19 January 2011

Hamburger Buns

 Saturday we ventured into the big city and went to Ikea in Emeryville.  Between the drive and the layout of the store that's an all day trip.  We ventured to a shopping area next door, with all the usual mall shops, that's part of the old town that had been redeveloped into stores with living space above.  The restaurants in the shopping area were the usual chains, PF Chang, Wahoo's, and Coldstone.  We decided to give a The Elephant Bar a try.  Their menu was quite varied and the burgers looked so good that I decided that it was time to have burgers at home, even if it was still too damp to grill them.

I decided to make my own buns so that I wouldn't throw away the 6 we don't use!  I made the recipe into 7 smallish buns and 4 hot dog buns.  The buns were a tad small once I got the burgers together, but more than enough bread for me.  Next time I'll make a smaller burger.  I'm hoping they'll freeze well.  Good bye store bought buns!

 Hamburger Buns

1 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 packets or 1 scant tablespoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)  (I warmed water and milk in the microwave and let them cool)
1 cups warm milk (105°F to 115°F)
1 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoons salt
3 to 3 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour*
egg wash: 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
sesame, poppy or caraway seeds or coarse salt (optional)
*We give you this fairly wide variation for a couple of reasons. First, you'll find in the summer that you'll need a bit more flour to absorb a given amount of liquid than you will in the winter. This is because it's humid and flour acts somewhat like a slightly dampened sponge as a result.

Second, this particular dough should be quite slack, i.e., very relaxed in order to make soft and tender buns. So you want to add only enough more flour, past the 3-cup point, to make the dough just kneadable; sprinkling only enough more to keep it from sticking to you or the board.

Mixing: In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar and then the yeast in the warm water. Add the milk, oil, salt and 2 cups of flour to the yeast mixture. Beat vigorously for 2 minutes.

Gradually add flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface.

Knead until you have a smooth, elastic dough. Because this dough is so slack, you may find that a bowl scraper or bench knife can be helpful in scooping up the dough and folding it over on itself.  I didn't have to knead a lot, the mixer did most of it.

Put the dough into an oiled bowl. Turn once to coat the entire ball of dough with oil. Cover with a tightly-woven dampened towel and let rise until doubled, about one hour.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface. Divide into 9 equal pieces. This is done most easily by dividing the dough first into thirds, then those thirds into thirds, then the halves into thirds.

Shape each piece into a ball. For hamburger buns, flatten the balls into 3 1/2-inch disks. For hot-dog buns, roll the balls into cylinders, 4 1/2-inches in length. Flatten the cylinders slightly; dough rises more in the center so this will give a gently rounded top versus a high top.

For soft-sided buns, place them on a well-seasoned baking sheet a half inch apart so they'll grow together when they rise. For crisper buns, place them three inches apart.

Second Rising: Cover with a towel and let rise until almost doubled, about 45 minutes. 

Fifteen minutes before you want to bake your buns, preheat your oven to 400°F. Just before baking, lightly brush the tops of the buns with the egg wash and sprinkle with whatever seeds strike your fancy.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the internal temperature of the bread reaches 190°F. (A dough thermometer takes the guesswork out of this.)

When the buns are done, remove them from the baking sheet to cool on a wire rack. This will prevent the crust from becoming soggy.

Adapted from King Arthur Flour by Carol 

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