of time to relax. The next step requires us to re-shape the rounded rolls into a flat disk. Doing this right after rolling them up would not work, as the gluten is still too taught from being roughly manhandled. Once the time is up, begin the squishing process.

20170430_223436It’s not too difficult to get them to be the right shape. You can use the palm of your hand and downward pressure to squish them down, or a heavy pot to really get them even. I usually just use a rolling pin and a generous amount of spray oil. Whatever floats your boat, man. Once your buns are nice and flat, tray them up on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper so that they are not touching. Ideally, each bun would be spaced out far enough so that they would not touch one another during the baking process. If you picture a perfect bun from a burger joint, it probably doesn’t have the white, fluffy, baked-together sides that dinner buns are so rightfully famous for. We want a big ol’ disk shape that’s perfect for handling a round burger patty.

 

Once trayed up, spray your buns with spray oil, cover with saran wrap, turn your oven on to 450 degrees and let them proof until generously swelled. They shouldn’t fully double in size, as their squished down shape makes it harder for the buns to visibly swell up. This should take anywhere from one to two hours.

Now that your buns are proofed, you can take some time to add toppings & brushings to your buns if you desire. I usually just toss on some sesame seeds. Many people seem to enjoy brushing the buns with an egg wash or melted butter before they toss on their seeds or spices. That’s cool too.

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Toss them in your pre-heated oven and turn the heat down to 400. The buns shouldn’t take more than 12 to 15 minutes to bake. They should be a dark brown by the time they are done. The extra sugar in the dough accelerates the browning process, so if they look too dark, you are probably just wrong.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’ll eye up my buns, just like my girlfriend did, and loudly exclaim, “Hey, those buns don’t look big. They look kind of flat! And disk-shaped! Those buns are wrong!”

Well, guess what: you’re wrong, and so is my girlfriend. But, and this is important, don’t tell her I said that

The buns you get from burger joints don’t take up a great deal of actual space. Look up some pictures of hamburgers, or go get a fresh one. Figure out what percentage of the hamburger the bun takes up. If your hamburger is 50% bun and 50% filling, your burger probably sucks. Don’t get me wrong, these buns are mighty tasty, but the bread to filling ratio for a hamburger is different then that of a sandwich filled with peanut butter & jam or sliced turkey and lettuce.

These buns may look “wrong” un-filled, but stuff some burger junk up in them and suddenly, maybe, you’ll realize that they aren’t so wrong after all.

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If you still think I’m wrong, and that hamburgers should be colossal towers of bread ascending to the heavens, then by all means, just make bigger buns. Maybe you’re the kind of sick person who would want to make a burger bun big enough to fit an entire pug in it, you monster. Whatever. I’ll be over here, smugly enjoying my buns sized to contain a large hamster.

— The Breadest

EXPRECIPE:

INGREDIENTS:

  • Bread Flour: 451 grams
  • Milk: 217 grams (Or, 217 grams of water and 22 grams of milk powder)
  • Canola Oil: 90 grams
  • Eggs: 67 grams
  • White Sugar: 90 grams
  • Salt: 9 grams
  • Instant Yeast: 12 grams

METHOD:

Scale it.

Mix it.

Knead it.

Oil it.

Squish it.

Knead it.

Divide it.

Rest it.

Squish it.

Proof it.

Bake it.

Burger it.

EAT IT.

 

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