It is the trending topic these days. We seem to speak of nothing else. Summertime is drawing to a close. It is hard to get used to the idea considering the high temperatures we are still enduring in some latitudes. Thus, that recreational and festive mood seems reluctant to vanish completely. So many things that were left out that we would’ve liked to do during this break from daily routine… Now it’s time to sum up, to rescue those special moments; getting together with friends, making meals, going on trips, having celebrations… Summertime, among other things, is a golden time for barbecues. Burger patties are usually the indisputable star ingredient at any BBQ worthy of the name. And yet, what about those burger buns? They are frequently pushed into the background, though in my opinion, they’re almost as relevant as burgers themselves and should live up to the occasion if we want to enjoy a burger experience to the fullest. Sometimes these buns are so flimsy that they aren’t capable of rising to the challenge, so they crumble and fall apart easily. Other times, on the contrary, they are so tough that put up quite a resistance and end up squashing all of the burger’s content. In any case, an inadequate bun can ruin even the most perfect burger. But the truth of it is that it’s not an easy task to find the winning formula.
And even so, I firmly believe that after tasting many and very varied versions of burger buns, either store-bought or homemade, throughout the last… let’s say many years, I’ve finally found the right balance. These burger buns are both tender and super tasty. And above all, they maintain their properties even after coping with the gravy, juices, sauces or whatever your imagination may have you put on your burger.
I always seek to enjoy a good burger like never before. So whenever we travel to the States, one of the indisputable items on our to-do list is to take a tour of the most acclaimed (and sometimes not so) establishments in the sector to taste the best burgers in town according to critics and the public. But the truth is that for some time now, I’m finding it more and more difficult to swallow one of those so-called “burgers” which are sold all over the world at any of the extremely popular fast-food chains. I don’t mean that here I do not succumb to the siren song from time to time if required… But I can safely say that it is not an option anymore whenever the “H” hour (‘H’ for HUNGER!) catches us out or we just don’t feel like cooking. I know, I know, we don’t always have the time nor the energy to prepare ourselves certain things that can be so easily bought. But the outcome is worth the effort.
And what about you, what type of homemade food can you not live without?
- 120 ml (½ cup) lukewarm water
- 120 ml (½ cup) lukewarm whole milk
- 20 g fresh yeast
- 150 g (?1¼ cup) bread flour
- 350 g (?2¾ cups) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 75 g (? cup) unsalted butter, cut into small dices
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 egg (L), lightly beaten
- Sesame seeds (optional)
- Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water and milk (be careful! just lukewarm, not scorching - 35ºC / 95°F approx.). Stir until combined and let it sit for a few minutes until it reaches room temperature.
- Meanwhile, in the bowl of our stand mixer fitted with a dough hook (or a large bowl), combine flours and salt, and whisk at low speed to aerate and combine.
- Next add butter (cut into small dices), honey and egg and mix until flour is incorporated. Scrape down side of bowl as necessary.
- Add water, milk, yeast mixture and mix at low speed or by hand against the work surface for 8 minutes approx. Dough may be sticky at first but it will gradually become smooth and elastic, and leave the sides of the bowl / counter completely clean. Use a little more flour if needed but try to avoid adding too much flour or you will get really dense buns in the end.
- In the event of using a stand mixer, transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead for 2 more minutes using the heel of your hand and form a ball.
- Return ball of dough to the mixing bowl, cover with a clean cotton tea towel and let the dough rise for 1 - 1½ hours or until it has doubled in size in a draft-free warm place.
- Meanwhile, cover baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Dust work surface with a little flour, transfer dough and push down with your knuckles a few times to release all the gases and air.
- Divide the dough in 8 equal portions (about 110 g each). Although is not mandatory, it may be really helpful to make use of a kitchen scale here. Don’t use your hands to divide the dough. Use a sharp knife or a dough scraper.
- Shape each piece into a smooth round ball and place them on the baking sheet, about 10 cm / 4" apart.
- Cover with a cotton tea towel and let rise for another 40 minutes until doubled in size (same directions as point 6).
- A few minutes before our buns have risen completely, preheat oven (electric) to 200ºC / 400º F.
- Once our buns are ready, brush them gently with some water using a pastry brush and sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.
- Bake for 5 minutes and reduce oven temperature (electric) to 190ºC / 375º F. Bake for another 12-15 minutes until golden brown.
- Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack immediately. Let cool completely before slicing and serving.
These buns are best if consumed the same day or two, but will keep in a airtight container covered in a cotton cloth at room temperature for up to a week.
- You can substitute honey for sugar but the former helps keep moisture, so we can enjoy tender buns longer.
- If you feel more like having a scrumptious hot dog session, shape each piece into elongated cylinders instead of round balls and there you are!
- These buns freeze perfectly so you can bake an extra batch and freeze them as a contingency plan. Isn’t that super practical? Remember, they must cool completely before freezing and you should wrap them individually in cling film and then in kitchen foil to protect them from freezer burn.
- In order to thaw our buns properly, remove them from the freezer and leave them still wrapped either in the fridge overnight, or on the counter for about 3 hours, or until they reach room temperature. In any case, to restore that crisp texture we all love, you can wrap it in parchment paper and foil and put in in the oven (electric) to 200ºC / 400º F for 3-4 minutes.