I have spent so many posts waxing poetic about how much I love Smitten Kitchen that one might think I rarely frequent other blogs. However, my favorite food blog, next to SK, is Simple Bites. The author, a Canadian urban homesteader, focuses on homemade, “real” foods, and her website contains a rich archive of recipes for things one normally buys at the store–Ranch dressing, hot dog buns, etc.–but free from the usual preservatives and other nasty things. She also has some really good advice; my favorite series is her Spices 101, which emphasizes the importance of choosing good spices and using them well. She is currently working on a cookbook, which is already on my wish list.
I spent last week up at camp with the whole family, and for one of the nights we had burgers and portabella mushrooms. My parents have stopped eating fully-white bread, even switching their tried-and-true pizza dough recipe to a 50/50 mix of white and wheat. This was mostly inspired by the fact that you can now get Maine grown and ground wheat. Let me say that again: We have local flour. Perhaps it’s funny that I find this so amazing, but flour is one of those grocery items that, at least in Maine, you expect to come from far away. The Somerset Grist Mill excites me, because it seems like a big step towards a more local and sustainable future.
Anyhow, my parents wondered aloud if it was possible to make your own whole wheat burger buns, and I immediately remembered the recipe I had pinned from Simple Bites just days before. I love trying new bread recipes (I also tried a Naan recipe last week — I will share it later). Something about the process and the smell of the yeast makes me feel as content as a horse in a clover field (and leads to me being as stuffed).
Homemade Hamburger Buns
Adapted slightly from this recipe. I highly recommend visiting the site to learn about working with whole wheat flour.
Makes 8 buns. Takes 2.5 hours.
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp warm water
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk + 1 tablespoon lemon juice left for a few minutes to curdle)
1 egg, beaten
1 cup whole wheat flour
1.5 cups bread flour, plus more for shaping
1 tsp sea salt
Large mixing bowl
9 x 13 baking dish
Small bowl or liquid measuring cup
Measuring cups and spoons
Directions are for a KitchenAid-less household. If you have a stand mixer and dough hook, this may work better in that.
1. In a liquid measuring cup or bowl, combine yeast, maple syrup, and water. Let sit until foamy (around 5 minutes depending on how hot it is).
2. While the yeast is proofing, mix the flours and salt together in a large bowl and create a divot in the center. Put the egg and buttermilk in the center of the divot.
3. When the yeast is foamed, mix it together with a fork and pour it in with the other liquids. Use the fork to mix the ingredients until just incorporated. Then, go take a 10 minute walk to let the whole wheat flour do its thing.
4. Now, here’s where a stand mixer comes in handy. You need to knead the dough for 5 minutes, but you can’t add any more flour because the dough must remain sticky in order to be deliciously fluffy later. Here’s what I do: Coat your hands in olive oil and knead the dough in the bowl. You may need to re-coat your hands a few times. Once the dough is elastic and still sticky, cover the bowl with a tea towel and let rise for 1 hour.
5. When the dough has risen, dust it with flour and dump it on a floured counter. Roll it into a log and separate it into eight equally-sized pieces. With floured hands, roll each piece into a ball and place them in two rows of four in a greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Cover with a tea towel and let rise for 45 minutes.
6. At around the 30 minute mark, preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The rolls will be touching when they finish rising — don’t worry, this is what makes them look so much like hamburger buns! Pop them in the oven and bake them for about 20 minutes, or until they are golden brown all over.
7. Remove them from the oven and brush them with butter. I take a stick in its wrapper and rub one end on the tops, but you can also use a pastry brush and melted butter. Then, sprinkle the tops with sesame seeds.
8. To remove them from the pan, I run a knife in the seams and lift them out individually. Use a sharp knife to cut them in half, as they are soft and fluffy. These freeze well, so if you live in a two-person household like mine, you can make a batch and save some for later.
I am so excited to add this homemade recipe to my repertoire. These buns are much better than the flaccid, cardboard-y ones you get in the store, but they are fluffy and soft like you would want a hamburger bun to be. Enjoy!