I don’t know about you, but I’ve always viewed hamburger buns as purely functional things. They’re receptacles, carb-wrappers, so you don’t get your hands dirty while eating the truly desirable bits within. Cheese, for instance, and grilled onions, and sauteed mushrooms. Oh right, and the patty too.
Buns are integral to the entire structure of the burger, yet they’ve done little to niggle my desire, warrant my enthusiasm, or raise lustful thoughts (and shouldn’t they? Given their namesake and all). Until now, that is.
These buns—blogged about by Deb and later Sara—are dreamy: as in, they bake like a dream, come together in a cinch, and their ingredients can be found in most anyone’s pantry. They’re also versatile: I chose all-purpose, whole wheat, and rye flour to go in mine, and they came out hearty but light, soft but complex. But most importantly, they raise the hamburger bun to a higher echelon, one that will no longer be left until the end as an afterthought. And is there anything worse than forcing yourself to eat afterthoughts?
You’ll be ready to fire up your grill after making these.
3 Tbsp warm milk
2 tsp active dry yeast
2-1/2 Tbsp sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rye flour
2-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp salt
2-1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
sesame seeds (if desired)
In a glass measuring cup, combine one cup warm water, milk, yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about five minutes. Meanwhile, beat one egg.
In a large bowl, whisk the flours with the salt. Add the butter by rubbing it into the flour between your fingers, making crumbs. Stir in the yeast mixture and beaten egg until a dough forms. Scrape onto a clean, well-floured counter and knead (by scooping it, slapping it onto the counter, and turning) until smooth and elastic (8 to 10 minutes). It should be sticky, so try not to knead in too much flour.
Shape the dough into a ball and return it to the bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled (1 to 2 hours).
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide the dough into 8 equal balls. Gently roll each ball and arrange them 2 to 3 inches apart. Cover the baking sheet loosely and let the dough rise until doubled (1 to 2 hours).
Set a shallow pan with water in it on your oven floor or lower rack. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Beat the other egg with 1 Tbsp of water and brush the egg wash onto the buns. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top, if using. Put the baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes (turning halfway through), until the buns are golden-brown. Transfer to a rack and cool.
Note: I kept them in the fridge for about a week after I baked them and they still tasted good. Just heat them up on the grill or toast them right before eating.