When I first got into serious bread making (before my gluten free days) I treated myself to Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads. It was a happy love affair but we were sadly forced apart before we were ready. It is a treasure box of yeast risen delicious treats and I keep it on my cookbook shelf as a testament to our happy times.
One day while searching for a new recipe to try, I found this little nugget of wisdom-
“The hamburger sandwich should be viewed in its totality. It is the sum of two parts, the meat and the bread. The rest- ketchup, relish, mustard, pickle, onion- is window dressing. It is more than the meat. It is more than the bread. It is togetherness at its finest. It is almost always possible to buy good meat. It is not always possible to buy good buns. But it is possible always to bake them yourself- and of superior quality. So much that it will be a challenge to the butcher and his meat to do equally well.”
Right, so, doesn’t that make you want to show your butcher up with the best damn bun you can make? Me too. This little paragraph changed the way I think about hamburgers. I aim for togetherness, with awesome window dressing.
Bernard’s hamburger bun recipe is superb, there is nothing better than freshly baked bread. Please try it, I promise you will not be sorry.
The Hamburger Bun
(From Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads pg 541)
5 cups of bread or all-purpose flour
2 packages of dry yeast, quick rise
1 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups hot water
½ cup of milk, for brushing the tops
¼ cup poppy or sesame seeds
You will need 2 baking sheets and a stand mixer helps, use the dough hook and the flat beater. You can mix by hand too, it’s a good workout.
In the mixer bowl add 2 cups of flour, the yeast and the salt. Stir to combine with the flat beater. Cut the softened butter into pieces and drop into the bowl with the mixer on low. Add the hot water. When the dough is a smooth batter, add ½ cup of flour at a time. Mix each addition well, until the dough has become a shaggy mass.
Switch to the dough hook. If you are going the by hand route, get ready to turn the dough out and knead, knead, knead.
With the dough hook, knead for about 6 to 8 minutes, add flour if dough is sticking to the bowl. By hand- knead until the dough becomes soft, smooth and elastic, add flour if it gets sticky.
Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm area until it doubles in size. About 30-40 minutes.
Once risen, turn dough out onto a floured surface and divide into 12 pieces. More if you are making kid size buns. Shape into balls and let relax for about 5 minutes under wax paper.
Shape buns by flattening each ball under your hand, until it is about 1” thick and 4” in diameter.
Place the buns on prepared baking sheets. Cover with waxed paper or a tea towel. Let them rise until they are soft and puffy, about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400. Brush buns with milk and sprinkle with seeds of choice.
Bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown and perfect looking. Let cool and eat up. Try to save some for the burgers.
I also hear good things about the Gourmet magazine hamburger bun recipe, but I’ve not tried it.
I used to made hamburger buns because they tasted better than any I could buy, now I make them because there aren’t any gluten free buns on the market. Or at least any that measure up to the burger of my dreams. For gluten free baking advice I turn to Jeanne at Art of Gluten Free Baking, I’ve made her hamburger buns 3 times and each time they are perfect. I make them free form because I don’t have a fancy hamburger bun pan. Yet. I sprinkle them with some sesame seeds too, so they look like authentic hamburger buns. That’s my gluten free burger with a homemade bun, ready for tasting. It was good times.
For more info about Bernard Clayton and his genius with flour and yeast visit Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads.